News 2008


Avoid what will push us back to the edge


Daily Nation

12. March 2008

After the euphoria that greeted the signing of the power-sharing accord by President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga, it was hoped that all the tension, suspicion, brinkmanship, self-serving propaganda and hysteria that had characterised political relations since December 30 last year would be a thing of the past.

But, alas, old habits die hard, and it looks like our politicians have forgotten that trying to upstage one another will never carry this country forward.

This country has undergone a very traumatic experience, the result of a blatantly flawed election process, during which our great nation was literally awash in blood.

It took a Herculean task by men and women of goodwill to help us pick up the pieces again, harass our two leaders into a political accommodation despite unending intrigues by some of their diehard loyalists, and start getting our act together.

It happened when the two principals agreed to share government responsibilities under an arrangement whose details are yet to be thrashed out.

Now there is great danger that the whole arrangement might come unstuck due to what appears like mischief by some players on either side of the political divide, through pronouncements which threaten to scuttle that unity of purpose.

Kenyans cannot, and will not, allow them to do so. There is too much to lose.

On Sunday, the reading public was regaled with a list purporting to represent what share of Government jobs ODM would get in the new dispensation. That list read like fairy-land stuff, and the party was quick to distance itself from the contents.

Then on Tuesday, the Head of Public Service came up with job descriptions for the two principals and the Vice-President which only succeeded in ruffling feathers, for it was not clear on whose mandate Mr Francis Muthaura was purporting to assign duties.

This, too, left Kenyans confused because, as far as they know, the post of prime minister and his two deputies has not even been endorsed by Parliament.

Besides that, a bipartisan Transition Committee which was supposed to negotiate this important issue has, apparently, not started work

Caught in a time-warp

Now, with all those loose ends, and possibly, because of them, Kenyans would be forgiven if they felt as though they are caught in a time-warp Ė going neither backwards nor forward.

Kenyans cheered an experiment in governance which they hoped would get them out of the rut. But already, due to the obvious jostling for top positions, they are beginning to wonder whether they are, again, being taken for a ride.

As a Nation columnist asked the other day, was all this agony suffered for the sake of seeking lucrative jobs for the boys or because our leaders want to seek the best possible ways to heal our country?

We cannot afford to walk the path of confrontation again. We cannot afford an attitude of politics-as-usual.

We have agreed that power and responsibility be shared equitably amongst all the major political players. The spirit of this accommodation is in place, though Parliament has yet to make the law.

In every likelihood, the current debate is being prosecuted by hardliners on both sides whose views are not necessarily those of their principals.

It is a mistake to allow the voices of unreason to drown out those of reason. Nor does it make sense for jobseekers to take charge of the game, decide what jobs to assign themselves and proceed to interview themselves.

Our advice is this: Stop bickering; there are enough jobs to go round. Give Mr Odinga and President Kibaki room to reflect and assign you your jobs. Donít forget there will be no apples if you upset the apple cart.

Negotiations and compromise are what brought us this far from the precipice. Negotiations and compromise are the only way to keep hope alive, so that one day, we can all shout in unison: Never Again!