News 2008


Kenyan brand of democracy a facade

Business Daily

Written by Mwenda wa Micheni

March 04, 2008: I detest the new tyranny in the façade of democracy, especially the Kenyan brand. Though fronted as an inclusive political system where the majority decide, the select few have devised a way of circumventing the majority.

On the public podium, politicians preach it, but in practice they conveniently retreat to “timocracy.” Those better versed with constitutional theory define “timocracy” either as: a practise where only property owners may participate in government; or a government where rulers are selected and perpetuated based on the degree of honour they hold relative to others in their society, peers and the ruling class. This honour obviously depends on where you were born, what you own or what company you keep.

If you have watched the political drama that has been unfolding since Kenya’s independence, then “timocracy” should not be a new concept.

It started when colonialists took leave, but left their cronies in charge of this country. Then entered the Kenyan cronies who perfected the art of “timocracy,” amassing more for themselves as the rest of the country begged more.

Poverty grew. Traditionally, the only way for the poor to see the other side of the divide was through a proper education system. After years of “timocracy,” the elite designed an education system to retain the status.

In the process, democracy become a phrase only to be used at public rallies to appease vulnerable Kenyans, and not practised. Interestingly, the politician has also learnt that the more often it is fed into the minds, the more acceptable it gets.

During last year’s General Election, party manifestos dedicated lots of space to democracy as the concept that will empower the masses by having their own elected into seats of power.

If it is their brand of democracy, nothing could be further from the truth. Picture this: As campaigns for the different political seats entered a climax, the rich bankrolled their own interests; they were not going to bet on people they couldn’t trust not to disconnect sources of their wealth. Accompanying the money was an elaborate propaganda.

The propaganda succeeded after it left poor Kenyans helplessly dizzy. In this dizziness, they danced to the tune of the self-seeking tyrants.

This was opportunity for godfathers to entrench themselves into the system to safeguard their interests. Ideally, democracy leaves the masses to make decisions affecting them, today’s Kenyan political system has no space for ideas from citizens. They still remain cronies who must dance to tunes played elsewhere.