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Friday, July 20, 2007

Kibnaki's Second Term?

President Kibaki's declaration that he will now seek a second term in office is yet another betrayal of the NARC ideology in which he had assured his NAK partners that he, as DP Chairman, would be strictly a one term president. Michael Kijana Wamalwa must be turning in his grave!

This is not to mean that Kibaki does not have a constitutional right to go for the second term. But we must ask ourselves, what is it that has motivated Kibaki to reiterate his desire for a 2nd term? Does he have any new policies to introduce to the nation? Or does he want to continue the legacy of his first term? Either way, it is still not a foregone conclusion that he will be re-elected, although he does enter the race as a front runner with a clear head start.

But first Kibaki has to contend with identifying a political party and then form a pre-election coalition to carry his candidature. His once moribund DP party - in which he is still the registered National Chairman - has suddenly resurrected and is attracting high profile defectors, although Kibaki himself has expressly rejected the party's presidential nomination ticket. Interestingly, despite of this public rejection, DP appears to be reaping benefits in Mt. Kenya Region at the expense of NARC-K, and not ODM-K as some people would like us to believe. Kibaki has to be careful not to upset his present tribal coalition partners (FORD-P, FORD-K, NPK, SHIRIKISHO). He has to take even more caution not to sideline his close associates who have ganged up in NARC-K. And if his attempts to land one or two of the leading lights in KANU and ODM succeed, Kibaki will require all his political skills to accommodate all the regional kingpins in his government without rocking the boat.

This confirms that Kibaki's cabinet after the elections will be made even larger than it already is, so to make space for his supporters, since there will be numbers required on the floor of the house for parliamentary business to keep the regime going. Uhuru, Ngilu, Kombo, Mwakwere and Nyachae who are tribal party leaders in every sense, have openly declared that they have to be active members of the next government. In other words, if Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga or Kalonzo Musyoka wants votes from their tribes; then they have to be ready to include them and their cronies in government (read cabinet). It is open and shameless blackmail, and it essentially means tribalism and inequality will continue to be entrenched and the scarce state resources will continue be misdirected to maintain a humongous cabinet.
ODM-K remains the most popular party on the ground. It also offers the best chance to block Kibaki's ambitions. But what options do they offer.

Each of the luminaries, going by their visions, have some radical and positive ideas for the country. However, each of them has a history behind them too. They also carry excess baggage from previous regimes. They also have to contend with Moi's persistent interference and the fact that a third force that has been waiting in the wings, will eat into ODM-K support base first, before touching on Kibaki's.

Comparing the alternatives open to Kenyans today, I still think ODM-K has an edge over Kibaki's coalition. ODM-K may just be the party / coalition required to give Kenyans the change they want. It should be recalled that the Kibaki regime was elected on euphoria and resistance to Moi's impositions. After making a mess of the constitutional review process, the Kibaki regime has achieved a little economic recovery which has unfortunately been trashed by inflationary spiral. Primary education is allegedly free, but parents continue to pay approved levies and other hidden costs, while the students themselves, majority of whom are from poor rural families absorb very little education because of hunger and over crowded class rooms.

Official corruption is now worse than during KANUs rule and the government appears to have sanctioned underhand dealings among its officers. It is extremely embarrassing to the country that a good number of Kibaki's allies and sitting cabinet members are now multi-billionaires and have been denied visas to most donor countries. We now hear a favourite line of chest thumping; Kenya can (or will soon) do without donor support. Kibaki himself seems hell bent on undermining multi-party democracy by killing opposition parties and using his official powers to promote tribalism. The press has not had an easy time either, and if Kibaki has his way, the proposed Media Bill will seriously compromise press freedom and curtail freedom of information and expression in Kenya . I don't believe these are what Kenyans want for another five years.

On the other hand, all the ODM-K needs to do is to control their egos, stay united, nominate a strong candidate, maintain grass root campaigns akin to those of pre-referendum, get elected to government and most importantly give Kenyans the changes they require. One on one, I doubt whether the Kibaki team has the capacity to match a united ODM-K. Kibaki must be defeated with a gap of votes that will comfortably absorb any possible double voter registration in his stronghold areas - just as in the referendum, a million votes or more.

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