Regular readers of this blog must have found today’s Sunday Nation rather interesting and one would be excused for thinking that we are working together.
Nothing of the sort is happening. In fact many respectable Kenyans including those in the media don’t think much of this popular blog and yet stealing an idea or two is no big deal (Tom Alwaka of Citizen, at least you make an attempt to recycle the headlines although the recent one on Raila was a wee-bit too close to the info we produced here).
Kumekucha is a team effort and our commentators here supply a lot of information and plenty of ideas too. Newcomers should ignore the jeers which I’ve learnt to ignore. For instance as recently as a few months ago when I insisted that retired President Moi was going to be a major factor in the upcoming elections, many of the comments were abusive jeers. Now the mainstream press do not want to discuss anything else, because it is true that you cannot be a dictatorial president for 24 years and have no influence.
Over a year ago I carried this post that I have re-pasted below. I re-read it today and enjoyed it immensely and I trust that you will feel the same as you as you read through it.
I have a hot exclusive I am working on for tomorrow, so kindly bear with me, will you?
THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2006
Why The Next President Of Kenya Needs To Be A Young Person
Management style of Two Most Recent Presidents Of Kenya And Why The Next President Must Be Young, Healthy And An Early Riser
Attention Managers; There's Plenty To Be Learnt From Comparing Moi And Kibaki Management Styles
The management styles of former President Moi and that of President Kibaki as analyzed here are as different as night and day. But what is more important are the lessons they teach which clearly points us to the kind of CEO we need to take over the reins of running Kenya Inc. after the next general elections.
Former President Moi
Former President Moi must thank the Almighty for blessing him with such good health, which allowed him to keep a very punishing schedule, considering his age (84).
The former president would usually be up by 4 am every morning and would start the day just the way he often ended it, with a glass of milk (Moi has always been a teetotaler who doesn't touch alcohol). He would usually start the day by carefully going through the newspapers. The former president is reputed to have been a ferocious and avid reader of newspapers.
Depending on his program for the day, he would usually then start seeing people as early as 6 am. During Moi's administration two sets of diaries were kept. One was with the comptroller and he personally kept the other that was often packed with the many appointments that he gave to many, including ordinary Kenyans as he criss-crossed the country during his long days.
As the city started to wake up he would usually get a security briefing from the intelligence service which allowed him to face the day with the confidence that privileged information always gives to any person. This blogger knows a person that was very close to the former president and it is believed that Moi used the early hours of the day to reflect and make or postpone important decisions. This is usually the best time to make decisions, free of fatigue or the influences or hassles of the day.
By the time early office workers were arriving in their offices AT 8 am, the former president had already been at his workstation for four hours (about a half of a working day for most people).
What would usually follow was a long day of meetings, meeting people, roadside chats and so on. Mercifully the former President would tend to go to bed early. His night cap more often than not would be the legendary glass of warm milk.
The reason as to why such a brilliant man and the most successful finance minister Kenya ever had, has made such a blundering, shaky President, despite under-studying leaders like Jomo Kenyatta is really not a mystery. It rests with the decision making process. This is a very critical aspect of successful management anywhere.
Due to recent health problems that have dogged the President, many of them triggered by a near fatal road accident in the run up to the last general elections in 2002, The President usually starts his day late morning, sometimes as late as 11 am. Another reason for the late start is that unlike his predecessor, the current president does not go to bed early. He tends to enjoy his night cap, which for him, like for most of his age mates is a nice beer at the right temperature. He usually continues working even as he prepares to end his day. There are unconfirmed reports that sometimes the President's working day ends late into the night.
Early in the Kibaki administration The Economist did a story that claimed that there was often heavy alcohol drinking going on at State House around the President in the evenings. The Narc government was at the time still very popular and the story died as quickly and quietly as it had emerged and is now long forgotten.
One of the advantages the current president has is that unlike Moi, he lives in State House. President Moi would usually retire to his Kabarnet Gardens home, off Ngong Road and just adjacent to the sprawling Kibera suburb, mostly in the evenings between 6 pm and 7pm.
President Kibaki's work day is very different because he does not shuttle all over the country meeting and addressing the people like Moi did. Neither does he spend several days every month receiving delegations from different parts of the country coming in to pledge their loyalty like Moi did. He is mainly an office person apart from the few public functions he attends from time to time. This caused a former Sunday Nation columnist Mutahi Ngunyi (now a close political advisor to the president) to pose an interesting question. What does the president spend most of his day doing considering his preferred laid back administrative approach that relies heavily on delegating a lot of power to his cabinet, he asked? Ngunyi even insinuated in his then well read column that the President actually sits around relaxing most of the time, literally doing nothing more than enjoying his trappings of power.
Even if this were true, recent political developments and the rapidly approaching general elections would not allow for such a lifestyle. In fact the first lady herself, Lucy Kibaki has said in public more than once that there are some politicians who have literally been causing the President sleepless nights. Meaning that the poor man does not get much sleep any more. This rings very true to anybody who has been closely following recent political developments in the country.
It would seem that many of the President's now painful decisions (that is another management truism, the more you delay decisions the more painful they become when you finally have to make them) are made during the agonizing of the night. Or maybe in the middle of the day, in the heat of things. My Dad whose thinking is very similar to that of the President (and he's also from the same generation) makes most of his decisions over his evening Tusker as he reminisces, sometimes with his close buddies. Whatever the case, we can be sure that crucial presidential decisions these days are hardly made at 4 am in the morning.
A Fascinating Comparison
Comparing the two most recent Kenyan presidents is a fascinating study in management styles and techniques and how they are influenced by personalities and character traits rather than educational backgrounds.
Former President Moi never saw the inside of a high school. This is in sharp contrast to Kibaki who was the first African to score a maximum six points (six top distinctions in six subjects) in his O-levels as a student at Mangu High School. He was also one of the first Africans to attend the London School of Economics where he excelled. By the time Kanu was getting him into politics, Tom Mboya had to personally fetch him all the way from the world famous Makerere University in Uganda where he was a lecturer in Economics.
Yet most people grudgingly agree that Moi was clearly the better manager. Moi's street-smart instincts seem to have given him an uncanny ability to make the right decisions at the exact right moment. One example stands out. After fighting multi-partyism vigorously for years, Moi sensed danger and suddenly changed tact announcing his decision in a memorable Kanu meeting in 1991. Hilariously, party pointman Shariff Nassir, stood up twice in the space of a few minutes to strongly support two very divergent views. First he stood up to suggest that multi-partyism would be implemented over his dead body. Then when Moi announced that he had changed his mind, Nassir was the first on his feet again to say that he too had changed his mind and that multipartyism must be re-introduced at all costs. Kanu delegates rubber stamped Moi's decision to scrap the notorious section 2 (a) of the constitution and bring back multi-partyism to Kenya.
Other one-party despots of the time who did not read the winds of change to make the right decision quickly found themselves out of power and dead shortly after. President Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo is one such example. As is Kamuzu Banda, the former strongman of Malawi.
President Kibaki on the other hand unlike Moi, hates to make decisions and more so, the direct confrontation it brings about. So quite often he waits until it is too late to make any decision. By keeping the LDP rebels in government for too long, he created a serious crisis for himself when he finally sacked the entire cabinet (another move that avoided direct confrontation. It would have been more prudent to sack only the culprits). Keeping them gave them time to gain more public sympathy and support for their cause, which in my opinion was simply not practical. The simple question here is, can a memorandum of understanding over-rule a constitution, which the president has taken an oath to protect? In the end because a decision was delayed and no action was taken in good time, it didn't matter who was right and who was wrong and the president emerged as the culprit in the eyes of the people. He has the results of the referendum on the new constitution as proof of this fact.
Ages before President Kibaki ascended to power, political columnist Kwendo Opanga described him as the politician who "never saw any fence he did not want to sit on". Former DP deputy leader Agnes Ndetei said on her return to the country this year, that the main reason she fell out with her then party boss, Mwai Kibaki was because the man would not make decisions ven when they urgently needed to be made. Incidentally it was this very trait that landed Kibaki the presidency because when you avoid confrontation and making decisions, you end up making less enemies. Out of all the front runners for the presidency in 2002, Kibaki is the man who had made the least enemies despite his long political career and was therefore the most acceptable candidate amongst his peers, long before Raila uttered the now famous words, "Kibaki tosha."
The Next President
There are many reasons why it is important that a younger person of the so-called dot com generation should now rule Kenya. To start with none of the immediate former presidents have strong IT or Internet skills. Which puts them and the country at great disadvantage in our very wired world.
One of the reasons behind Bill Clinton's successful presidency was the efficient use of information technology, email in particular was very heavily relied on. There is little doubt that despite the Monica Lewisky sex-scandal, no other president in American history has gotten so much done in such a short space of time.
The time has come in Kenya where we need to move away from that situation where every communication requires a secretary to sit down and type out a letter or even email. We need to graduate to quick emails personally from the head of state and even his key people, which will suffice and get things done a lot quicker. It is a sad fact that there are too many old people in the current administration whose generation are the sort that get intimidated at the mere site of a computer. This is one of the reasons why this administration has been far from efficient and have often been very sloppy and slow in getting anything done.
Kenya has been put many years behind by recent decisions and policies of the previous president and the current one as well. What this means is that the new president will hardly have the time to sleep. He will need to be both an early riser Like Moi and he will also need to work late into the night like President Kibaki, for him to have a fighting chance of making a reasonable impact.
He will also need to find a middle ground of sorts between shuttling around to every corner of the republic like Moi and efficient management both in the office and on the move with the use of laptops and mobile Internet connectivity.
Just another very good reason to prove that it is time the generation of our fathers and grandfathers, now still clinging to power, packed their bags and went home to rest. It is time to pass on the baton of leadership to a new generation whose age is closer to that of the nation.
See Other Features:
* You Too Can Launch A Part Time Business. But Here Is The Big Problem You Need To Overcome
* Kumekucha declares his interest in the Presidency
* Surgeon Catches Limuru Chief In Bed With His Wife