Read by Hon Najib Balala, MP, Parliament building, 2 April 2008;
On 28 February, our nation breathed a huge sigh of relief and celebrated with joy as the tension and terror that gripped the entire country was brought to an end through a painfully negotiated Accord signed by President Kibaki and Hon Raila under Kofi Annan’s guidance. It seemed then that the terrible crisis we lived through had, at the same time, opened up the possibility of addressing the festering wounds that have troubled the nation for four decades.
Five weeks on, we are still in the same place we were on 28 February. Not a single concrete step forward has been recorded in the negotiations. There have been endless meetings without any agreements. PNU is repeatedly raising issues and making claims about presidential powers and government structures that were rendered irrelevant by the constitutional amendment and the National Accord and Reconciliation Act.
The heart of the Accord is “real power sharing” and “portfolio balance.” PNU continues to try to circumvent these cardinal principles in order to either have its own way or delay the creation of a new government for reasons best known to itself.
Kenyans are getting anxious and even alarmed by the stalemate. Yesterday’s tear gassing of a group of human rights defenders led by our Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, who wanted only to deliver a letter addressed to the President and the Prime Minister designate on the need to limit the size of the csbinet, has further eroded the enormous goodwill among all Kenyans and raised fears that the old discredited methods of suppression are back in play.
In the meantime, numerous national priorities that need to be addressed urgently are being unattended to. Chief among these is the intense suffering of the very vulnerable IDPs in their scanty shelters in this rainy season, which will lead to increased illness and death among children in particular. PNU insists that they care deeply for the IDPs, and yet their words are belied by their actions.
Nearly 30 billion shillings needed to address the IDP and related issues were sought from donors two weeks ago. Donor ambassadors told the government then that funds for this exercise would only be released once a credible coalition government was in place. This applies to other donor funding for reviving the economy, tourism, agriculture, etc, which is also being held up as PNU delays the formation of this government by putting one hurdle after another in the negotiations.
So even as it delays the formation of a legitimate government which will allow IDPs and other suffering masses some relief, PNU was in a huge rush to ensure that the Safaricom went on sale without the built-in measures to ensure that privatizations are conducted in al lawful manner which benefits Kenyans, who as taxpayers helped build such profitable companies. It is hard to believe that ordinary Kenyans will only be able top purchase about 40 percent of the shares. A huge 35% of them are going to overseas investors, who will of course be primarily well-connected Kenyans with access to already vast fortunes abroad. More than a quarter of the shares are reserved for institutional investors.
The latest hurdle to the formation of the new government is the supposed drive by PNU to form what they term a “clean” cabinet, through which they are now aiming at one of us, Hon. William Ruto, as being disqualified. This is nothing less than laughable! The architects of the most ignominious mega corruption scandals, such as Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing, are serving in the PNU cabinet, as are others connected to organizing funding for Mungiki. And they are talking about vetting ministers to be proposed by Hon Raila for the cabinet? The Accord makes clear that PNU has no such power to challenge the names proposed by the head of the party.
This latest PNU ruse to raise side issues has a very simple purpose. By aiming at one of the pillars of the ODM team, and his region, these folk think they will be able to divide the party that decisively defeated PNU. Let me tell them that ODM unity is rock solid and cannot be undermined by cheap tactics of those who should be in the dock for their own crimes. If there is any evidence against Hon Ruto, why has this government which sees him as a key opposition figure, not prosecuted the case against him these last 4 years?
In any event, Kenyans know that it is ODM which stands for a cabinet which is both lean AND clean, That is why they elected us in overwhelming numbers. And that is why we believe that 25 is the ideal size of a cabinet, as we stated in our manifesto. We believe that even in the current circumstances, the best size is 28, and certainly no more than 30.
The fact is that we are back to the same situation as we were in 2002. Then Mr. Kibaki blithely reneged on an MoU that won him the presidency, claiming that the MoU was a private arrangement that did not need to be honoured. But this new Accord has the full force of the constitution and our laws behind it, and still the president is refusing to implement the power sharing arrangements. Kenyans would be forgiven for believing that the group in power has no intention of sharing or ceding, now or at any other time, the power it assumed on 30 December.
Let me conclude by saying that the currently stalled negotiations are not merely about the cabinet but about the formation of a legitimate government that will respected by all Kenyans. Government includes Permanent Secretaries, ambassadors, heads of parastatals, directors of state corporations and so forth. The cabinet is only the first step.
Kenyans will not tolerate any further delays in the formation of the new government.