Sunday, February 27, 2011

President's cheerleaders left him with egg on his face

Otuma Ongalo
I wanted to write a congratulatory note to President Kibaki following his change of heart in controversial nomination of top judicial officers.
However, I recalled the words of Benjamin, the donkey, in The Animal Farm and changed my mind. Benjamin says he cannot thank God for giving him a tail to chase away flies when He could have created no flies.
I wanted to applaud Prime Minister Raila Odinga for having remained steadfast to ensure due process in the nominations. But again, I withheld my praises when I remembered one of the tales in Aesop’s Fables about the fox and sour grapes. The fox came across juicy grapes but could not reach them. After desperately leaping several times, he declared them sour and stormed away.
When Kibaki recently stepped on the doorsteps of Harambee House, the same venue of the signing of the National Accord, and retracted his nominees to top judicial positions, he was not doing the nation a favour. It was a face-saving manoeuvre that equally embarrassed his lieutenants, who had all along been urging him to stay put. In the shameless stunt, the lieutenants applauded the President’s change of heart. In less than a week, the same group had applauded when President Kibaki insisted that he had followed the due process and was waiting for constitutional court’s verdict. The egg-on-face scenario should be a reality check for Kibaki that some of the individuals who surround him as his advisers, both formal and informal, either lack the spine or honesty to tell him the truth whenever he goofs. One of them, Attorney General Amos Wako, seems to be gradually finding his guts as the clock fast ticks towards his imminent exit.
Kibaki should by now know that among his inner circles are those who will readily applaud him if he announces he plans to mortgage the country. Many of them are willing to back any debate that would put them on collusion course with their perceived enemies.
From Cairo to Cape Town, the tragedy of our continent is a leadership surrounded by the kings’ cheerleaders so long as their interests are catered for and safeguarded. And since the king, apparently, does not have his own mind, we end up with a phrase such as "he is a good man surrounded by bad people".
And that is why both President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila seem to be captives of their key allies in their series of love-hate relationship. There are those in Kibaki camp who will do their best to poison him against Raila and vice versa. And both of them cannot boldly tell their kings that there are stark naked.
That their stand on any issue is never governed by objectivity but partisan interests is manifested by the fact that disputes often pity individuals in politically predetermined camps. On one side it would be Kibaki, Kalonzo Musyoka, Uhuru Kenyatta, John Michuki, George Saitoti, Francis Muthaura, Alfred Mutua and others. On the other hand it would be Raila, Musalia Mudavadi, James Orengo, Otieno Kajwang, Dalmas Otieno, Rachael Shebesh, Miguna Miguna and others.
Apart from Wako, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo seems to have found a way of ensuring justice without appeasing political godfathers. Before him there was Martha Karua who sang her voice horse defending the empire before losing favour with its pillars. William Ruto and all those coalescing around him seem to have realised all over a sudden that ODM is a monster and PNU their guardian angel.
The wind of change sweeping across North Africa heralds some good news for the continent. It is a wake up call that power is no longer a preserve of rulers and their cronies. Those who do not heed the people’s voice now should begin writing their political obituaries. Who had known that Muammar Gaddafi, the self-declared king of kings, would be so desperate as the empire crumbles around him? This wind of change is so tantalising, let it blow south.

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