Guest blog post
By Onguso Ochengo
There has never been competition for the title bestowed upon one Niccolò Machiavelli as the father of Realpolitik i.e. Politics 101.
Among many of his political dictums, the one that put him at cross-roads with the moral-minded members of the world is his assertion that Politics is AMORAL-meaning, in politics there is no morality!
Do you know why it was necessary to enact issues of leadership and integrity through your Constitution? Do you know why issues of morality have been difficult for the EACC to regulate in our body of politics? The answer is simple. In its natural state, morality is alien to politics.
Why have I belabored to have the above explanation?
The society is largely a moralistic entity. For good, they expect good to be paid and for bad they expect the wronged to turn the other cheek.
Therefore, when a politician supports the other, the masses believe that there should be reciprocity at the former’s time of need. Now this is where we have to distinguish between political debt and political expectation.
In politics, there is nothing like a political debt. A debt is something that is enforceable if it arises from a legally binding contract or rather transaction unless one is adjudged bankrupt. The nature of political debts is such that they are above the realm of law. They are not binding, therefore, the concept of Political Debt in itself is a fallacy! What remains therefore is political expectation.
Political expectation is not enforceable. Why? The expectation is in the realm of the masses and not in the realm of the political elites. Elites operate on one unique but constant wavelength: INTEREST! Political expectation is prevalent among the masses because the masses believe that political good must be paid by political good. Any sane politician knows that there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies meaning, whenever they enter into an arrangement, the politician in his private engagements is fully aware that the arrangement can change at any time.
What do the Kikuyu owe William Samoei Kipchirchir Arap Ruto? Having stated that the idea of a political debt is but a fallacy, your answer is as good as mine. In 2022, the Kikuyu nation (by this I mean the Kikuyu elite who decide on behalf of the masses) will operate on the wavelength of Interest and not on some unknown debt. Hakuna deni ya mtu, Period! If the interests of William Ruto and those of the Kikuyu elite coincide, then the political expectations of the moralistic masses can be met as a by-product and not as the main product.
Assume in 2013 you were in a room of the political bigwigs: Mudavadi, Eugene Wamalwa, Kalonzo, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
From my earlier article, we discussed the centrality of resources/Money-in politics. He who has resources can buy all other sources of power beginning with-physical force, state action, ideas and most importantly numbers. Therefore, among the team named above, Uhuru Kenyatta was the (Primus inter pares-first among equals). In short, I’m endorsing George Orwell’s Proposition that all are equal and some are more equal than others.
Uhuru was definitely ahead of the rest. He assumes the seat of de facto Presidential Aspirant looking for a Deputy.
Mudavadi arrives in the room to present his papers. With the charisma of a tortoise, he demands Uhuru vacates the Presidential aspirant’s seat because Kenyans are not ready for another Kikuyu president. Uhuru is convinced and steps aside temporarily.
Some political genius reveals to Uhuru the fallacy and tells him the advantage he has of the Kikuyu numbers and the resources at his disposal. Mudavadi is ousted from the seat for consulting the darkest of forces. The game has to be played in light. Now Uhuru reassumes his seat and has to choose a deputy among Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Eugene Wamalwa.
Eugene is likeable yes, no political garbage, eloquent and from the populous Luhyia nation. Uhuru likes him but the problem is not Eugene but the organization of the Luhyia Community. Kalonzo comes in and states his political seniority over the rest. ‘I have done shuttle diplomacy to save your necks guys. I’ve been a VP and I have no Political baggage. Let me be president.’ They laugh and tell him, ‘Musyoka, look at the shrubs at Mtito Andei, your votes are as few as those shrubs.’
Then the hustler opens his briefcase and says, “My friend, we held a referendum, these are the numbers I garnered. These are the numbers the Kalenjin and the pastoralist communities of North Eastern and the Maasai have. With these numbers, my energy, your numbers and your resources we will form government. Ama namna gani my fren? Be the President, Let me be the Deputy!”
One became president, based on his numbers and resources, the other became Deputy based on his numbers and resources-period! This was barter trade, period. A give and take! Where is the debt? The only thing that remains is political expectation-incapable of enforcement.
Okay, assume you hold a contrary opinion that indeed there is a true concept of political debt, let’s count. Jaramogi, while Kenyatta was in prison refused the idea of independence with a Kenyatta in prison i.e. Uhuru na Kenyatta. If it were a debt, has it been paid? Raila Odinga helped Mwai Kibaki in 2002. If it were a debt has it been paid? Kalonzo supported Raila in 2013 and 2017 respectively, though we’ve not reached 2022, if the recent outbursts are anything to go by, one can tell what the happenings will be. If it were a debt, will it be paid?
If these were debts, to be repaid by the masses, then the Kikuyu must start by paying the Odingas before they pay the 2013 debt for Chinua Achebe, regarding debts said, ’even the sun shines on those who are standing before it shines on those who are kneeling before them-meaning, older and bigger debts have to be paid first before newer and smaller debts are paid.
In conclusion, political debts are non-existent. Political expectations are allowed but unenforceable, period!
Ochengo is a lawyer and political analyst