THE BEST OF MUTAHI NGUNYI PART THREE: Why our second liberation is yet to be completed

Why our second liberation is yet to be completed


December 2003

This week, I want to give a suggestion to President Mwai Kibaki: He should fire his speechwriter! If we lived in a ”banana republic,” these people would have actually been charged with sabotage. What they gave the President to read on Jamhuri Day was flat and shoddy.

In fact, his speech on this day sounded like recycled material from the Madaraka Day and Kenyatta Day addresses. And what is worrying is that his speechwriters did not even seem to notice the repetitions. The question we should ask here is why?

The answer to this is simple: Maybe they also slept through the speeches! The long and short of things is therefore that someone is being negligent.

Let us now turn to the fact that the President has finally put his portrait on our currency. In my view, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, there would be nothing wrong if he put a family portrait on one of the currency notes.

What we must understand here is that President Kibaki is a human being. He has urges and excesses. To deny him some things is therefore ridiculous. It is like placing a pot full of honey in front of a little boy and expecting him not to dip his finger into the stuff! In other words, our new President is cuddling in the warmth and comfort of the institutions that shaped former President Daniel arap Moi. And, if this is the case, why should we be surprised if he ”hatched” into a dictator?

What we have witnessed in the last one year is the degeneration of President Kibaki from a reformer to a ”Toad King”. This process begins with the President becoming insensitive. At this point, he breaks one pledge after another without feeling a thing. And, as he does this, the question in his mind is: Where can you take me? In the case of the MoU for instance, we took him nowhere. The begrudged politicians yapped until the cows came home. Now the President has put his portrait on our currency and we will take him nowhere. The general attitude here is this: If you do not like it, you can sit on a pin!

Numbing his sense to popular voices will definitely degenerate into a state of paranoia. At this point, the President will make one blunder after another. And instead of correcting his mistakes, he will increase his speed in the direction of the wrong. This is where former President Moi was when he introduced ”Project Uhuru” to the country. The crowds booed him, his loyal followers in Kanu abandoned him and even his own people questioned his wisdom. But the more we rejected his ”project”, the more determined he became.

There is a lesson for President Kibaki here. He is increasingly becoming like Mr Moi during the 2002 elections. He is not yet paranoid, but his insensitivity could develop into ”political blindness”. Who knows how low he will have sunk by the 2007 elections? And this is what worries me.

Consider a hypothetical situation here. What would happen if President Kibaki decided to run for re-election in 2007 and lost? Would he and his men have the grace to hand over power peacefully? From the way they have behaved in the last one year, I doubt it. And where would that leave the country? At the risk of sounding crazy, I want to suggest the following: If we thought that Mr. Moi would plunge the country into civil strife, he proved us wrong. Narc is the party to plunge the country into civil strife. You just have to listen to the FM stations and the call-in television programmes to see a pattern. From the name of the caller, you can almost predict what they will say and what side of the divide they will take. In a disputed election, such polarity would certainly take ugly proportions.

But there are two possible ways out of this. The first one has to do with the agenda of the second liberation. This process was meant to achieve two things – to remove Mr. Moi from power and replace him with reform-minded leaders. This was done successfully. However, as we are beginning to realise, Mr. Moi was not the problem. The problem was the institutions he inherited from the Kenyatta. To change the leadership without changing the institutions is like treating cancer with Malaraquin. This is partly why the ”institutional cancer” in the presidency is beginning to affect President Kibaki.

Putting his portrait on our currency and junking the pre-election MoU are just manifestations of this cancer. This is why the other agenda of the second liberation was institutional reforms. Until this is completed, the second liberation will not have happened. More specifically, this refers to the constitutional review process. And, at this point I would want to address the delegates preparing for Bomas III on January 12, 2004.

It is my hope that you have had time to reflect on the issues at hand in Bomas III. We are also told that the politicians have spent this long break to bribe you. In my view you should take the bribes and use the money to enjoy your Christmas. You must realise at this point that you are involved in politics and that in this game there is no morality. As such, you should have fun on someone else’s account! However, when it comes to voting, you must reject the ”bribe givers” and vote for the country.

This is important because of the following reasons. If the second liberation had two phases, the first phase of replacing the leadership had to be carried out by 3.1 million voters. Replacing Mr Moi and his cronies was in my view the easy part. The second phase is the tough one. And this is where you come in. You are only 600 people, and the future of our country depends on you. I have two questions for you at this point. One, as you vote for issues, will you be thinking of your ”tribal chief” or your children? In my view, your tribe is your children. If you make a constitution for your children, you will have made a constitution for Kenya.

Two, consider the question of the Prime Minister’s post. And the question to you is this: If this post had been created before the 2002 elections, do you think President Kibaki would have ”trashed” the MoU? Do you think he would have put his portrait on our currency and retained corrupt ministers in his Cabinet? If the answer to these questions is no, then the cure to the ”institutional cancer” in the presidency is the creation of this post. Do think about it! The second possible way out of civil strife has to do with the Kikuyu. Now that the presidency has returned to the ”House of Mumbi”, some people from the community are convinced that it is there to stay. In my view, this kind of thinking is retrogressive and could result in ethnic animosity.Kikuyus should come to terms with the possibility that they could lose the presidency in 2007. As such, they should do two things: One, ”bank” with the other communities. This is important because they cannot survive alone in future. Two, they should disown the Kikuyu ”sharks” in the Kibaki government.

Unless they do so, the entire community will be blacklisted simply on account of a few people. In future, a Kikuyu presidential candidate would be rejected because of the misdeeds of isolated people. My submission therefore is: They should not support this regime blindly!

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