12 January 2013

Kenya: Expectations in the Post 2013 Election Political Dynamics


Kenya's 2013 elections don't just guarantee a change of guard, but also consolidates the new constitutional dispensation through county governments. Herein after are a few political dynamics to look out for in the post election period.

First is that, as the theatre of political activity and policy decision making spreads further away from the centre to the grassroots and the periphery, people will become less obsessed with the presidency.

They will soon realise that "even my tribesman who is the governor can be as corrupt and oppressive like the leaders in Nairobi". A new thinking that makes us rethink our safety under the leadership of just our tribesmen at the county level will begin to take shape. That's how devolution will detribalise Kenya.

CDF has been mismanaged despite being handled by local tribesmen. I expect counties not be any different. They are going to be a reflection of who we are as a nation- Corrupt!

Second is that the post 2013 election period will be a time we realise that these ethnic-based coalition entities scheme to be in the next government regardless of who wins. Nobody wants to be in the opposition.

Demands for exclusivity and zoning of regions are a euphemism for "if we lose am out". No wonder joint nominations are controversial. Every tribal party wants MPs in its name, not the coalition name.

Third is that an Uhuru win, will mean that he works with Ruto in a coalition. Expect wrangles galore and claims of betrayal to grace the post election Jubilee coalition. Their treatment of Mudavadi's UDF is clear demonstration that what the two sign on paper is just that- signature on a piece of paper.

Tracing of Ruto's political journey reveals a wrangles intensive gentleman. He doesn't have a good track record or staying power in political working arrangements, probably due to his (what Miguna 2012 called) "ambitious and restless" personality. From his rebellion against Moi to whom he later apologised and reconciled in the 1990s to post 2002 Kanu wrangles with Uhuru, to post 2007 ODM wrangles with Raila, Ruto's political profile has been inundated with wrangles against any political partner he deals with. He seems fixated on short-term objectives that his choices of political allies seem to be premised on.

A predictable streak is evident that Ruto's political brand thrives on antagonising his political base against his partners once he gets what he wanted. He operates like this "wounded man" who tricks an ally to perform first aid on him, but once he regains fitness, he "trains his guns" on that very ally.

In 2007, Ruto's intention was to vanquish the Moi political empire, and that is why he worked with Raila. Once that task was accomplished, his pre-occupation evolved into destroying any Raila tentacles in Rift Valley. That is why Ruto's fiction story "that Raila had a role in his ICC predicament came about".

In 2013, Ruto's goal seems to be developing a monolithic URP zone in the bread basket province. If that gets accomplished, he will most likely "turn his guns" on Uhuru, with claims of betrayal of the Jubilee alliance agreement. I can predict, or do I say prophesy.

Rather than spur development initiatives, Ruto's solicitation of Rift Valley support revolves around unifying his people against a common enemy- like Mau forest conservationists and courts.

Fourth is that an Uhuru-Ruto win in March would mean that sanctions would probably be imposed effectively making it an isolated and limping presidency. In the West, if you have questionable character like a suspected felon, you cannot even find a sweeper's job, let alone run for president, that's why the West would have moral and cultural issues dealing with an Uhuru-led government. Nothing personal. Just a clash of civilisations.

So to overcome the sanctions challenge, the reference case study is the 1990s Moi era, where the compromise prescription by the Bretton Woods institutions was that the cash strapped Moi government brought in the Dr Richard Leakey-led Dream Team which donors could do business with.

A Mugabe-Tsvangirai coalition was forced down the throats of the Zimbabweans by a regional body SADC not even the West, testament to how Zimbabwe's spine had been weakened by sanctions. SADC countries were tired of hosting Zimbambweans who were fleeing sanctions.

A sanctioned Kenyan regime might subject us to conditions imposed by the EAC, read Uganda and Tanzania- - who might get tired of hosting Kenyan refugees.

Now no-one knows what the sanctions remedy might be, but another grand coalition government might be one of the conditions that the West or even Uganda or EAC countries might impose.

They could ask a sanctioned and cash-strapped Uhuru administration to incorporate some credible and reformist elements in Cord into government as one of the preconditions for lifting sanctions.

Sospeter Otieno comments on topical issues

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