We must be partisan about Kenya’s next leader

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NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU

I have spent a lot of time and resources over the last four years learning about how to ensure the next general elections do not leave Kenya in the kind of mess we found ourselves in after 2007. However the most powerful lesson I have learnt so far is the folly of non-partisanship, a tag fronted by all manner of people every time Kenya is at a cross-road.

In 2010 it was the constitution; I was ‘YES’ and did everything I could to defend this position. However, I accepted that others had to be ‘NO’ for their own reasons. Despite this I stood on my position and did whatever I could to deliver on it. Now I have taken a deliberate position on who I prefer as the 4th President of Kenya and am doing what I can to deliver on it. My reasons for my choice are guided by a conversation I was part of slightly over a year ago.

In August 2011 I was invited to speak to a group of leading Kenya Corporate titans at a weekend retreat as they looked at what role they, and others like them, could play to ensure Kenya goes beyond the next elections peacefully. After dinner one evening as we were seated around a bonfire the conversation drifted off into the issue of leadership transitions in the corporate world.

We analyzed how nearly every successful transition at the very top of leading corporations locally and abroad seemed to follow a common route. New Executive Chairmen or Chief Executive Officers who took over corporations and led them to greater heights than their predecessors tended to be those who had initially been senior officers without portfolio under the previous leadership, with big-title offices and little or no direct power of their own, who had successfully navigated beyond the confines of such dead-end situations.

A key aspect was how for example a deputy chairman with no portfolio dealt with lower office holders who had direct power within the confines of their role, when such deputy chairman needed something done for them. Did they intimidate/threaten or negotiate? This was crucial especially in those cases where the lower officer had a direct link with the ultimate boss, knew the deputy chairman had no real power, and maybe even believed that the deputy chair did not deserve the big office. Maybe the lower officer could even be a rival with the deputy chairman.

We realized that in every case the person who succeeded beyond this ‘no-power’ office situation to become a good leader was ultimately the one who learnt how to negotiate with those below them, especially the rivals, who had lower offices but direct power. We agreed that only the deputy chairman who learnt how to convince the marketing director to a certain decision over a cup of coffee, would make it as chairman someday. Only those able to create win-win situations with junior officers through dialogue rather than force went beyond their present circumstances to ultimate leadership.

We accepted that going through such a process requires extreme humility, wisdom and a willingness to negotiate and see beyond ones interest. However the end result is a person who learns to see beyond their own interests, and who can create scenarios where everybody wins. Such a leader learns to build united efforts around him or her, rather than divide and rule to manage others. This is the only way a leader can survive in situations where they must work with everybody, whether they like them or not.

I am convinced this process applies even more in politics. Jomo Kenyatta had to go through it; Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki too. Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama had to follow this route. In fact Obama still has to do it, again.

If Kenya’s 4th President is to go beyond where Kibaki has reached, he or she will have passed through a similar process. Raila Odinga has not been perfect as he went through this process, but when I try to imagine what any of the other presidential candidates would have done in his shoes I have to admit that none could have done half as well as he has.
As prime minister, jokes have even been made by some PNU stalwarts about how he has a big office but less direct power than ministers and government functionaries that report to him. However he has not only survived in the office for over four years and achieved several things that he needed done; but he has done it despite attempts to humiliate and sabotage him at nearly every stage, and in spite of direct disrespect bordering on contempt from some officers below him.

I have made my choice and I am being deliberately partisan about it. What is your choice? Why? Can we all be deliberately partisan about who we prefer as Kenya’s 4th President, and why? It might be the only way we will prove that we actually care about what type of leader takes the helm after President Kibaki retires.

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  • Boiyot

    If that was meant to persuade us towards your choice candidate, then you’ve got to try harder and actually use some substance….

  • ngotho

    What are you talking about? The ten years have been politicking and no meaningful development. Just coin another story and try to convince us again. Can you prove the sabotage? Simply put, it has been ‘our time to eat’ from him. (It is funny that now you admit he has been the deputy and not an equal partner)

  • Am amzed by your narrowness marked by empty hype on nothing. Obviously, compared to other presidential candidates, your favorite idol, Raila Odinga, has done more harm to the country than all combined. He pales behind each one of them in achievements and ideas as well. There is nothing substantive that can really be attributed to him. His theatrics have always been misplaced, mostly off the mark. While he attempts to set the pace, those attempts are mostly lacking in substance, or simply mere twisted lies that can hardly stand any shred of scrutiny. Of course, repeated assault on Miguna Miguna with phrases like “baby run baby” offer perfect example. We had been bombarded with certainy that the guy had fled from justice. However, when he checked back in town, everything went dead silent, why? Certainly somebody had been caught lying! The best way as usual, is to play deaf to reality. We have faced this sort of things ever since Raila came on the scene.

    During the campaign for new constitution, utter drunken confusion reigned supreme. Reformers vs nonreformers and even watermelons were introduced in the campaigns. Apparently, desperate person armed with alot of nothing was trying to find some bearings. In that desperation, the above offside matters were brought on board. But Kenyans were only required to decide when to amend the new law! Kenyans without any reason at all were fed with false inappropriate stuff that was not even necessary, let alone being applicable. Needless to say, no single Kenyans was opposed to the document. But apparently, merchants of deceit had supposedly set the pace and their appeasers were to take the cue without questions! Of course, purported reformers were presumably delivering a constitution to Kenyans! What an utter nonsense!

    We dont even have to imagine what these fakes could do to the country if they were ever given instruments of power . A leader is supposed to be clear-minded with no shred of drunken hangovers at all. A purported able leader with vision and supposed reform credentials, cant be confused. A leader has to show to the way. A genuine leader cant spent 5 long long years in the most powerful position in the republic and surprisingly, afford to be want of achievements. He cant spent such a long time clouded by small things like protocol issues, carpets, toilets, football and parable antics. Any country that can afford to surrender power to such an illogical would be damned. We need idealistic and achievement-laden individuals like brother VP Kalonzo Musyoka. He is truly our best bet. He has remained pretty cool, embraces decency without going on rooftops to shout about it! He has real ideas and achievements that speak for themselves. He doesnt mix half-truths and outright lies to fashion himself.

  • Pops

    Wambugu, you set the tone well by clearly stating why you stick with your choice, and here I follow. My choice: One man or woman who really understands the `state ´ called Kenya. Understands where she came from, what has been in her and what is capable of her. Tells me clearly of what Kenya should be with regard to all spheres of life and living in a society. He/She may not have it all, but is open and has shown the will to work with the masses regardless. A man or woman who has at one time in life also suffered consequences of what he/she stands for – and made the same open and known to all. A man or woman, who in his everyday endeavours, including today 21st August 2012, has said or done what has meaning to a group or section of society.
    I beg to continue: a man or woman. who has the passion and determination for a cause that is shared by all and has maintained it for as long as we remember including: constitutionalism, pluralism, democrasy, and devolution. Freedom of speech and expression, independence of institutions and practically full adherance to the rule of law. Why it is a make or break election: maintaining life as has been in Kenya: puppet-judiciary, ignorance to the existence of law, mis-rule, greed to a level where decent life makes no sense as is and has been before, or choosing a new path based on society and human values. In my take, what stinks, tends to smear and make stink, what doesnt stink. Kenya needs be a super power, by now, in Africa. We deserve a place closeby or past S. Africa. We deserve a Pan-African identity, and a worthy name, across the world. In my heart, and in yours as well, you can see and visualize who among our presidential aspirants can achieve close to, if not. this.

    • @Pops: Obviously, in this country, no single man can claim any level of ownership of constitutionalism, pluralism, democracy, devolution and even freedom of speech. But we have had confused conman purporting to be the only reformer in a land of 40million people! And of course, you do know only a conman can self-praise. If the character was indeed genuinely the only reformer, the only giver of constitution, the only vehicle to democratic dispension, surely he wont even talk about it. The real tragedy is that guys who dont even understand issues, either out of sheer drunken ignorance, or outright insanity, pretend to have done this or that for us. However, the evidence on the ground point to a totally different thing altogether! And need we add that, state house requires a clear mind not fellows seemingly held back by drunken hangovers!

      • Pops

        @Kwessi You are right. No single man or woman may acclaim sole ownership of key political values in Kenya, in exclusion of all Kenyans. One other thing, I realise without attaching existing politicians to such discussions, we may always agree on almost all issues as bloggers, citizens and most importantly countrymen. It is obvious therefore that the passion or hatred with which all of us love or loathe our presidential candidates is out of the scope of the true leadership ideals that all of us individually know and should champion for. This, in my opinion, means we have a few or more problems as follows:
        1. As Kenyans, Kwessi and Pops, seated together and asked to chat qualities or ideals of our next president without any reference to the present contenders, we will purposefully list very good points and personality traits.
        2. Asked now to match the points in (1) above to any of the present contenders, we veer off into picking out the one we hate and pour all sorts of …whatever negative we have heard of….
        3. In pursuit of point (2), we veer off point (1) further and pick our loved candidate (for reasons outside the scope in point 1)… and project them as our choice. These reasons outside point (1) scope in Kenya today are tribalism, and the degree of hate of the hated candidate.
        That is the bad side, the good side I believe is, we can still agree. If you dont mind, let us list down the items in point (1) and strictly do it without any reference to present presidential candidates. Assume you are a Senegalese or Namibian. Personally, only qualities to meet my presidential candidate are still known to me. I am trying to match hence not mentioned any individual yet.

        • @Pops: I entirely agree with your stuff. However, when am discussing issues, or any leader for that matter, I dont employ malice or whatever. I lay bear the facts. I might at times sound very aggressive and passionate, but certainly I have no hate for anyone at all. We hate the acts, especially the deceitful ones. For instance, am sure you noticed that once somebody claimed that brother Miguna Miguna had taken off for good, alot of publicity was given to that. However, once he came back, with clear implication that somebody had maliciously lied, is like the guy never came back. Of course, attempts are being made to make sure that Miguna is no longer news “for disaproving us!” In a distorted situation like this, you surely cant fail to point fingers pal.

          Secondly, we are approaching elections and as such, its only natural we try in our small ways to pass the truth to the people as far possible. There is no time to build new leaders. We have to do with the ones we have already. Actually, they are not that bad. Only one or two of them have been using falsehoods and hyper corruption to fashion themselves. As a patriotic Kenyan, I have no qualms in exposing such characters. As far as am concerned, we are deep in electioneering campaigns. Which is actually true. Am not in to this for sentimental purposes pal. I can not therefore afford to hide behind words to please some folks or whatever. Everytime I comment, I try to leave everything clear for all to think about it. Ambiguities cant provide solutions to our problems pal! You have to say this or that folk is misleading and why.

          Am sure you noticed how many times I have repeated the drunken confusion that was employed during the referendum campaigns for the new constitution by Raila. Of course, he was only trying to position himself to pretentiously scoop false feat. Thats why he never hesitated to claim the ownership of the new law! Of course, with all sincerity, his input was too limited and with even drunken hangovers. He out of place called brother VP Kalonzo Musyoka watermelon simply to try to deny him the credit he deserved. You know the one who made it all possible, brother Hon. Mutula Kilonzo, comes from Kalonzo’s Wiper party and is even its secretary general. To attempt to undercut that obvious connection between Kalonzo’s Wiper Party and the new constitution, those who thrive in rampant lies had to insult the VP.

          You know as much as I do, had Mutula belonged to Odm, Kenyans would have been drowned in massive propaganda that PM Raila had taken us to Canaan! We would have found ourselves washed off by tsunami of idolizing. He would have become something larger than a cult leader. But what really amazes me is the fact that the guy is never willing to let any other person get any shred of credit at all. But he is even prepared to fake it for himself! These are traits of a conman pal! It would be a huge sin if Kenyans are not told about these things. Thats why I have been very appreciative of brother MIguna Miguna’s contribution towards that end. VP Kalonzo Musyoka is my favorite because even in situations that are certainly demeaming and unacceptable, he still maintains his cool and dignity. He has been very idealistic and issue-oriented. But that hasnt saved him from insults from merchants of deceit. Of course, guys like PM Raila cant do without insults and character assassinating. Kenyans of course cant benefit from those empty antics. You know in order to cut tribalism in campaigns, Kalonzo asked his fellow presidential candidates to have joint open debates but they all shied away. Of course, a good lot of them, apart from public yelling about this or that issue, cant decently debate at all.

          You must understand that in election year, you have to face hard realities and even possibly, attempt to educate. You can not do so when all you do is to hint. You have to say it as it should. And as long as you can prove what you say, you dont have to be afraid at all. Kenyans have been misled for far too long dear. Singing empty songs of reform, while as stagnant as water in a drum cant help this country pal. Time to use those songs to put down your opponents is past sellby date my friend. Purporting to be a giver of all while in actual sense, armed with alot of nothing is totally unacceptable. A leader armed with empty pronouncements that are lacking in ideas and inspiration is a misleader pal. A character who uses his village folks to fake opinion polls that keep him at the top for solid 5 years continuously, unmatched impossible feat in the history of polls, is not a leader but a fraud. These are some of things we cant endure pal. They drive us and ironcladly hold them dear.

  • I loved your article until you mentioned Raila. Not that I have anything against the man, but he is far from your description. He employs his relatives in state jobs and claims they are qualified, he surrounds himself with questionable characters with known corruption cases like Isahakia and Henry Kosgey and you claim he is clean. He discredits our courts and calls the ‘koti bandia’ and later claims his swahili was the cause of the mishap. This man flipflops on all decisions, look at what he said about MRC yesterday, 20th August 2012 and compare with his earlier position.

    You have to try harder and convince us why we need to elect this man. For now, I can’t see a single reason. If we go with anti-corruption and reform, i’d rather we go with Martha, if development, i’d rather with go with Kenneth, if cohesion of the society and a new way of doing politics, I’d rather go with the gentleman, Musalia. My choice would be Musalia followed by Kalonzo since I feel Kenya’s greatest need now which should be guided by a sober person who will rekindle the love for each other as countrymen after our division over a couple of the past few years, you know driven by who? 41 against 1 if that rings a bell.

  • A good story teller, but a poor negotiator. It is in the record that the PM was not consulted during the appointment of some judicial officers who included Visram, Githu muigai and others and the decision was reversed. The PM was not consulted as the 47 county representatives were appointed, a case in court now. What other powers would one expect to have to make reforms?. He spear headed the removal of Mau ‘illegal’ settlers and succeded most of them are now IDPs. On 11th September, 2012, the PM ordered for the resettlement of the Mau evicts in 14 days after the rift valley ODM parliamentarians threatened to leave the party. Wambugu, is that not power enough when the PM does not consult the executive to execute the resettlement exercise. Weekly citizen paper of 17-23 September, 2012 reported that the PM welcomed Uhuru, the TNA presidential flag bearer, to Nyanza region and ‘even alerted the local security team in Nyanza to ensure all was well to his deputy while on campaign trail for his (Uhuru’s) party Ndthiwa MP by-election candidate and for sure uhuru received a rousing welcome, does he really fall under the category you were talking about, i don’t think so. Last but not least, a person who attempted to overthrow a legitimate Government and has the guts to write about it ( ‘The Enigma’), no raila no peace, and truly peace fades away, the railway uprooted, and eventually demands for ‘half a loaf in the Government and gets it, is a senior with no powers who uses diplomacy to negotiate and get things going?

    I am more convinced the likes of Ngindo matiba, Charles Rubia, Wanyiri Kihoro, Koigi wa Wamwere, Anyany Nyo’ngo, James Orengo, George Anyona, Njenga Mungai and others worked hard without reward for the second liberation of this country (reintroduction of multiparty politics),and notably under going self sacrifice without causing violence, death or destruction of properties like what was witnessed in 1982.
    You need to repeat this one, you have failed yourself and painted your dream black

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