Grand failures of the Grand Coalition

January 21, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21 – The appointment of a twelve man team by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to manage the affairs of the coalition is a self indictment by the two principals of the National Accord.

While the coming into being of the coalition arrangement may have succeeded in calming the overt post election tribal animosities that threatened to tear Kenya into pieces, it has neither succeeded in restoring faith in the Kenyan Nation nor has it succeeded in creating a unity of purpose in the Kenyan people. The bickering by politicians on both sides of the coalition divide are just games calculated to keep the prevailing balance of power intact or intended to claw more power from each other.

In this melee, the most important progression steps that Kenya should be taking are being missed. For instance, the idea of making a new constitution which has been with us for the last twenty years may not achieve the desired effects even if one was actually written in the next one year. This is because Kenya is still divided. The people who supported the two political sides in the elections have only maintained a political truce and would willingly fight if their respective leaders beckoned them to. The President and the Prime Minister may meet every Wednesday, but they have done very little to inspire the Kenyan people to think as one people.

A home grown constitution should be the outcome of an uplifted and inspired people who, looking back to the worst in their past, determine to make rules for their future governance in order to achieve peace and development. The most prized outcome of a Constitution like this would be the acceptance that no one should be judged on the basis of their ethnicity but by the content of their character to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr.

The coalition has also failed to fight corruption. It is acknowledged worldwide that corruption is a cancer that can kill or permanently retard a nation. The scandals that are being unearthed in the Ministries of Agriculture, Energy and Transport span the political divide. The tragedy is that the coalition partners, rather than demonstrate their resolve to fight corruption by ensuring thorough investigations and prosecutions, they have engaged in a time wasting finger pointing exercise. The lesson that ordinary Kenyans are taking home from this, is that it is alright to engage in corruption as long as you are in government.

The shame of extending begging bowls to our development partners has returned to haunt Kenya at the watch of the Grand coalition. For instance the official government statistics in 2007 indicated that Kenya required only about six percent support from external sources to meet its budgetary needs. It also showed that there were adequate food reserves in case of an emergency. If it is true that these reserves were secretly exported to Sudan by some corrupt operatives in the government, then Kenya is worse off under the Grand Coalition arrangement.

Most of the leaders in government today were fervent critics of the retired President Daniel Arap Moi during his tenure and in particular in the 1990’s. They accused him of being a terrible dictator and a tribalist who was ruining the Kenyan economy. When the Narc coalition decisevely defeated Uhuru Kenyatta who was Moi’s choice in the 2002 elections Kenyans were jubilant. They anticipated a bright future of democracy, freedom and a Kenya where no or minimal corruption thrived. They also longed for better, forward looking, focused and inspiring leadership.

Unfortunately so far, our leaders have made Mr Moi look so good. The preponderant feeling across Kenya today is that, ‘the beautiful ones are not yet born’. Unless there is a powerful transformation of our leaders like of Saul to Paul, Kenyans should look beyond the current crop of leaders for any hope of meaningful change in Kenya.

(Kamau Mbugwa is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. Read his blogs at


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