NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Martha Karua’s resignation on Monday is a bitter pill to some, and a score for the political ambitions of others.
University of Nairobi sociologist Ken Ouko says the resignation is likely to have far reaching effects on the political class, the country’s reform agenda and her Presidential ambition.
He argues that President Mwai Kibaki’s reputation is at stake since Ms Karua accused operatives in his office of frustrating the reform agenda. Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Dr Ouko adds, could be among the gainers from the big fallout in Mr Kibaki’s PNU coalition.
Dr Ouko spoke exclusively to Capital News.
Q. What does this move mean?
A. The public is getting very restless about the coalition government and I think this has catalysed public opinion and whetted their appetite for change. There is an obvious opinion especially on the coalition government being discordant and confused.
Q. What does this mean to the President?
A. The fact that she has pulled a rag from under the President’s feet is a scoop because then the public will start saying, “something needs to happen and your own minister has shown you that something is not right.” Secondly there is likely to be reorganisation of the government by the President.
Q. Who wins here?
A. I think Martha Karua comes out as a winner being the first Minister to resign under such circumstances. So in that way she cuts a niche for herself. Secondly the ODM comes out laughing and saying “look at them roasting in their own oil”. So unless PNU has a good PR, which they don’t, they are bashed.
Q. What is the extent of loss to the country?
A. There is such a setback on the reforms in this country. For example, everyone knows that there is a crisis in the Judiciary. But the fact that she has left tells us that there is nothing we can do about it.
There is a message she is sending to Kenyans. She is actually telling us we need to look for an alternative in terms of reforms in this country.
Q. Does it mean we are out on reforms?
A. This government has no reformists, even the ODM side is just kicking around. The Orengos and Kiraitus of ten years ago are no longer there. Agenda Four which was essentially under her ministry is as good as gone. With this resignation we have taken a huge beating in terms of the reforms agenda and somebody somewhere will have to kick start it in another way that is not the grand standing we are seeing now.
Q. Talk about PNU’s loss.
A. They are definitely going to get into a turmoil fighting over who takes over the vacant seat and by the time they recover – if they do – then everything in the government will have gone wrong. But it could be worse if other members of Narc Kenya decide to follow the example of their chairman.
Q. Where does this place Kibaki and Raila?
A. The President has of course come out with egg in his face. This shows that the reformists are not on the side of the President and he will have to a lot work to convince Kenyans that PNU is concerned about Kenyans and not themselves. What he could probably do is to reach out to Raila to help reorganise the government. Raila looks like he will be smiling for the temporary duration. He and Karua had their own issues but as we have seen lately they seem to be singing the same song.
Q. Does this significantly affect her Presidential ambition?
A. As it stands she has very high moral ground and moving away from the Cabinet gives her an opportunity to scream all she wants since collective responsibility is gone. Secondly, sympathy is certainly going to come her way. But as you know a month or a week is very big in the political arena.
Q. She has been very aggressive; do you think she will sustain this?
A. The beauty about her is that everybody believes she is a very abrasive woman who can take on three men at the same time – which she has successfully done – fighting everybody in government and not caring any bit. So that gives her credit as somebody who can fight it out.
Q. Everybody remains skeptical on the existence of the coalition government.
A. You can bet, for the sake of their selfish interest, most likely it will stay put. However it will not deliver anything. It will be a government that will be a blot in the history of this country. A year is gone and we have not seen anything they have done in terms of reforms, political atmosphere or ethnic relations.
Q. Is this a sign of things to come?
A. The credibility of the government is on the platform. Suppose another one quits tomorrow. Others might be in government but they will be saying I might….when we have such a government then there is a problem.