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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why Tom Mboya Would Have Supported Devolution

For those who know anything about the original Majimbo debate of the 1960s in the run up to independence, this headline would strike them immediately as being a rather curious one.

This is because Tom Mboya was a strong advocate against Majimboism as spelt out in the Lancaster House independence constitution and did everything in his power to frustrate it.

Another rare photograph of Jomo Kenyatta, Njoroge Mungai (right) and Tom Mbuya behind Kenyatta. There is no doubt on my mind (based on my knowledge of the man) that TJ would have supported Devolution as per the Bomas draft

Still I urge you to stay with me and I will prove to you why Tom would have strongly supported devolution as per the Bomas draft was he alive today.

For starters had he survived the assassination attempt he would have known that the very reason why his life was on the line was because centralizing all the power in one powerful executive office had produced some very predictable results. Thos with the power had abused it and wanted to retain the status quo. Tom dies because he stood in the way.

One of the things that devolution (Kusambaza kwa mamlaka) as per the Bomas draft, will do is to dramatically reduce some of the powers of the presidency (a point most debators on both sides are yet to realize). This dramatically reduces the chances of a kitchen cabinet milling around the centre of power and even if they still do, the impact of such an inner cabinet will be greatly dimished. This is because resources will already be in the districts and ther will be no need for people to attempt to get close to the president to get their share, like he was doing them a favor.

If you read the words in the national anthem (which Tom played a very key role in creating) you will understand what...

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Vikii said...

For the hundredth time, chris, I am appealing to you to keep the name of Tom Mboya out of these debates. We are in the kind of mess we find ourselves in because of the Mboyas of this world.He played a key role in creating Kenya's imperial presidency and no amount of good press will change that one fact. For heavens sake, Tom mboya was not an ordinary minister, he was a key player in the Kenyatta government and it is just unfortunate he sharpened the knife that eventually cut him.

Why dont you do his family, which is known to you, a favour? Please let him rest. I hate to have to say negative stuff about him and his deeds here for obvious reasons. You've got to stop lying to us chris.

I decided not to engage in the little debates introduced by Philemon othieno wesonga and swallowed by Chris about any perceived differences between devolution and federalism. we all know what Majimbo means. It is an "idea whose time came and went". It is not good FOR KENYA and that is why it will never find its way to Kenya again. In short, Kenya will NEVER be a majimbo nation, period!

Phil said...

Thats right Vikii, I am with you on this one. Chris is attempting to twist history. Infact, TJ is solely responsible for the constitutional mess this country finds itself in today. To me, TJ, just like present day Raphael Tuju, totally failed to represent the political interest of the poor and instead chose to politically support the rich. TJ went further to enact an imperial presidency in the constitution. That is surely unforgiveable.

Raphael Tuju on his part, has got absolutely no idea about what foreign affairs policy or international diplomacy is all about. The gains on regional peace made by the Nyayo regime through the late Dr. Bonaya Godana (am sorry Vikii, Kalonzo did not help matters here) like the Sudan peace agreement, the Somalia Transitional government and peace in the great Lakes region are all presently under severe threat because of lack of a clear cut foreign affairs policy and absence of diplomatic skill on the part of Kenya as Chair of the IGAD and a clueless regional economic kingpin!

To make matters worse, just like TJ did with the late Jaramogi, Tuju would rather spend time fighting ODM and Raila in imaginary battles than represent the political interest of his constituents who voted him to parliament. Please do not for one minute remind me of a dormant mobile clinic (which is no longer mobile) or selective rural electrification or water projects or road projects by the GNU and donors!

I conclude with a correction to you Vikii. Kenya will indeed adopt in the next few months a new constitution that will devolve the executive powers and give more political and economic autonomy to regional authorities. That is a guarantee.

Kerich said...

I totally agree with you phil.The dismissive Kibaki type of thinking that Kenya will never be a majimbo nation period is not helpful.It is said that we cannot solve today's problems with yesterday's thinking.Neither did 1st world countries achieve their status through rigid thinking.
Could the whole majimbo thing be disastrous? Of course indeed,but only because of two things,lack of political good will or poor planning and implementation(as happened in the sixties).Akina Mboya and Kenyatta had Majimbo fail because they wanted to maintain the imperial presidency and 44 years later we can see what that has bought us.
Kenya is in a constitutional quagmire and anyone who starts by accepting that gets my respect.Next thing is that we need to elect leadership that is committed to thinking critically and dynamically to yank us out of this mess. Kibaki has shown time and time again to enjoy the status quo.It is instructive that he even lauded sec 2a at it's inception and was a comfortable VP during it's implementation untill late 80's when he smelt the winds of multiparty change and cinveniently jumped ship. He proved it again by hijacking Bomas the peoples constitution that would have dine much to reduce his powers and devolve them only to try and shove down kenyan's throats a watered down Wako draft against the spirit and letter of the CKRC Act 97.
Is the Boams draft perfect?Hardly especially as concerns devolution;the working details of such a system are yet to be ellucidated.I however applaud the spirit behind it and I can only hope the next administration allows an open democratic and intelligent forum to tailor fit a lean and effective model of devolved government that is not cumbersome or expensive and a tamed president in a paliamentary system that doesnt lead to gridlock or the lameduck presidency phenomenon. I only hope to God that ODM are seroiuos in their calls for meaningful change and are not simply preying on the peoples desparation and hunger for change.
God Bless Kenya.

Anonymous said...

Hi all.

On the issue of my fathers role in creating an imperial presidency. I prefer not to comment. But i shall say one thing. If he did, his intention was not to consolidate power so that it could be abused to wreak the kind of havoc we have witnessed in the past, which he himself was caught up in too. On the issue of Majimbo. I agree that TJ was against it, and so am I. But My thinking is that he was against it not because he could not see the logic or the benefits, but because he felt that the time was not ripe. Kenya was still in a transitional state and majimbo would have created an additional burecratic and constitutional challenge. He (and Kenyatta) also felt that it was most important to consolidate Kenyas identity as a nation and one people first in the interest of stability. I do believe that if he were alive today he might well have supported majimbo if it was properly structured. TJ was not against Odinga per se. He really felt that Odingas communist leanings were a threat to Kenyas future. And he has been proved right as communism has ultimately failed. I do not agree that he was elitist. Yes in the sense that he had his elitist circle of friends, but no, that that was his mindset. He had plenty of opportunity to toe the line and sit back quietly in kenyatta's government and enrich himself which he did not do. What he died with he had earned unlike kenyatta, Moi, Njonjo and others. I'll have you know that Mboya was one of the politicians that fought hardest for the ending of the emergency. He constantly challenged the colonial Government on the illegal detention of Mau Mau suspects and the harrassment of Kikuyu, embu and Meru people during the emergency. In fact i have over 5,000 original letters written to TJ by detainees, telling him of the hardships in the camps and asking him to intervene. I am proud to say that in almost every instance, not only did TJ take action by personally visiting the governor and challenging him to give the same rights and privileges to the detainees as they would expect to be accorded to any British prisoner, but he also wrote back to them personally to update them on his progress. Why would he have bothered if he was elitist?
As for my own take on Majimbo. I dont think its a good idea for Kenya. I think ODM are using it insincerely for political mileage rather than because they believe it will solve Kenyas problems. Devolution as it is in the Bomas draft is a step in the right direction. But the peoblem in kenya is that different people have different understandings of Majimbo. Kenyas does not need majimbo but more devolution and most importantly the constitutional means to monitor and evaluate how the money is used once it is disbursed at the grassroots level. I have heard people in coast say that they want Majimbo because no indigenous person from coast owns a beach plot??? So they expect that Majimbo will somehow be a tool to evict those who own these properties to make way for them. This is absurd and a recipe for chaos. On a recent talk show, Mukisa Kituyi ran circles round Ruto on the issue of Majimbo because Ruto himself did not understand what it was. If the ODM can accurately decribe exactly what they mean by Majimbo and how it relates to devolution, and or whether they are the same thing then communicate this accross to board so that the expectations of kenyans on whatever it is they intend to implement are the same, then i would support it. But as of now I can only understand that they intend to make kenya a political guinea pig and experiment with different forms of Majimbo until they get it right. I would much rather a referendun where people can be informed about majimbo and how it would be implemented and then put to the vote so that it can be a process that is acceptable to the most number of kenyans. Otherwise its just an unneccessary risk.


Anonymous said...

Shaka said

Devolution is also called Ugatuzi.Oranges should change and start using the new term.Lets then see what the PNU will say.They always wait for ODM to lead the way then they follow by demonizing it

chris said...

Thanx Lucas finding the time to drop in. Thanx also for your well thought out comment. Of course I disagree with you about devolution but then that's not a problem, this is a free debate and free expression zone.


Taabu said...

Please people let TJ's soul RIP. You guys are so shamelessly flogging a dead and burried man even roping in his son. All the arguments on what he meant would have done or thought are premised on conjecture - forming opinions of hypothesis/assumptions.

Who knows whether the guys only meant good owing to his age and as a strategy to gather good will while bidding his time to join the looters at appropriate time when he came of age? See that is another conjecture. So please let us debate Ugatuzi( ama ni MATUSI) soberly lest we end up claiming that trees are the forest.

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