In the hallowed halls of the United States Senate, the nuclear option is pulled by a side that feels strongly about an issue on which it's about to lose. In the estimation of the senators who employ this tactic, the passage of a certain bill, or confirmation of a man/woman to a position of influence, would so irreparably harm their constituents to the point where they feel it's absolutely critical to tie up the Senate's business until their fears and other pertinent issues are addressed. That's what the Democrats did to stall the nomination of judges they considered controversial to the United States Supreme Court.
I bring up this concept of the nuclear option because I think we are fast approaching the point where it will need to be pulled in the Kenyan Parliament. It's indeed encouraging that our Members of Parliament are discovering the enormous power they retain to slow down the Executive branch. You watched with satisfaction as one of the most powerful members of the Kibaki Cabinet was reminded that the laws of our nation apply to all, not just to the small man. And you've watched the increasing assertiveness of that body, especially given the impressive credentials that most members bring to the table. Gone are the days of Chotara, Nassir and Mwenje. These are the days of men and women who understand that there is honor in being principled.
Kenyans are aware that when the coalition government was put together, there was no clause that bound the parties to stick together even in the face of massive corruption and blatant impunity. Indeed, were such a clause to have been slipped in there, we would have been glad to demonstrate our maturity by kicking it out.
At this juncture, we find ourselves at a point where the nuclear option is becoming a relevant tool in dealing with our out-of-touch president, and the men who prop up his administration. In Kenya the way to pull the plug is to marshall enough votes to pass a vote of no confidence in the president, just like it was done with Kimunya. By my count, it's beginning to look like the votes are there. Many MPs who fought like crazy to keep Kibaki in power are slowly realizing that they made a huge mistake. And they sense that the way to make atonement is to do something dramatic.
That's where the nuclear option comes in.
What Comes Next?
When this option is pulled, we must all understand that it will mark the end of a presidency. That being the case, I want to count on the fact that our leaders have not been sitting on their laurels, forgetting that the fight to deliver the nation from the shackles of recklessness and impunity has not been won. Luckily, our leaders have not been asleep. Indeed, it is comforting to know that when the nuclear option is pulled, there will be an immediate power structure to fill the vacuum and deal decisively with any elements that may seek to capitalize on the transition period to cause despondency in the country.
The march to push Kenya to the next level of greatness is ongoing. We have the brains and the wealth to make our nation the leader in medical and technological innovation, we have the capability to push forward the rural electrification program and make clean water available to our mothers and fathers in the villages across Kenya. But as the events of the past six months have amply demonstrated, these noble goals can't be realized as long as we are embroiled in sorting out the shenanigans of men like Kimunya, Kibaki and the crazies who support them.
Can Kenya Work Together?
You may have heard from pessimists that our nation is hopelessly divided. That we see ourselves as Luo, Kikiyu, Kalenjin, Luhya... If that's true, it's because of the retrogressive politics entrenched by the lack of vision of our three presidents. But yes, Kenya can and is ready to work together. The nation is praying for a leader who will transcend the parochialism of tribe and see in the pleading faces of Kenya's children a desire for effective, fatherly leadership. A leadership that will make Cerelac and milk available to the infants, uniform and books to the school-going kids, mentoring programs for adolescents and livable wages for men and women across the land.
It's my firm belief that when the nuclear option is pulled and the Prime Minister is put in charge of ushering in a representative constitution and proper elections held, we will have laid the foundation for a sustainable democracy that won't need the repeated nudging of external powers. We can't continue to be the white man's burden forever, can we? It starts by doing things right.
The first step, the nuclear option. A vote of no confidence.
For Love of Country,
Guest post by Sam O. Okello