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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dark secrets of the presidency Part 10

Proud Makerere Don

Despite being President Moi’s Vice President for 10 long years, it is rather obvious that Mwai Kibaki learnt very little or nothing from his long stint as VP. Very much unlike Moi before him.

One thing that was always very clear during Kibaki’s campaign for the presidency was that he thought of Moi as an uneducated fool who ran a government full of fellow illiterates who had never gone to school and there was therefore nothing to learn from him. This is the arrogant attitude that Kibaki carried with him to State House in January 2003. This was further confirmed by an insistence on CVs before any public appointments would be made. There was no doubt that the idea here was to catch people who had no university education since this appears to have been the minimum bench mark that Kibaki had set in his early months as president of Kenya. Not only that, the president had his preferences in Universities with UK universities and Makerere being at the top of his list.

The speech Kibaki made at Uhuru park on being sworn in as president was even more telling. He clearly emphasized that the era of road side directives and appointments was over.

Again one his close aides, Kiraitu Murungi put it even more bluntly when he arrogantly said in a speech;

“We want Moi to retire to his Kabarak home and look after his goats and we will show him how a government should be run.”

What must have been going through Kibaki’s mind was that he was taking over from illiterates who knew nothing and with his credentials and those he would appoint the whole mess would be magically wiped out literally overnight. It was a very simplistic view which the president no doubt regrets to this day.

In retrospect Kibaki had a lot of grand ideas for Kenya. But historians will record that virtually all of them had one thing in common they reeked of great naivety. I was at a meeting at Ufungamano house, Nairobi where Kibaki was addressing Christian professionals and he emphasized that the tax which was then being collected by the Moi government was more than enough to run government and take a lot of services to the people. In the same meeting Kibaki took time to emphasize to his audience that he lived in Muthaiga had lived there for a very long time. In all my years of following politics in Kenya I have never heard another leader emphasize their residence. You be the judge of what that was all about but in my book there is an overwhelming stench of pride and arrogance here.

It is one thing to seek to be a reformist but one needs to understand the system that they are seeking to change much more deeply than Mwai Kibaki understood the Moi prtesidency.

How could somebody be in government so long and even be Vice president for a decade and still be so naïve? I will leave that one for historians to answer but my opinion supported by a lot of evidence is that the problem is the man’s arrogance. The truth of the matter is that the more arrogant you are in this life the less you end up learning. And it does not matter if the knowledge is staring you right in the face.

Granted, people all over the world approach high office with many grand expectations that are usually quickly deflected by the cold reality on the ground. In other words the job always looks much easier than it really is. Still having said this it is obvious that Mwai Kibaki was an extreme case of a very naïve person who had to make way too many adjustments even to be able to have a stable administration.

This is the reason why very early during his administration a sizeable number of Kenyans were predicting that he would not make it to 2007 when the next general elections were due.

Even more dangerous was the man’s way of dealing with any crisis. I have a theory that a contributing factor to this attitude had to do with his first marriage. On countless occasions Kibaki got locked out of his own house at night by his wife Lucy, leaving his bodyguards and minders in an awkward position. To deal with his wife Kibaki’s approach was always to ignore the crisis at hand and pretend that all was well. He would sleep in the uncomfortable environment of the car and would then behave like nothing had happened the next morning.

This attitude clearly seeped into the former Makerere don’s personal management style when it came to making decisions and here there are many instances that clearly illustrate this.

Indeed this attitude proved to be fatal.

I will give just two examples.

Had Kibaki dealt with the crisis over the memorandum of understanding and Raila Odinga more swiftly and decisively he would have quickly gained an upper hand over Raila Odinga. Instead he let the problem simmer until it became a major crisis that almost brought his administration to its’ knees. In any case it led to unnecessarily high tension in the country that climaxed with the referendum and prepared the ground for the post election violence of early 2008.

An even deadlier case was the beginning of the post election violence when intelligence reports came in clearly showing that the country was burning and yet there was unprecedented indecisiveness on the part of the executive. This wavering cost many Kenyan lives that would have otherwise been saved. To make matters worse the whole situation had been provoked by Mwai Kibaki himself in the first place. He did this by leaving it very late in the election to rig the presidential vote (more dithering on his part) and this made his actions rather obvious to the majority of Kenyans. This is something that the ICC and Moreno Ocampo should look into more deeply as they seek to punish the main perpetrators of Kenya’s worst election-related violence ever. They should also look deeply into the Raila Odinga brand of politics shortly after the 2003 elections.

Any manager will tell you that there are some decisions that if left too late weaken the impact of any move one may end up making later. The most recent example is the crisis at the Ministry of education where billions in donor funds has been embezzled. Even if Kibaki ends up firing the Education minister and the PS later, the impact will be almost zero now after all the pressure that has been brought to bear on his government.

Good managers will also tell you that on many occasions swift decisive action even when the wrong decision has been taken is much better than indecision.

This is the crux of the problem with President Mwai Kibaki’s leadership. And when you combine this with the unfolding political reality where there is a fierce struggle over the Kibaki succession, it is a recipe for disaster and unprecedented disaster for Kenya.

Get a Free copy of almost the entire book Dark Secrets of the Kenyan Presidency

(To be continued)

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12


Anonymous said...

so where's the dark secrect? The MoU? Your very likely concocted tale about Roocy locking Kibaki out of his house? Alleged rigging? I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Analytically well structured and informative. I, however, found the following "perspective on Kibaki's political personality" a little off base" :

"They should also look deeply into the Raila Odinga brand of politics shortly after the 2003 elections".

I am hoping your sequel to this article will be titled, "Where Ocampo Should Look for Villain Political Actors'/Actions' Influence on PEV"

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris!
Can you elaborate a little bit about the brand of politics Raila Odinga introduced in 2003.
Was it politics of hatred?

Me thinks that alot of people already saw very early what kind of politics Raila Odinga was using, one wonder what created the fallout between the late Achieng Oneko and Raila Odinga.

Read in the newspaper that Moi made blunders of the decade but with evidence in hand, i think it was his best option/decision given the influence he still has over Kibaki, so the proud Makerere lecturer is taking advice from Moi even today. One should ask Mariane briner what influence Moi and Biwott has/had in Kibaki government, @ Chris you have clearly written about it in earlier posts.
Moi is complacent or can you ever be complacent when it comes to Siasa?

Anonymous said...

Politcal murders under Moi included Robert Ouko, plus say 5 to 20 other lower profile personalities. Political Murders under Kibaki total over 1000 kenyans. Even if you divide those PEV deaths equally between Kibaki and Raila that still gives Kibaki over 500 deaths, well ahead of Moi.

Anonymous said...

moi had no part in ouko's murder; h Oyugi was seen in the area before Ouko's death; according to moi's biograpghy Oyugi's 3rd wife was Ouko's girlfriend....

Anonymous said...

not very good to sleep in the car; with the ministerial salary he ought to have afforded another secret bungalow for getaways; could he not have gone to Mary Wambui's home?

Anonymous said...

why did noi wait for so long to groom his successor uhuru???

Anonymous said...

there was peace under moi; and that was a good thing; peace begets peace; few other countries with that much tribal/race/religious diversity had such peace ...

Anonymous said...

No comment as usual. My previous comments [in private] will do.

Anonymous said...

Ocampo has no mandate to investigate acts committed by either Raila or Kibs since theirs was politics. If they helped organize the killings then he will take stern action.

Kim said...

Chris expect all kinds of insults from now on but give us more we like reading them.

Chris, there is this bill about biosaftey bill which intends to introduce GM crops in Kenya. The truth of the matter is that Kenyans will be used as guinea pigs to test seeds whose effects have not been identified by Monsanto company. The company will drive our local agricultural seed companies like seedco out of the market and kill our research institute like Kari. Chris. kindly carry out an indepth analysis of this coz we dont have investigative journalist locally, all we have are lazy armatures who sing and dance to whims of politics. These seeds are insecticide treated such that they repel insects by producing their own toxins and yet Kenyans are supposed to feed on them. These seeds have also been branded as seeds of suicide in India and the main intention is to control global seeds then food and finally population through hunger and mass starvation. Amidst all this the Kibaki administration gives a nod to this kind of global fraud on agriculture. Its a matter of time now before the effects of Monsanto company and the GMO seeds unravel.

Anonymous said...

Rubbish - so what's wrong with him stating the fact that he has lived in Muthaiga for a long time? Cant we all aim to live in Muthaiga and beyond? Kibaki does not have time for small dreams and petty fights. If that makes him unfit or office, then maybe you cheap kenyans should be left to rot in slums

Mwarang'ethe said...

If that makes him unfit or office, then maybe you cheap kenyans should be left to rot in slums

12/28/09 12:16 AM


On the contrary, Kenyans do not live in slums because they are cheap.

Likewise, Kibaki and other petty Kenyan/Africa elites do not live in Muthaiga etc because they are more hard working than those in slums.

The elites in Kenya/Africa (majority of them), are nothing but, a rentier class.

For those who know, this rentier class is well served by neo - classical economics paradigm which has been propagated to protect this class while impoverising those Kenyans you call cheap.

So, usituletee.

mzee said...

well put mwarang'ethe,such people always think poverty is a nuisance...yet he could be one of those benefiting as a student in a US or UK university feeding off funds his dad stole from collapsed state corporations and factories

Anonymous said...

yes as kenyatta told one of his ministers...every one in cabinent is rich..why aren't you.....

Anonymous said...

@Kibaki Haters

Government spending in Kenya is only a quarter of GDP. There's no shortage of Kenyans who are wealthy despite having no government or corporate connections, e.g. River Rd traders.

So why don't you go make yourself some money instead of bitching endlessly about Kibaki? Even if your favourite presidential candidate became president, you'll still be poor and bitching endlessly about the new president. Ama have the wrong genes?

Society needs to tolerate inequality. Not everyone can be wealthy like Pamela Jelimo or Samuel Wanjiru.

M-Pesa said...

The impression and expression of most Kenyans is that they have a moribund president and an ineffective prime minister," NCCK leaders said in the statement ...

Can someone please elaborate why majority of Kikuyus and leaders like Matiba and Leaky have always referred to Kibaki as General Kiguoya/coward even long before he was president?

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