Has the man who DOES NOT care much about anything mellowed with age and the pressures of office?
Asked about his improved relationship with the PM, the president said that tension was to be expected at the beginning after such a closely fought election in 2007 but revealed that his relationship with both the PM and Vice President was excellent.
President Kibaki has never as president of Kenya given a press interview. That was until yesterday (Saturday) morning.
It is worth noting that many times when in situations where journalists managed to sneak in an opportunity to ask him direct questions the president would either ignore them or just mutter an answer to himself under his breath. The most famous of these infamous mutterings was in the run up to the controversial 2007 elections when a BBC journalist asked the president what his options were in the event that he lost the general elections to Raila Odinga. President Kibaki answered under his breath in Kiswahili wondering about the journalists’ intelligence and declaring the impossibility of such an eventuality.
It seems that one of the effects of the president’s ill health has been an uncustomary impatience and foul mood that seemed to emerge at the least excuse. And so handlers must have feared the risk of such an outburst in the middle of a press interview especially if a sensitive question was fielded. It is instructive that even during yesterday’s press interview the president’s handlers were still visibly nervous about how it would all turn out.
Interesting facts about the No campaign team
1. Has a much larger number of former MPs than the Yes brigade. What does that tell you?
Answer: Ex MPs are usually cash-strapped meaning that the No camp has much more money being dished out.
2. Is led by two individuals who hold the record for making their first 100 million in the shortest time ever recorded in history. Even Bill Gates and the Google guys didn't make their first 100 million this fast. Namely William Ruto and Cyrus Jirongo via a "cash machine" called YK92
The Sunday Nation journalists who found themselves in this rather historic situation yesterday rose to the occasion magnificently and asked a wide range of questions (including some extremely sensitive ones). Indeed this blogger was amazed that glimpses of the old sharp witty pre-Machakos-junction-road-accident-in-2002-Kibaki seemed to show through. It would seem that the only reason the president’s handlers allowed the interview was because the President’s health seems to have improved dramatically in recent months and weeks. Still the president got impatient on the verge of being irritable on one or two occasions yesterday including the time when his handlers asked him to button up his jacket. He dismissed them and it seemed that he was getting angry but quickly recovered and said that the habit of buttoning up the jacket was a new fad that “watu wa zamani” had no time for.
Careful observers of the Kenyan president will remember the president’s contribution on the floor of the house during the debate to pass the bills that legalized the national accord and allowed for a coalition government with the two principals at the helm. Kibaki started embarrassingly repeating himself to the disbelief of those who have known his usually witty ways and remarkable speeches over the years.
Reading between the lines, it became very clear from the interview that President Kibaki is now sharply focusing on his legacy and wants to be on the “right side of history.” Amazingly the man who watched and did very little as the country sunk into the worst bloodshed in it’s history over an election that he had stolen has a chance for an amazing make-over that will be nothing short of miraculous. And it all hinges on the passing of the new constitution.
Admittedly the truth is that Kibaki has brought massive positive changes to Kenya. From the most ambitious infrastructural improvements in history as well as the introduction of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which despite misappropriation has had a major impact across the face of the nation. Then of course there is the much wider political space that has resulted from his tenure in office. Many Kenyans have forgotten what the economy was like before 2002 when we saw negative growth for a few consecutive years. Clearly the president understands the Kenyan economy well. There has been better revenue collection and the KRA has completely been transformed into one of the most efficient institutions on these shores and as the president pointed out in yesterday’s interview the growing economy has helped the taxman collect much more revenue without the government having to increase the tax burden on individual Kenyans.
Sadly all these achievements will go down the drain and will hardly be considered or remembered by Kenyans all because of the president’s inability to play politics, because he is after all a politician, is he not? Kibaki has behaved more like an arrogant monarch who has no time to explain things that should be obvious to the ignorant uneducated commoners.
Still Kenyans are a forgiving lot and if they managed to forgive the barbaric Jomo Kenyatta regime when the old man passed on it now looks like they will do the same when Kibaki exits from power and leaves the country with a brand new constitution that is bound to be the envy of the entire continent and beyond. It became crystal clear during the unique press interview that the president wants to be at the forefront of the historic event that will start to shape a new Kenya after August 4th.
Read the exclusive Sunday Nation Mwai Kibaki interview
Previous post by Chris that you may have missed: Mostly fat rich burping men telling hungry Kenyans that the draft constitution is BAD
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