In a few weeks from now (and not soon enough for some) President Mwai Kibaki will ride into the sunset. Actually the whole problem is that the president’s exit from State house will not be as simple as that this time round.
Most analysts and observers are certain that when Kenya’s third president leaves office he will suddenly find himself entangled in all kinds of legal problems including a summons from the International Criminal Courts (ICC) at the Hague.
But his possible legal problems aside, now is a good time to ask what kind of legacy the Othaya legislator will leave behind. How will he be remembered? How will he compare to his predecessor President Daniel arap Moi in the eyes of historians?
In politics perception is everything but my guess is that you read this blog for a little more than that so let’s start with the hard facts.
Under Mwai Kibaki Kenya has changed a great deal and a solid foundation has been laid for future rapid development. The CDF program for instance started under Kibaki’s presidency and despite numerous reports of looting and mismanagement of the fund the truth is that it has had a real impact on the lives of many Kenyans in many corners of the republic. The country is also better managed and the infrastructural achievements under Kibaki are nothing short of breathtaking the crown in the jewel being the recently completed Thika super highway.
Admittedly this president’s achievements have been overshadowed by his laid back management style that often left a dangerous leadership vacuum in a young nation that has been accustomed to seeking leadership and direction at every turn. Not to mention the kind of unprecedented nepotism that makes Moi look like a poor imitation. But most of all this is a president who will stand out in the minds of millions of Kenyans as the one under whose watch the country slipped into its’ darkest hour yet when in early 2008 chaos erupted after a presidential election whose real winner is still a deep mystery.
The bottom line is that Kibaki will be remembered not for his achievements but for what went wrong in the country during his tenure. Many will never forget that he went on national television to tell lies about his personal life and deny his second wife and family. Not exactly the kind of character that would inspire confidence let alone in the highest office in the land.
Supporters of the president will be quick to point to the fact that it was one Raila Odinga who messed up what would have been Kibaki’s peaceful and productive tenure by putting the country on a permanent election campaign mode shortly after the 2002 polls when Kibaki reneged on the MOU (memorandum of understanding) that his faction of the national Rainbow coalition had with Kibaki’s faction. Although there is plenty of truth in that allegation you can be sure that folks will hardly analyze the Kibaki presidency in those terms in the years to come. Rather what will be brought into sharp focus will be his failings as a leader and of that there is plenty. In fact the early Kibaki years were nothing but a collection of blunders. Still the biggest mistake this man made was to refuse to accept the people’s verdict during the 2007 general elections and his failure to protect the lives of innocent Kenyans after that when all hell broke loose.
And saddest of all most will want to downplay the fact that it was under President Kibaki that the country got a new constitution. Hardly surprising when the same President Kibaki has been at the forefront of undermining the very constitution he worked so hard to deliver to Kenyans.
At best the Kibaki presidency will be seen as one with many contradictions at worst it will be used as an example for many decades to come, of the disaster that can result from the poor management and decision-making ability of any leader or manager.