THE NAIROBI NOTEBOOK
Where is the Alliance?
BY Newton Kanhema
Published: 01-OCT-03

When the Kenyan opposition parties came together and formed an alliance called the National Alliance of Rainbow Coalition (Narc) to dislodge one of the most corrupt governments post colonialism, I sincerely thought that this model was the most ideal for Africans to replicate and remove undesirable governments.

Little did I know that the model had no plans to remain intact after the removal of the archaic government of Arap Moi. Tragically the alliance is unravelling to the disappointment of the Kenyan wananchi (the common public). Apart from suspicions, accusations and counter accusations the power struggle has now entered the dangerous zone of assassination.

A Nairobi University Professor Odhiambo Mbai was gunned down in mid-September for what is suspected to be part of the ongoing struggle for power within the ruling Narc government. Prof Mbai was a Luo and was an intellectual who was part of the legal team that advised the Raila Odinga's LDP which is part of the ruling coalition. The motive for the assassination has not been fully established and suspects are all over but none has so far been apprehended.

Following the death of vice-president Michael Wamalwa political tension has risen even higher as different factions within the alliance jostle to have their candidates appointed. All groups feel they deserve the number two position. In addition to all this, the constitutional review conference seems to be in favour of an executive Prime Minister who would be the center of power leaving the elected President a mere ceremonial head of state.

And that position is designed for Odinga. But Mwai Kibaki who has campaigned for the devolution of power for the past decade seem to have enjoyed the absolute power enjoyed by Moi for the past 24 years and he wants to keep it. The Kenyan opposition alliance was a

...to undo the tribal prejudices will take generations if not centuries.

result of lessons of the previous two presidential elections in which the total number of votes for the opposition amounted to more than 66 percent. In this case the Wananchi of Kenya pressurised their leaders to unite and remove the Kanu government.

But tribalism runs deep in this society and maintaining this alliance is proving impossible. The cracks in the alliance are along tribal lines and to undo the tribal prejudices will take generations if not centuries.

Solutions?

So, the Kenyan model seems appropriate and recommended for the dismissal of an undesirable government but it lacks solutions for healing of the original divisions of such opposition parties. The anti-corruption commitment that seemed to unite Kenyans behind the opposition is now diminishing as different factions are trading accusations of corrupt conduct of people as high as cabinet ministers. There are others who claim the present government is covering up for their kin. It is disappointing to see this less than a year after the celebration of a victory that engulfed all African democrats.

Writing in a local newspaper Daily Nation a political scientist, Mutahi Ngunyi wrote: "I want to put it to them (Narc government) that there are 'multiple' factions in this government. This is particularly true within the NAK faction of the Narc. I am persuaded that one of the factions is responsible for re- inventing and 'colonising' corruption.

"Unlike the case in the Kanu days where corruption was available to all, this has now become the preserve of a few. And the disturbing thing is that these 'sharks' are not apologetic about it. They are cutting deals in the open with the corruption 'gurus' of the Kanu regime.

"The long and short of these 'invisible' politicians is that they see themselves as having inherited former President Moi intact. As such, they believe their reign will last forever and they can engage in acts of political and economic crimes. In my view, they are mistaken."

Down in southern Africa in Zimbabwe another vice President Simon Muzenda died and this has opened interesting questions on the succession race. Muzenda was not tipped to succeed Mugabe but his replacement, if will there be one, he/she is tipped to be the next president of Zimbabwe.

There are speculations that Mugabe might decide not to appoint another deputy to avoid another Uhuru project disaster. Any appointment will expose Mugabe's favourite candidate. But also leaving the post open throws the succession race into cut-throat competition among tribal factions.



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