Factors That Will Shape Politics In 2012
2011 comes to an end in just a few hours. Time to bade bye to the old year and welcome a brand new one full of hope, inspirations and great aspirations for a better country and better selves. Our expectations for the New Year— with all its unadulterated promises and hopes— will have to be tempered with experiences and tribulations of the year gone by.
2011 is a year that has had its best and worst moments. 2011 is a year in which Kenya made great strides in the realm of democratic reforms. It is also the year when, many a times, the country yearned for true and inspired leadership at critical moments and found none. This was the year when the country continued to drift rudderless despite having a plethora of pseudo-leaders; the President, Vice-President and a Prime Minister to boot.
But on the other hand, perhaps the lack of leadership may also have been a blessing in disguise for the country. Why do I say so, you ask? Well, history shows that the positive flipside of rudderless leadership at the Executive is that it often inspires (incites is more like it) growth of leadership in competing parallel political institutions.
The more the Executive arm of the government emasculated itself by failing to take initiative even at most critical times, the faster the competing political institutions have moved to occupy the vacuum. The judiciary, the civil society, state-appointed commissions, various non-state actors, and to a lesser extent the National Assembly have all moved in to take up that vacuum, staking larger and larger claims to power.
As metaphysical philosopher Baruch Spinoza observed way back in 1670 AD, nature abhors a vacuum and so does politics. Kibaki’s leadership style has done more to emasculate the Executive than would have done a hundred constitutional amendment bills or a thousand civil society groups.
But nevertheless, left unchecked, wanton emasculation of the Executive comes with its own dangers, not least of all, making us a toying at the precipice of anarchy. The political principle of Primus inter pares (first among equals) presupposes that the Executive though equal to other arms of the government, is first among the equals.
The underlying concept behind this principle is to ensure that amidst all the clamour that comes with democracy, there will always be someone at the top of the pile to act as the honest arbiter. That arbiter has been missing in action for the better part of President Kibaki’s reign. And where he has attempted to make his presence felt, scarecrow noises from outside frightened him off and he retreated back to his cocoon.
So, amidst the fast diminishing (or is it disintegrating?) executive, the growing emergent alternative centres of power and a country hurtling towards the possibility of anarchic democracy, how is the political landscape likely to be in the coming year?
Here are a few predictions on the issues and factors that are most likely to shape the direction of things to come in 2012.
I foresee that courts will continue to play a larger-than-life role in the lives of Kenyans in 2012 as the standing of other arms of the government; the Legislature and the Executive continue to diminish in proportional dimensions.
In 2012, I predict that more and more Kenyans will turn to courts for leadership, legal interpretations while others will go to court with test-balloon cases.
I predict that one of the cases that will galvanise the attention of the entire country and infuriate sensibilities—on both sides of the aisle— will be a test balloon case in which a GLBT group (for the uninitiated in civil society-speak that stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) will seek to have the Supreme Court declare section 45(2) of the constitution inconsistent with the Bill of Rights in regard to same-sex marriages. Section 45 (2) states “Every adult has a right to marry a person of the opposite sex, based on the free consent of the parties.”
I foresee that the case challenging Section 45(2) shall generate so much heat (and no light) between civil society and religious groups in what will come to be known as “the battle of rights and morals”.
I forecast that the case shall become the yardstick upon which Western donors will measure Kenya’s “commitment to reforms and fundamental rights”. However, I foresee a situation where an infuriated Kenyan leadership will finally find its voice again and tell off the west
Nevertheless, I forecast a 2012 where civil society and other non-state-actors will expand their territories in areas of politics hitherto inconceivable even in their wildest dreams. I foresee a situation where civil society, buoyed by this success, will demand a seat in Cabinet, a say in the Judiciary and the Speaker’s position in the National Assembly
And if you thought President Emilio Mwai Kibaki is a world-record-holder in the business of political fence sitting, well, its time to think again. I predict a 2012 where Mwai Kibaki will beat his own world-record in fence sitting by not only perching himself on every fence available, but also creatively inventing new fences to sit on.
Will the group of presidential aspirants aligned to PNU; Prof George Saitoti, Kalonzo Musyoka and Uhuru Kenyatta come up with a magical formula to nominate one of their own to run against Raila Odinga? I foresee a situation where, after months of nominations charade, the Big Three will finally come to the same conclusion, which many Kenyan voters had arrived at months earlier, that the presidential candidate nomination process was a total waste of time.
And will Raila Odinga go the full hog with Musalia Mudavadi as his running mate? I predict that at some point before the final whistle for 2012 presidential race, Raila Odinga will have a reawakening and change his mind about the choice of running mate. Raila will come up with a clever way of getting himself out of the Mudavadi Quagmire with as little political damage to himself as possible. So, dear readers, in a nutshell, these are some of the issues that I foresee shaping the politics of 2012.
Mwenda Njoka is the founder of Africa Centre for Investigative Journalism.