BROWN ENVELOP POLITICS

Why the Coast region does not need a new party

These people want to fool other Coastalians that once in power, they will share more of the spoils with them than ODM.

In Summary

• The culture of corruption in Kenya has been so perfected by its architects and practitioners that it has raised the cost of everything, including bribery.

•  We now have some politicians and other beneficiaries of the brown bag campaign making noise that Coast needs to unite and position itself better to eat better.

DP William Ruto chats with Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo and Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya in Mombasa county
DP William Ruto chats with Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo and Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya in Mombasa county
Image: DPPS

 It is not often one finds quoting retired President Daniel Moi apt and prophylactic against inevitable condemnation by those who shake with rage even with the mere mention of the name. He, however, did say a few things that are quite memorable and right on.

One of these is Moi’s postulation that he was not worried too much about the opposition because he could buy certain leaders’ support with just Sh100 and that’s all he needed to get the backing of their supporters as well.

Moi is reported to have said this during the height of multiparty politics of the 1990s.

Economists can figure what Sh100 in the 1990s is equivalent to in today’s value, but whatever that comes to, it won’t be what one can bribe even a tout to vote for him or her.

 
 

How could he or she, knowing people are going around with brown bags stuffed with tens of thousands of shillings to corruptly buy support with proceeds of graft?

The culture of corruption in Kenya has been so perfected by its architects and practitioners that it has raised the cost of everything, including bribery, not to say anything about the misery it continues to inflict upon the nation.

On the other hand, politics in Kenya nowadays is such that development, ideas and policies do not matter one whit. What matters is how quickly you can stuff brown envelopes and how widespread you can have them doled out to buy fake support.

The support is fake because it is not guaranteed to be there once the money dries up. This is nothing new: In the past, creative Kenyans even came up with a slogan describing the phenomena: kula kwa X, kura kwa Y (eat with X, vote for Y).

It is a very simple formula that makes perfect sense, except the reason the voter won’t vote for you is not because your opponent is better for development, ideas or policies, or in improving the constituent, but because the candidate they will vote for is a fellow tribesman or one supported widely in their tribe’s region.

Although this phenomenon is now well-known, shrewdly ambitious politicians have not stopped, and will not stop splashing and distributing ill-gotten money in the belief the phenomenon will be turned upside down and have an outcome that reflects this shameless vote-buying strategy in defiance of past norms and practices.

There may be some reason to believe this belief is not outlandish, especially given the success those who believe in it have had in Mt Kenya region where people’s mouths are still wide-open in disbelief wondering how can President Uhuru Kenyatta be so disrespected even at his own backyard?

 

The answer is a combination of the brown bag strategy along with its practitioners having outwitted their target while he was asleep.

 

Having made great inroads in Central, Coast has become the next ripe target for this frankly quite formidable and shrewd strategy, if allowed to continue.

We now have some politicians and other beneficiaries of the brown bag campaign making noise that Coast needs to unite and position itself better to eat better.

In other words, having been promised their own version of Canaan by the brown bag chief and his ambassadors, and having partaken in the sharing of same, these people want to fool other Coastalians that once in power, they will share more of the spoils with them than ODM.  

That’s just not going to happen; rather, what these cunning individuals have done, is rolled the dice and gambled on their benefactor becoming president and, therefore, positioning themselves better than they otherwise would be with ODM, a party with a boatload of others they can hardly compete within the sharing of the war spoils.

That’s what is going on but it’s unlikely to succeed as the brown bag campaign is likely to come to a screeching, permanent halt sooner than later.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator.


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