UNIFYING?

Watch out for BBI missteps

Blunders could throw a spanner in the works.

In Summary
  • While the idea behind BBI, as most leaders articulated, was the unity of this country, the launch appeared to take off on the wrong foot.
  • So full of themselves are some of those who were part of the BBI task force that one of its joint secretaries dismissed Murkomen as inconsequential.

Many have applauded the BBI task force for coming up with a report that on the face of it, appears bipartisan and good for the country. During its launch at the Bomas of Kenya last Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta was upbeat and could not hide the joy of apparent achievement, while the former prime minister was on cloud nine.

Deputy President William Ruto was mostly pensive but as expected, adopted a reconciliatory tone when he rose to speak. But if sentiments expressed by Kipchumba Murkomen, the Leader of the Majority in the Senate, were anything to go by, the deputy president may just have been going through the motions and his heart may not have been at Bomas.

When given the opportunity to address the gathering at Bomas, Murkomen complained that the speakers at the launch had been selected with a bias towards ODM and Kieleweke, its ‘wing’ in Jubilee Party. Murkomen also took issue with the invitation of those who attended the function, saying the list followed the same pattern adopted in selecting speakers.

That ODM director of elections Junet Mohamed was the master of ceremonies was also telling, but most telling was that contrary to protocol, the deputy president was called to speak before the ODM leader, who also had the honour of inviting the President.

Some may argue that the BBI was conceived by Uhuru and Raila and thus the pecking order at the event. That however does not explain why James Orengo, the Leader of the Minority in the Senate, spoke after Murkomen. The jeering that greeted Murkomen when he raised these complaints was also telling; if his side was as well represented as what he was complaining about, then cheering might have checked jeering.

Those spearheading the process must, therefore, ensure that it takes all on board and it does not appear as if it is being forced down the throats of certain politicians and/or communities, ‘mpende, msipende [whether you like it or not]’ style.

While the idea behind BBI, as most leaders articulated, was the unity of this country, the launch appeared to take off on the wrong foot by one side of the divide being perceived to prove to the country and the world at large that this was their creation and the others were outsiders or people seeking to reap where they did not sow.

Such blunders, whether deliberate or unintentional, could throw a spanner in the works even before the people of Kenya have read and understood the document. Those who would perceive their leaders as being sidelined could distance themselves from the document. Such a wrong footing at the beginning of the process, may spell doom instead of the peace that many were talking about at the function.

Those spearheading the process must, therefore, ensure that it takes all on board and it does not appear as if it is being forced down the throats of certain politicians and/or communities, ‘mpende, msipende [whether you like it or not]’ style. Those who gave birth to the process and those who will be leading it must humble themselves to the extent of admitting to flaws where they exist and accepting correction.

So full of themselves are some of those who were part of the BBI task force that one of its joint secretaries dismissed Murkomen as inconsequential. When asked by a television host on Wednesday evening what he thought of the senator’s complaints during the launch, he intimated that Murkomen was not one of the people who mattered. Some humility is called for.

To paraphrase Moses Wetang’ula’s sentiments, we can only get everything else right if we get our politics right. And kudos to Musalia Mudavadi, the only speaker who spoke on behalf of ordinary Kenyans, something the BBI appeared to lay emphasis on. As he said, the political elite should stop speaking to the sharing of political seats and talk about the woes of poor Kenyans.

But the supposed champion of the Kenyan worker, one Francis Atwoli, would only propose the creation of more seats at the top at the expense of jobless Kenyans, some of whom are dying of hunger and disease.

While the debate for and against a referendum takes shape, I hope, like the deputy president put it, that the political class would not hijack the process by making it a vehicle for sharing positions of power.