PRIORITIES

Forget Covid and natural disasters, only power matters

What worries is the irony of the regime’s divided attention during a national crisis.

In Summary
  • Against the background of this melange of misfortunes, there are factional ruling party ruckus.
  • The owners of Jubilee acrimony know 2022 regime change polls are due in 28 months. They are constrained for time.

Small wars don't go away when bigger ones ensue. There is the graduated ruling Jubilee party ruckus, which is playing alongside the big five. There is the devastating coronavirus infections. There are locusts, strange bees, floods and a landslide. Then there is runaway corruption.

Challenges come in droves this side of 2020, soon after optimists sang 'Happy New Year'. There is the raging pandemic. Local cases are rising against a dark, deathly cloud of a partial lockdown, a curfew, massive unemployment, job losses, salary cuts, and plummeting national tax revenue. Then there is the fragile healthcare system that won't cope with a full-blown Covid-19 explosion.

By Tuesday Kenya had reported 363 infections; 225 were active. There have been 14 deaths and 114 recoveries. But bad news could still be lurking behind a feeble testing plan that does not deliver the promised volumes.

 

About 15,000 Covid-19 tests have been done in a population of 47 million. The known is way below the unknown, which could explode to overwhelm the fragile healthcare. The prayer is that testing, contact tracing, quarantines, social distancing, travel restrictions, curfew, face masks and water-driven hygiene tame the virulent virus.

There are floods in western Kenya, with about 10,0000 families, 32,000 people displaced in Homa Bay and Kisumu counties. Nyando and Sondu Miriu rivers are wild, as they have been perennially. Lake Victoria is swelling, claiming huge chunks of land, and drowning beaches, homes, and farms.

Lakeshore communities in Kano, Karachuonyo, and Nyatike are fleeing their homes. Fish landing beaches in Takawiri, Remba, and Kiringiti islands have been swallowed.

There is also a murderous landslide in Elgeyo Marakwet, leaving deaths and destitution in its wake. Fifteen people have been reported dead. Twenty-nine are still missing. A community has been dispossessed during a pandemic.

The fight for control of Jubilee Party and the Deputy President's end tunnel vision would have been a headline replay of history were it not for the life and death issues of Covid-19.

There is a dusk to dawn curfew across the land. There is also social distancing, which displaced families are expected to observe in crowded temporary camps in schools and churches.

There are invasive strange bees in Baringo, creating a slithery carpet on roads. Locusts are breeding in preparation for another wave of assault on food security. The insects have had a free run for more than six months. They landed from Yemen, through Somalia, into Kenya, assaulting 17 counties.

Challenges, so to speak, don't come singly in the age of climate change.

 
 

Against the background of this melange of misfortunes, there are factional ruling party ruckus.

The owners of the Jubilee acrimony know 2022 regime change elections are due in 28 months. They, too, are constrained for time. But what worries is not the conflict: it's the irony of the divided attention of the Jubilee regime, during a national crisis.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is pulling one way, and Deputy President William Ruto is sulking, spitting, crying betrayal. He is spiting every government move that doesn't advance his illusion of power.

One faction is hellbent on forcing the other back to love lane. The other is saying this marriage isn't working. This discordant matrimony shouldn't bog Kenya down when there are more pressing businesses to save the country from a pandemic.

But there is still something hard to ignore about the party war within the bigger conflict of global lockdowns.

The fight for control of Jubilee Party and the Deputy President's end tunnel vision would have been a headline replay of history were it not for the life and death issues of Covid-19.

In 2011 Deputy President William Ruto saw some light at the end of the tunnel, but he did not consider how long the tunnel was. Or how dim or bright the light was. He plunged into the recesses, hoping to reach destination State House. He ignored the difference between reality and illusion. The illusion of grandeur often comes with hallucinations.

The journey to the top is not as short as crossing the road from the DP's Harambee Annex office to the President's Harambee House office, on Harambee Avenue.

Ruto crossed the road in 2013, when he acted as president for five days. Uhuru had then gone to The Hague to sort out his case at the International Criminal Court. The man loved the ambience. He wants more of it.

In the Jubilee mix - of diverted attention and blurred vision - there are mistakes of omission and commission. Some have been fatal, treacherous, and malicious. The kind of cocktail that cooks betrayal. This, too, is a developing story -  the first rough draft of history.