TRANSITION

Refuse to be emotionally drawn to politics this early

We have always had tension and confusion during times of transition.

In Summary
  • Our first transition politics experience was when the British colonial settlers did everything they could to delay Independence.
  • Jomo Kenyatta continued with this tradition and amended the Lancaster House Constitution, setting off a process that made Kenya a one-party state.
Outgoing President Mwai Kibaki hands over instruments of Power and Authority (the Commander-in-chief's ceremonial sword and the constitution) to President Uhuru Kenyatta during the State Installation at Kasarani Sports Complex, Nairobi.
Outgoing President Mwai Kibaki hands over instruments of Power and Authority (the Commander-in-chief's ceremonial sword and the constitution) to President Uhuru Kenyatta during the State Installation at Kasarani Sports Complex, Nairobi.
Image: FILE

We are still a long way from the next election and yet the political temperature is already rising. This has become part of our transition politics. I speak with authority having watched transitions from very close quarters since the colonial times as my father was a long-serving politician. It is bad transition politics that delayed Independence. We get through the confusion and chaos because God loves us. There is hope.

Our first transition politics experience was when the British colonial settlers did everything they could to delay Independence. They wanted to leave their favourite Africans in positions of responsibility. The State of Mau Mau Emergency delayed Independence.

It is no wonder then that agitation of the newly elected African members of Legislative Council led to several changes to the Constitution leading up to Independence. What we see today as BBI (constitutional changes) is a process that started back then and has become part of our tradition.

 

Jomo Kenyatta continued with this tradition and amended the Lancaster House Constitution, setting off a process that made Kenya a one-party state. Moi’s administration continued to make amendments in his favour until Kenyans agitated for change. His final act on constitutional amendment was when he set the motion rolling for the Bomas Constitutional Conference Process, which the Kibaki administration completed.

In between Kibaki had to deal with a lost referendum and creation of a government of national unity following the 2007-8 post-election violence. Demand for changes to our Constitution, as can be seen, has become part of our transition politics. Why should we be surprised that BBI is following that tradition?

Fights have become another unfortunate tradition. As a result people have died, been assassinated, imprisoned, detained, and lost businesses and family land. We have always tried to “solve” our never-ending problems through Lancaster House; Kanu Constitutional Review; Kofi Annan-led negotiations and several taskforces and commissions of enquiries.

Establishing many new political parties just before a transition is another favoured tradition. These are meant to help tribal kingpins in negotiations with their counterparts for the so-called “benefit of my tribe”. Money plays a key role in winning elections at all levels. This contributes hugely to corruption as we have come to believe that we need tonnes of money to win.

“The Handshake” after the 2017 election mess was another such move. Will this be the last such action or are we going to demand more changes next time as part of our now well-established tradition?

Establishing many new political parties just before a transition is another favoured tradition. These are meant to help tribal kingpins in negotiations with their counterparts for the so-called “benefit of my tribe”. Money plays a key role in winning elections at all levels. This contributes hugely to corruption as we have come to believe that we need tonnes of money to win.

Politicians will then run to support those that they think have a lot of money and who are willing to splash it around. We saw this before Independence, when the White settlers influenced politicians using money and split them into Kanu and Kadu, with negative outcome. Why then should we be surprised to see many new parties, and the wrangling destroying Jubilee Party?

Retaining the Provincial Administration in the current Constitution was not easy but it was finally agreed to retain it in a restructured form. Some of the politician delegates at Bomas had suffered under it over the years and wanted it killed altogether. This, together with IEBC and its predecessors, the security and intelligence agencies, have always been disliked by those in Opposition. We see the same reactions today.

 

What we are going through is not new. We have had tension and confusion during times of transition. Perceived enemies have been removed from senior positions; sections of the Constitution have been hurriedly changed; some people have been jailed or detained; some died mysteriously; while others resigned.

Meanwhile, Parliament and the Judiciary become a rubber stamp for the Executive. Kingpins and their tribal parties come and go. Money would suddenly be “poured” everywhere in large quantities. We even took each other to the ICC and then became friends later.

We, the political elite, raise political temperature leaving our supporters anxious and confused by our actions, which have nothing to do with servant leadership. Our economy suffers as a result. For how long will we mistreat Kenyans? My advice to Kenyans is to just watch politicians and refuse to get emotionally involved at this early stage. If you get too involved this early, there is a possibility that you will regret it later.