USED AND DISCARDED

Sonko, you were duped, the palace coup is complete

In the real world, the political landscape is organised in a nested circle called the selectorate

In Summary

• Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has told all and sundry that he was hoodwinked to sign the transfer of functions deed, and admitted he did not read the contents of the document.

• For that, he has sought forgiveness from his electorate and is now pursuing legal measures to reinstate all powers back to the county.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka look on as Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko sign the Deed of Transfer at State House, Nairobi on February 25, 2020.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka look on as Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko sign the Deed of Transfer at State House, Nairobi on February 25, 2020.
Image: PSCU

“Your absolute, unquestioning loyalty. Do not misunderstand what I mean by loyalty.”

This was the one demand that was required of Peter Russo by Francis Underwood. Earlier on, Peter had been arrested for a DUI and soliciting a prostitute.

Frank took care of both charges by bribing the chief of police. From then on, Peter became beholden to Francis. Peter plays the role of Pennsylvania Congressman; and Frank the House Majority Whip, and later America’s president respectively, in the television series, House of Cards.

 

As loyalty repayment to Francis, Peter’s first test came when he was forced to betray his constituents after failing to testify against the closure of a shipyard, which resulted in the job loss of 12,000 employees who had voted for him en masse.

Later on, despite being a less than ideal gubernatorial candidate, Peter was tapped by Frank to run for governor because he knew all the sins in his books and his weakness for alcohol and drugs.

Frank selected Peter because he wanted a marionette in the game. His ultimate goal was to get the job of  a Vice President, who was also from Pennsylvania. Frank’s bigger plan was to prop up Peter for the governor position, then scheme a way to take him down.

The VP would then be compelled to quit and vie for the governor position to save his home state from being won by a Republican. That would leave the VP slot open for Frank and then the chance to run for President. And he executed this to the end just as he had planned it.

On more than one occasion, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, like Peter Russo, has been characterised as less than ideal and unfit for the gubernatorial position. His management style has come into question; his decisions have been queried and his motives impugned.

Unsurprisingly, it all came to a head with threats of his impeachment. Shortly afterwards, Nairobi MCAs were summoned to State House and after deliberations with President Uhuru Kenyatta, the determination to impeach him was dropped. Soon after, Sonko handed over critical county functions to the national government through a Deed of Transfer, in the guise of better service delivery to Nairobians. It was widely hypothesised that this was a quid pro quo.

But in recent revelations, Sonko has told all and sundry that he was hoodwinked. He has admitted that he did not read the contents of the transfer deed. And for that, he has sought forgiveness from his electorate and is now pursuing legal measures to reinstate all powers back to the county government.

 
 

If you think Sonko owes you an apology or an explanation on why he did not consult you before signing the Deed of Transfer simply because you voted for him, it says more about you than it says about him. Let me tell you why. But first a few questions.

Do you ever see problems in Kenya and have an idea of how to fix them? And have you ever wished that you had the power to fix them? Have you also ever wondered why political rulers do not see things as clearly as you do? Instead, they act in seemingly selfish, destructive and shortsighted ways. Have you ever wondered if they are just plain stupid, or is something else going on?

Well, you are not alone.

Education misinforms us that democracy is a rule of the people for the people by the people. They call it the majority rule. This is a classic hoax.

But Bruce Bueno and Alastair Smith re-educate us that in the real world, the political landscape is organised in a nested circle called the selectorate. Every leader’s power and longevity in office are dependent on the balance of power among three key groups of selectorates.

The outer circle is called the nominal selectorate. This includes everyone in the nation who has a legal right to elect their political leader and is eligible to vote. They are also called the interchangeables because they can be swayed to vote for the most persuasive side. The interchangeables are made to feel very important in political rallies. Sadly, this is a lie. All they have is a tiny toehold in the nation’s political course.

The middle circle is called the real selectorate. This is the group of people that actually selects the leader. They are also known as the influentials. For example in China, the president is selected by the voting members of the Communist Party. Likewise, in Saudi Arabia, the prince succeeding to the throne is selected by the ruling royal family, also known as House of Saud.

The inner circle is called the winning coalition. This is the most important group that ultimately decides who rules the country. The decisions are made in boardrooms. They are a subset of the influentials and are also known as the essentials. They have no permanent loyalty to any political faction.

Their support is imperative if a leader is to acquire, and more importantly, survive in any political office. Survival is contingent upon continuous doling out of private goods to them, with little concern about providing public goods to the interchangeables. Their support translates into an assured victory because they give the required edge of one candidate over another.

They have the power to install and depose those in office and direct policy. And the scariest part is that they, the office aspirants and the officeholders, all know it. Often times, the essentials are business oligarchs and security forces.

Do you then continue to wonder the unequivocal audacity with which it has been affirmed that ODM leader Raila Odinga will be in government before the end of this year? Or the raw brazen takeover of the Nairobi county? Or the orchestrated scheme to portray the Deputy President as being sidelined in the presidency?

In the series House of Cards, the selection of Peter Russo as a gubernatorial candidate was a means to an end by one key essential member of the innermost selectorate. He was later deposed when his usefulness was over. Begs the question, is Sonko’s utility over? Unlike Peter Russo, did he misunderstand the meaning of absolute, unquestioning loyalty? Did he arrogate to himself the hallowed position of an essential without requisite approbation? You be the judge.

For a long time, we have been deluded to think that there is a world of difference between dictators and democratically elected leaders. However, this is simply a convenient fiction. The difference is the same in their acquisition of political power.

I submit that the next time before you spew unpalatable epithets on behalf of your ‘mtu wetu’, remember that you have been given the illusion of choice to dupe you that you are free to choose. But all you are is an ignoramus interchangeable because alliances last as long as is expedient. And the essentials know it.

Finally, my unsolicited advice is to Sonko. If someone takes your first offer, it is because you either asked for too little, or you offered too much. Tafakari.

If your vote could make a difference, they would make it illegal for you to vote – Mark Twain