JUBILEE PURGE

Uhuru, please govern with the Constitution, not with a cattle prod

To those that support the political parties' purges, it is instructive to note that unity does not equate to sameness.

In Summary

• In recent weeks, we have seen a purge in Jubilee. This appears to be more of a choreographed script than a case of killing the chicken while the monkey watches.

• The reason that has been touted for the purge is cracking the whip to instil discipline to the seemingly indisciplined members, who have refused to kowtow to the party’s tune.

President Uhuru Kenyatta gives the fifth Presidential address on the coronavirus at State House, Nairobi, on April 25, 2020
President Uhuru Kenyatta gives the fifth Presidential address on the coronavirus at State House, Nairobi, on April 25, 2020
Image: PSCU

One day, a fisherman was on his boat heading home at dusk. Suddenly he saw another boat headed straight towards him.

He got upset and started to yell at the other boat. ‘Watch out! Turn!’ he yelled.

But the other boat kept coming straight at him. Eventually, the other boat crashed into his boat. Now the fisherman was really furious. He yelled even louder while hurling unpalatable insults. But to his surprise, there was no response from the other boat. He yelled some more, but still no response. Finally, when he had calmed down enough, he realized that there was no one in the other boat. He was bumped into by an empty boat. At this realization, he became even more upset because now he had nobody to blame.

Our lives are full of empty boats that are adrift. When they bump into us, we instinctively get the urge to find the guy in the other boat to blame him. Because rather than take self-responsibility of our shortcomings, we place the blame on others for the negative outcomes in our lives.

In recent weeks, we have seen a purge in Jubilee. I have argued before, that this appears to be more of a choreographed script than a case of killing the chicken while the monkey watches. However, I still maintain that I am willing to be proved wrong.

But the reason that has been touted for the purge that has seen a change in the Senate leadership, and now likely the ouster of Senate Deputy Speaker Kindiki Kithure is that the Jubilee Party leader, who doubles up as the President, is cracking the whip to instil discipline to the seemingly indisciplined members, who have refused to kowtow to the party’s tune. The ousted Jubilee members have been blamed for not supporting government business in the Senate.

This crusade to discipline errant party members is not a new phenomenon. In the recent past, we saw ODM trotting down the same path to expel Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, and her Msambweni counterpart Suleiman Dori, for what the party’s disciplinary committee termed as gross misconduct.

Party leader Raila Odinga emphasized that loyalty is paramount and critical. This was in response to the two MPs' support for the Deputy President’s presidential ambitions in 2022.

I submit, that the cardinal reason we are witnessing this kind of boorish behaviour from political party leaders is because of our dependence and faith on the fruits of obedience. For a long time, we have mistakenly believed that obedience is synonymous to self-discipline. However, obedience is simply other-discipline. It is the act of doing what others command you to do without hesitation. Obedience is not a virtue. It is a vice. Because to be obedient, is to outsource your thinking.

Obedience, which means other-discipline, is the type of regimen that horses and dogs learn from their trainers, slaves from their masters, and pious people from their religious leaders. It is a slave mentality that forces us to obey simply because there is an authority figure present, or because of the consequences of a good or bad incentive. This is the reason why dogs and horses expect treats when they obey their trainers. With this slave mentality our performance in work and life is undertaken primarily for the sake of someone else with a higher authority over us. It is essentially driven by fear. It is the equivalent of a cattle-prod.

Self-discipline on the other hand, means that the locus of control is inside the individual. Locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces beyond their influence, have control over the outcome of events in their lives. Individuals with a strong internal locus of control take self-responsibility seriously and believe that outcomes in their lives derive primarily from their own actions. They do not allow impulses, greed, or peer pressure to dictate their choices.

With self-discipline, the motivating factor for performance is not motivated by fear and the threat of external negative or positive reinforcement. Those that embrace this type of discipline are self-governed. They are no longer slaves, but radically free. They have themselves become the higher authority in control of their behaviour. They exercise second-order thinking.

Second-order thinking is a critical practice for making effective policy, business and personal decisions. Most of us do not apply second-order thinking because it is hard. It is uncertain. It goes against the grain.

To those that support the political parties' purges, it is instructive to note that unity does not equate to sameness. You can have unity around core values, such as integrity, respect, or efficiency, but still have the distinction of thought, of choice, and of approach. When we try to enforce sameness of thought, we end up with battles trying to make each group like the other group. It is tantamount to using a cattle prod.

A cattle prod is designed to assist the farmer to move the cattle in his required direction, whether the cattle like it or not. They are used for moving stubborn or aggressive cattle. Advanced cattle prods are electric which makes cattle move by subjecting them to relatively high-voltage, low-current electric shock. In 1917, an ad appeared in a magazine that stated ‘when Bossie (name of a cow) becomes unruly, it is an easy matter to hustle her along with this new electric shocking prod’.

Finally, my unsolicited advice to President Kenyatta is this; never blame your shadow for the shape of your body. Likewise, do not blame divergent views and preferences of your party members, as the obstacle to the slow pace or lack of delivery of government business. You have the instruments of power. Use them constitutionally, not as a cattle prod.

If one treats men like cattle, one cannot squeeze out of them more than cattle-like performances – Ludwig von Mises