In the days following the elections of 2007, few thought we could avoid a full-blown civil war, but we did and thank God for that.
The country breathed a collective sigh of relief when now President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga signed the National Accord and Reconciliation Act (NARA) on February 8, 2008.
Following this commitment to paper of the coalition government, we eagerly anticipated and looked forward to the principals President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, working together to effect ideals envisioned in the coalition agreement itself.
Now that the Court of Appeals has upheld the March 2013 election date and as the coalition government is now fast approaching its extinction by way of operation of law upon holding of the next general elections, it’s a good time to take stock of what the coalition has or has not accomplished.
One significant accomplishment the coalition shall be forever associated with is passage and promulgation of a new constitution for Kenya back in 2010.
Other than passage and promulgation of the new constitution, one would have to seek the aid of a magnifying glass to find what else the coalition government has accomplished that can be characterized as significant.
A preamble to any law or agreement describes its purpose, aims or justification so we can use the preamble to measure whether the law or agreement has lived up-to its intended purpose or justification.
By this measure, the coalition government has fallen short and as will be noted below, there is only one thing left for the coalition government so as not to be dismissed as not having been worth even the ink and paper upon which it was brought to life.
The preamble to NARA states that the “crisis triggered by the 2007 disputed presidential elections has brought to the surface deep-seated and long-standing divisions within Kenyan society” and adds that “if left unaddressed, these divisions threaten the very existence of Kenya as a unified country.”
The deep-seated and long-standing divisions within the Kenyan society remain intact and one can persuasively argue that this has, in fact, gotten worse.
To be sure, the constitution forces the hand of those who believe in tribalism and regionalism by its high threshold for qualification for one to be sworn as president, namely, garnering 50%+1 of the vote in addition to being the victor in a majority of the 47 counties, among other requirements.
Because of this requirement, we have seen breathless efforts by individuals to try and go around this requirement by grouping themselves into tribal alliances, which is, to say the least, tragic for this is precisely the kind of mindset we must get away from if we were to progress as a nation.
Why can’t it be that individuals seeking the presidency are judged and voted for or against only by the content of their character and leadership ability, not what tribe or ethnic group they belong?
Do we really need this tribal mindset of doing things almost half a century since the scoundrels who introduced the vice along with the concept of divide and rule have long since left Kenya and the continent?
One would hope all of us can uniformly and loudly say no, but we know this not to be the case.
We have highly educated people, somewhat educated people and people not educated at all in terms of formal education and even intellectuals themselves who inexplicably are incapable of shaking themselves free of this vice one shudders just to think of the thought itself that this is even possible.
That’s not only pathetic, its a shame.
The preamble says there must be “real power-sharing” between the coalition partners in order “to move the country forward and begin the healing and reconciliation process.”
Neither has happened.
There has neither been real power sharing nor any efforts to start real healing and reconciliation in the country.
From the day the coalition was signed to this day, Kibaki and his side have hogged the most crucial positions of power it’s a miracle and testament to Raila’s abilities that he has managed to cling to some power with which he has done more than expected under the circumstances.
President Kibaki and Prime Minister committed in the preamble to NARA “to work together in good faith as true partners, through constant consultation and willingness to compromise.”
Although Raila has forced Kibaki to consult on a number of critical areas Kibaki did not want or was unwilling to consult, including the appointment of the Chief Justice and more recently constituting the Police Commission, Kibaki has by and large operated outside this requirement and expectation.
The preamble provides that NARA was to “enable Kenya’s political leaders to look beyond partisan considerations with a view to promoting the greater interests of the nation as a whole.”
Kenya has never been more partisan and even though NARA has to some degree promoted a few interests of the nation, these are token in view of what could be promoted given our potential.
Finally but not least, the preamble to NARA provides that the agreement “provides the means to implement a coherent and far-reaching reform agenda, to address the fundamental root causes of recurrent conflict, and to create a better, more secure, more prosperous Kenya for all.”
This has been an elusive dream that one can only hope will finally be realized with the formation of the next government.
True, we have made major strides in this direction primarily by starting to reform the judiciary and putting the executive on notice it’s not business as usual but there is business as usual still going on and if not checked by electing a reform minded president, would revert to the old in no time.
That’s why the next elections are crucial and shall determine what direction the country goes; back to the old, or to the future full of promise.
President Kibaki must ensure that we have an open and transparent elections and Raila as PM must keep a vigilant eye on his partner to make sure there is no mischief afoot or put into action.
Were both to do this, then the coalition would have accomplished one of its fundamental purposes and that’s ensuring our country is not lost.
The onus will be on the next government to carry forth and implement many of the NARA objectives and ideals the current government never reached.
In terms of a grade, a solid D+ for Kibaki, an A for effort for Raila and overall a C+ for the coalition much of that thanks to Raila’s efforts while Mzee is chilling and scheming his succession.