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Chebukati, the Onus Is On You and IEBC To Prove You’re Not Compromised Already

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My Star oped this weekend:

For decades, the United States and Russia consistently tried to outdo each other in attempts to be the sole superpower.

But following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US emerged as the superpower, until the rise of China, and now we really can’t speak of the US as the unipolar superpower, especially in light of the election of Donald Trump as President.

The waning of US supremacy on the global stage is not by accident. Rather, it’s with the invincible, and, in some cases, overt, hand of the Kremlin, led by the ever-conniving President Vladmir Putin. So much so, it’s alleged, and now under investigation, that Russia influenced the outcome of the November 8 presidential election in the US.

While Russia was busy meddling in US elections, [if the allegations are true] then candidate Trump was busy egging them on, in what is now being investigated as illegal collusion that if proven, could lead to his impeachment and removal from power.

To be sure, the Russians tried but were unable to hack into the electoral system, even as they managed to hack other systems.

Notwithstanding this fact, candidate Trump, when he knew he was losing to the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton, started preparing his followers for his then seemingly eventual loss, by claiming the only way he would lose to her would have been because the system was rigged in her favour.

Fact is, it’s virtually impossible to rig US elections, especially at the presidential level, owing to a number of reasons beyond the scope of this column, suffice it to say key among them is the fact that the US system is decentralized besides being open and transparent. Can the same thing be said about our electoral system in Kenya? Of course not!

We have never had a single election since Independence in which the vote was not stolen, especially at the presidential level. The only exception, one could argue, would be the elections of 2002, where the opposition was united and determined to reject the Kanu regime of President Daniel Moi and his then project, Uhuru Kenyatta.

It was impossible for Moi not to have read the writing on the wall and done the right thing as he did by not even trying to rig. This notwithstanding the fact we have always had an institution charged with the responsibility of conducting free, fair, credible and transparent elections.

Unfortunately, each of these institutions was compromised, with the worst being the now-defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya, which was in charge of the 2007 General Election and led by Samuel Kivuitu, now deceased. This was a man who, prior to being appointed to head the ECK, had impeccable credentials, only to sully himself and nearly launch our country into a civil war because of his doing the bidding of those in power who wanted to remain at any cost.

When a new electoral agency, the IEBC was formed following promulgation of the 2010 Constitution in 2010 and Issack Hassan, a Kenyan-Somali, appointed as the chairman, many believed we had put the worst in electoral mischief behind us, and that he would be incorruptible, coming from a community thought to be neutral and not known to be corrupt.Hassan proved he was just as corrupt and inept as the chairmen who served before him.

We now have Wafula Chebukati as the new chairman of the IEBC. But the question is, Mister Chebukati, are you compromised as those before you were? If not, do you have what it takes to proudly stand on the side of the people of honour and integrity, or would the dangling of a few coins and promise of power have you ready to cast all aside for short-lived self-aggrandizement?

We’re watching, knowing fully this time around, only the will of the people will prevail and you’ll be wise not to even try to thwart it, notwithstanding what pressure is put on you and your commission.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2017 in Politics

 

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We Need A Break from Kikuyu Presidents

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My Star oped this weekend:

Forty-three men have served as President of the United States with the following ethnic origins: 27 English, two English/Scottish, two English/Welsh, four Scottish, one Scottish/Irish, two Irish, three Dutch, one German and one African. This is according to the Atlas Forum.

It took more than 219 years for the first President of African origin to be elected as US head of state. This is despite the country having men and women of African ancestry for years, who would and could have served ably 10 times better than the current President.

This is no longer the case after Barack Obama was elected in 2008, and served up until last year. Kenyans should and must learn from this backward refusal of Americans to accept a Black man or woman, for that matter, as capable of leading them.

The question to ask is: Is it fair or right for a country of more than 40 tribes to be led in all of its history by sons hailing from only two communities, which have exchanged the presidency only between them?

The answer is clearly a resounding No. Since Independence, this country has been led by the Kikuyu, who have dominated the presidency, and the Kalenjin, who got in-between on account of President Jomo Kenyatta naming Daniel Moi as Vice President.

No one expected Moi to last more than the constitutionally provided 90 days within which a new President was to be elected. But, thanks to Charles Njonjo and his team, Moi quickly figured how to entrench himself as President and the rest is history.

Mwai Kibaki, another Kikuyu, succeeded Moi in 2002. Moi himself had picked another Kikuyu, Uhuru Kenyatta, to succeed him.

Upon completion of his rigged second term in office in 2013, Kibaki, in a classic asante ya punda ni teke, made sure the man who made his presidency possible could not occupy State House, by unleashing the state machine to yet again rig the man out for the second time as was successfully done in 2013.

With the dominance of these two tribes in leadership, so has been the case in the allocation of resources across the country besides jobs, which clearly and indisputably favour the Kikuyu, followed closely by the Kalenjin.

This is neither right nor fair as other communities are left to scramble for crumbles, if any at all.

One of the reasons Raila has been mercilessly opposed in the Mount Kenya region is because there are many there who believe presidential leadership belongs there and nowhere else.

This is wrong for several reasons.

First, Kenya, as in many other countries, has never embraced dynastic rule, even though one can argue that the dominance by one community in presidential leadership is no different.

Voters must reject this notion of dynastic rule come August 8.

Second, underlying the thinking among those who hold the view presidential leadership belongs to the Mt Kenya community is this sense of misguided belief that one community from that area is particularly superior to all others, which is pure nonsense.

It’s actually this kind of thinking that has created hatred and animosity among tribes of all manner in many countries, most notably Rwanda, where the 1994 Genocide is attributed to this backward superiority based ethnic and tribal divide.

Third, even though the Constitution attempts to force this issue of not having one tribe win the presidency merely due to its numeric strength, those in power have and do find ways to manipulate the system to produce an outcome they desire but this time we, as Kenyans, must be prepared to say Never Again.

There’s nothing tribalistic, divisive or discriminatory in urging we get a break from yet another Kikuyu presidency: This is just a question of fairness and fatigue anyone objective would have to agree with.

It’s our hope and prayer this shall come to pass come August 8 and we live happily thereafter as a nation.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Politics

 

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Jubilee’s Acts of Desperation Must Be Rejected

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My Star column this weekend:

Just before the most bizarre elections in US history on November 8, Donald Trump prepared his mob of followers for the then impending loss, boldly claiming the only reason he would lose would be through rigging in favor of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

That, of course, was not true, besides the whining candidate ended up being elected as President, courtesy of the unique electoral system in the US that allows a candidate who did not win the popular vote to be sworn in as President if he wins the Electoral College vote.

Trump also won because many voters were exasperated with politics as usual and, therefore, wanted an outsider, inexperienced and tone-deaf as President. It was, and still is, an act of desperation. Americans are now living the very nightmare many were afraid of for electing Trump as President.

Voters acting in desperation to elect an unfit candidate is not the norm. Rather, it’s those seeking office, especially high office such as the presidency, who resort to acts of desperation to either gain or cling to power.

We’ve seen that unfold in Kenya many times, most notably in 2007, when elections were so flagrantly stolen, plunging our country into chaos and almost into a civil war.

When the opposition united and picked Raila Odinga as their flagbearer, you could almost touch the panic in Jubilee because the writing was on the wall that their days in power were numbered.

The fact that Jubilee has panicked is obvious: That they’re now headed into desperation is also obvious. Desperate people do desperate things.

Many examples of Jubilee’s acts of desperation abound but, for the sake of time, three stand out the most.

First, there was retaliation against Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, when Jubilee realised he could not be cajoled or threatened to abandon his criticism of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration. In their act of desperation, they brought the state machine down on Joho’s head. This backfired.

When the High Court recently ruled that presidential election results at the constituency level announced by returning officers should be considered final, the allegedly reconstituted IEBC appealed this well-reasoned, constitutional and common sense court ruling, arguing that the suspect commission must be the final decider on who won what and where; a scheme we know has failed in each of the past election cycles, most notably and egregiously in 2007.

This appeal is the second major act of desperation in recent times as there’s no doubt that the IEBC did not independently decide to appeal this decision but, rather, did so under direction from those who put them there.

The Court of Appeal cannot but affirm the High Court decision which, as noted above, is a well-reasoned, constitutional and commonsensical decision to preserve the integrity of the electoral process and, more importantly, shield the vote from the machinations of those ready, willing and able to thwart the will of the people at the National Tallying Centre if history teaches us anything.

The third most recent act of desperation by Jubilee is its laughable effort to try and prevent NASA from receiving campaign funds from foreign donors.

This is despite the law allowing any political party to do so within certain parameters, while Jubilee loots and allows unlimited inflow of cash from all manner of foreign sources for itself.

Again, when desperate, people do desperate things. These are just but three most recent major examples.

There’s no doubt there is more to come but as Kenyans, we must be vigilant in identifying and pointing them out. More importantly, we must be prepared to tell Jubilee there’s a limit, beyond which they cannot go even with their acts of desperation for the sake of peace.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Raila Will Not Be President for Luos or NASA Strongholds Only; He’ll Be President for All Kenyans

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My Star oped this weekend:

When Barack Obama beat all odds to become America’s first black President, all eyes were on him, not in just how he would perform, but how he’d tackle problems the Blacks have faced as a group for hundreds of years.

For their part, the Blacks — at least those most affected by these problems — expected Obama to find solutions overnight. That was a pipedream.

On the other hand, some saw the election of Obama as the messianic fulfillment of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

Non-progressives, meaning conservatives in White America, viewed the election of Obama as a passing cloud and the elected among them, especially those in Congress, swore to frustrate and obstruct Obama for the duration he’d be in power, which they did.

Racists, among them, mobilised to ensure Congress had the numbers to achieve this objective such that in the midterm elections of 2010, Obama suffered what he called a shellacking: The Democratic Party losing more than 60 House seats and a half-dozen Senate seats as well as Republican gains in state and local elective offices.

Despite this massive defeat at the polls in 2010, and continued united obstruction by Republicans, Obama went on to be reelected in 2012.

Obama has now exited the presidency after eight years in office with a record of accomplishment that arguably puts him at the top tier of the most successful US Presidents.

Did Obama, as first Black President, make a difference in Black America in his two terms in office?

The answer depends on who you ask. Average Black Americans will tell you he did if anything in breaking that ceiling telling their young the colour of one’s skin is no longer a barrier to achieving greatness in the US.

Black intellectuals such as Prof Cornell West see the Obama presidency as a failure not just for the Black community, but for America, they argue, Obama did not break from being beholden to Wall Street as all Presidents are in favour of Main Street.

There are parallels between Obama and NASA flagbearer, Raila Odinga.

Just as a presidential bid by a Black was resisted for hundreds of years until Obama came along, so too have Kenyans resisted the presidency of a Luo solely based on tribalism no different from the racists’ attitude in America. Like Obama in 2008, Raila is now poised to finally break this resistance to a Luo presidency, which has been cleverly exploited by those in power, and their henchmen, who stand to lose the most when Raila is sworn in as President.

Like Blacks in America, the Luo and others, who so fervently believe in Raila expect him to solve all their problems overnight once sworn in as the Fifth President.

Like Blacks in America, they, too, will be disappointed when Raila completes his term in office as president. For as Obama was not elected to become President for the Blacks only, this too will be the case with Raila. He will not become President of the Luos or NASA strongholds only.

This is the major and irreversible mistake Uhuru Kenyatta and his Number Two William Ruto made when they were sworn to lead the country, namely, assuming and acting as though they were elected to be President for their own tribesmen and strongholds, or, more accurately, to be President for a subset of their tribesmen and henchmen from their strongholds.

To allow these henchmen to use their presidency to loot and further suffocate all other Kenyans, who are barely trying to survive thanks to the historic looting, apathy for their suffering and incompetence of the Jubilee government.

Nobody is saying it’s going to be a walk, but all indications are Raila will be once again elected but this time be sworn in as our next President. When that happens, let everyone be on notice that he will be a President for all Kenyans, not for the Luos, or NASA strongholds.

This is just but one reason why a Raila presidency is most welcome and will be transformative.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

NASA Has Done Well, But Challenges Lie Ahead

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My Star oped last weekend:

When Illinois Senator Barack Obama gave his maiden speech at the Democratic Party Convention in 2004, many saw the emergence of a new star in American politics.

Few, however, believed he would rise so fast to hold the highest office in the land. And even fewer believed they’d see a black US President in their lifetime. Many are still in disbelief that Obama was elected President, not once, but twice.

Just as there were many who never believed a black man, let alone Obama, could be elected US President, so there are many who don’t want or believe a Luo and Raila Odinga in particular, will be elected President.

Those who believed that a black man could not become President in the US did so solely based on racism and nothing else. Dr Martin Lurther King’s message that judge a man by the content of their character and not the colour of his skin fell on deaf ears when it came to this lot.

Much as racism was the determining factor for those resisting the presidency of a black man, so too is tribalism and deep hate is a major factor in those who don’t want a Luo and Raila to become our President.

Those deeply entrenched in the corrupt system in Kenya, and who stand to lose the most were Raila to be elected the head of state, have successfully exploited this tribalism-based hatred of Raila to deny him the presidency twice.

It is said the third time is the charm and, going by what has happened thus far, this third time, indeed, would be the time Raila cannot be denied.

The key to this is simply a united opposition, woven together with its realisation that, together, victory is at hand but, divided, would be nothing but a guarantee that Jubilee will remain in power.

Neither they nor the country can afford that for if the opposition doesn’t unite and the result is another five years of the same dearth of progress and development thwarted by historic levels of corruption. Then, for sure, they shall be rendered irrelevant for the rest of their lives.

Put another way, the only way to remove Jubilee from power is a united opposition and that’s as true for August 8 as it would be for 2022 and infinitely until such a time the opposition is united as was the case in 2002.

Only a fool could wait that long when the smart thing to do is to remain united now and avoid the prolonged suffering of our people.

Once united and solidly behind one candidate — and, again, it goes without saying who that candidate should be — then what shall follow and needs to be done to remove Jubilee from power will be much easier.

That’s not to say there aren’t challenges that lie ahead: There are and key among them is the never ending quest for Jubilee to want to remain in power in total disregard of the people’s expression of their will, in other words, rigging and attempt to use the government machine to achieve their mischief.

That cannot be allowed to happen, and the only way to ensure that is a united opposition, which will thwart any plans to change the will and the decision of the people.

It is the prayer of those of us who love our country that going to this general election, we will have a united opposition that will remove Jubilee from power. This will pave the way for our country to finally reap the fruits of Independence that have eluded us ever since.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Politics

 

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NASA Principals Have Kenya’s Future In Their Hands

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In NASA Principals Have Future of Kenya In Their Hands, I make the case why:

When Hillary Clinton announced her second bid for the presidency in April 2015, she was immediately faced with hostile opposition from within the Democratic Party by a wing that to this day, has never really liked her for a number of reasons, among them her being wife of former President Bill Clinton.

Others didn’t want her to be the Democrats flagbearer, arguing she was not progressive enough, while others deemed her not qualified simply because she’s a woman.

To make sure Hillary did not see the inside of the White House, Republicans on their part embarked on a relentless campaign to discredit her as “untrustworthy” by cooking up and peddling various false claims against her, key among them being the bogus claims that she somehow was responsible for the deaths of Americans in Benghazi, Libya, when the American embassy was attacked by terrorists back in 2012.

Republicans, who controlled the House, brought their entire party machine to tear down Hillary, courtesy of the sham Benghazi Committee, in which one of their member would later admit in a classic Freudian slip that the committee was, indeed, “a sham committee setup to damage or destroy Hillary”.

When they were not busy with their onslaught on Hillary on this ground, the Republicans, joined by Hillary haters in the Democratic Party, used their loudmouths in both radio and television to drumbeat the notion that she was being anointed without opposition, which, in their logic, was not a good thing. So much that many Democrats demanded an alternative to oppose her and thus the emergence of Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders provided home to disgruntled and short-sighted Democrats, who to the end remained loyal to him, and refused to support Hillary even after she became the party nominee.

Whatever their reasons were, most of these Democrats now regret not having supported Hillary because the outcome was having a President Donald Trump — a clueless man who stands for nothing they believe in and is certainly worse than Hillary could ever have been.

We’re faced with the same situation in Kenya where opposition chief Raila Odinga, like Hillary, is being resisted from both within and without.

There are those in and outside the opposition who begrudge Raila simply for who he is — the son of Jaramogi Oginga — who in his own right went on to become the icon and doyen of opposition politics much like his father was.

Many would like Raila to exit the world of politics and probably from this world altogether, without the title of President.

Then there are those who, like Hillary haters, simply dislike Raila for no apparent reason other than simply believing the smears and lies peddled about him.

Jubilee, like TNA before it, has done a superb job in profiling Raila variously as a “dangerous” or threat to the Kikuyu community.

While Raila is obviously not dangerous by any measure, he’s certainly a threat to those who have looted or illegally gained from the public coffers, regardless of their community.

This is a good thing for Raila to be feared for that must not only be applauded, but all progressives and well-meaning Kenyans must rally behind. The choice here is either being behind him or the corrupt who have looted this country.

Which brings us to the NASA principals: To each one of you, you hold the future of Kenya in your hands for if you don’t do the wisest and only right thing and make Raila the joint opposition flagbearer and rally the nation to defeat Jubilee, you’ll forever carry the cross of being the worst among the political class.

Worse than the very worse you’re very well-placed to uproot from power and present an alternative vision and leadership for this country.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Politics

 

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Avoiding Pitfalls That Lie In Wait for NASA Flagbearer

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In Avoiding Pitfalls That Lie In Wait for NASA Flagbearer, I suggest what the NASA principals need to do to ensure smooth sailing to nominating one of them–and the obvious one and onward to ejecting Jubilee from power.

The oped in full:

When now US President Donald Trump descended on the escalator at his Trump Towers and declared Mexico was sending its drug dealers and rapists to America — as a way of reintroducing himself to the Americans and setting in motion wheels that would propel him to the presidency — most parts of the country went into shock they’ve quite never recovered from.

So much that his first 100 days in office have thus far proven right those who feared Trump was not ready and could not be ready for the big office.

What most people did not know is there was a strategy behind the madness that got Trump elected as President, and part of that was tapping into the anger voters had with the so-called “establishment,” meaning usual politicians doing the usual stuff to please their benefactors, normally special interest lobbyists.

In other words, Trump tapped into, and revved up the Republican base as well as others who shared in the anger, and didn’t care having a traditional politician holding office as President and had all these voters voting for him, a task made easier given it was toss-up as to who American loathed the most, him or his opponent in that election — Hillary Clinton.

The strategy paid off and we now have President Donald J Trump.

Odd as it is for a progressive to say this, but NASA should borrow a leaf from the Trump playbook, if not the whole book altogether, to send President Uhuru Kenyatta home on August 8.

This is because there are commonalities between what happened in the US and what needs to happen in Kenya.

Chief among them is widespread voter dissatisfaction and anger in some cases in the country, much as it was in the United States.

Indeed, the entire country to a man is fed-up with the Jubilee government and politicians who take them for granted. Always peddling lies during campaigns, only to disappear and loot, self-promote or otherwise, doing everything else that does not better the lives of these very voters they purport to represent.

That’s not to say there are not among the populace a bunch who would carry banners and go to the streets chanting slogans in favour of the same failed government and politicians. We have them and in millions, which is shame but not much can be done about that.

However, there’s much that can be done with the rest who are absolutely disenchanted or disgusted with one government after another doing little, if anything, to improve their lives. And these outnumber those, who for one reason or another but mostly blind following, wouldn’t mind the status quo.

As was the case with Trump, NASA principals need to channel this anger into a vehicle by which one of them can be elected and sworn in as President.

Let’s be realistic here: Everyone, including all the principals, knows there’s only one person who can defeat Uhuru and that person is Raila Odinga.

Question is, how does NASA anoint him without the other principals coming out of the process as lesser men?

The answer is simple: Let each principal organise community leaders and invite the de facto opposition leader to come to a small gathering with them — not a rally — in which they’re told the truth stated above and let them shower their blessings on the man and at the same time, give cover for their son to say, “This was not about me being the lesser man but it is what my people said.”

If each of the principals does this, NASA will have flagbearer seamlessly selected and shall go on to remove Uhuru and Jubilee from power. Kenya will become the peaceful and prosperous country it has always yearned to be, only to be thwarted by the forces that have the current government in place.

 

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Politics

 

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