power-play in public appointments in kenya

It emerges that Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga wanted President Kibaki to appoint a foreigner to head the judiciary. This can only mean one of two things: either (i) Mr. Odinga wants a super clean judiciary that will interpret the law in a disinterested manner or (ii) he thinks that the Kibaki-PNU faction is so strong that they will be able to buy off any local judge appointed to head the judiciary.

Because Mr. Odinga or his allies could potentially find themselves facing the judiciary in the future, I don’t think it is the former concern that is motivating the Premier. It must be the case that he realizes he has no way of locally dealing with the Kibaki-PNU faction, except through name-and-shame games and other sanctions involving foreigners. To compensate for the fact that he cannot contain the Kibaki-PNU coalition politically, Mr. Odinga is hoping he can do so via independent institutions.

What does this mean for Kenyan democracy? It means that it is not yet Uhuru. As long as there is a faction in the country that can do whatever it wants under a “wapende wasipende” mentality Kenya will remain a democracy in name only. True democracy will only come once all factions involved realize that the country belongs to all Kenyans and that they cannot get away with subordinating the interests of regular Kenyans to those of a few ethnic chiefs.

The man to blame for all of this is Kalonzo Musyoka. Mr. Musyoka is bad for Kenyan democracy because he is the all important median veto player, but lacks principles. Because his support gives either side the needed majority he remains the biggest stumbling block to any compromise arrangements that might ensure that regular Kenyans truly benefit from the new constitutional dispensation. Kibaki does not need to negotiate with Odinga as long as he has Kalonzo on his side. But given Mr. Odinga’s political clout, good and lasting institutions will only emerge if Kibaki and Odinga arrive at a self-enforcing arrangement.

Mr. Musyoka initially campaigned against the new constitution. Mr. Musyoka has been at the forefront of efforts to protect perpetrators of the 2007-8 post-elections violence that killed over 1300 Kenyans. Mr. Musyoka continues to stand on the wrong side of Kenya’s reform agenda. Given the recent comments from Francis Atwoli, the trade union leader, it is encouraging that Kenyans are cognizant of these facts.

4 thoughts on “power-play in public appointments in kenya

  1. Amen. Amen.
    Kalonzo is the cause of the current crisis between the to principals. The guy has no principles .


  2. My Dear, things are not always as they seem. Raila is bringing a West African because he has big ties there. Obasanjo has married his sister. You see? please do your ground work very well. Parliament will be hot once this is discovered.


  3. Seriously, we kenyans have seen what this so called leaders have and are doing to our country. We need to smarten up come 2012, we dont need this kind of silly leeaders AKA Kalonzo, I agree he continues to be a major stumbling block in Kenyan politics and we seriously dont need this. Kenyans shouldnt be swayed with money but with proper leadership. Without taking any political sides we can see from which camp holds, proper leaders ODM they havent started throwing threats of abandoning the grand coalition, they have their best intrests at heart and dont think about the people who put them there. The common mwanainchi. KENYANS WE NEED LEADERS NOT THUGS like the KKK Alliance, there are youth out there who can be proper leaders not the likes of Sonko and Simo we need clean, transparent leaders.


  4. Diana , you have just killed it and put it here for everyone to bury it. UNPRINCIPLEDAN DISPRINCIPLED celenlbs are not the best replacement in the leadership positions-in the name of YOUTH INCORPORATION . Kenya is in a leadership crisis. The average Kenyan is left yearning for the days of Moi- guyz I miss the mzee. That aside, I will love to ask as i have always asked, is Kenya ready for female president?


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