OPINION: Musalia Mudavadi: Jubilee Must Rise to the Occasion
The approach has been out of nascent experimentation than out of educated conviction. That maybe the reason why public perception is convinced that Jubilee governance is more about appearances than substance despite scoring in some aspects.
Incidentally, you cannot achieve much in the second half if the foundation hasn’t been laid in the first half of a term. That may be informing pubic scepticism that Jubilee hasn’t done much.
Nonetheless, the Jubilee government inherited sporadic insecurity situations and spotlights compounded by a decayed security infrastructure. In this context, it is alarming that insecurity in all its facets – inter-ethnic and border conflicts, banditry and terrorism – has escalated for the worse. This has been compounded by acceleration of terrorism that has morphed from a purely external to a malignant internal threat.
The reasons for increase of velocity in acts of insecurity are that while Jubilee was aware of the dysfunctional security system – stalled police reforms, corruption, inter-agency rivalry, low morale – there was unexplained hesitation and inertia to directly confront these issues.
Unfortunately, when attempts were made to intervene with corrective measures, it was half-hearted and disjointed reaction to public pressure rather than deliberate informed decisions to inspire reform. Conviction was lacking.
Implementing the spirit of devolution
The politics of sibling rivalry in decision making as bond to occur in coalitions over election spoils spilled over and has affected security management leading to lethargy.
On security, my promise to Kenyans in the Amani manifesto had been to keep politics out of security matters. The commitment was to secure the lives and property of Kenyans in a holistic manner. We promised that while we appreciate the place of statutory instruments in response to insecurity, we would address the fundamental causes and manifestations.
We devoted a whole chapter to social security – access to education, health, training, food security, employment – as the basis of security in Kenya. That is why we committed to have a ministry of national cohesion and social development.
On the software, promoting effective co-existence amongst communities by implementing the spirit and letter of devolution to inspire the spirit of belonging; enhancing capacity of security institutions, and complete police reforms and reform the security system architecture would have been the priorities.
In his context, I would have strictly implemented the County Policing Authority with enhanced powers for intelligence sharing. Indeed, Amani wanted to empower the Inspector General to undertake independent reviews of the ethics within the police service to deter corruption in the manner in which business outsource the audit function.
Jubilee has scored poorly on nation integration and cohesion. The Constitution recognises ethnic diversity and its nurturing as the roadmap to integration. Indeed, it provides the mechanisms for ethnic, gender and age inclusivity in governance. The constitution inadvertently confers legitimacy to tribe as an organising unit for our politics, economy and development.
I will keep reminding the President that public appointments are a resource to be shared. I do this as as a patriotic citizen and as is required of him in Article 130 that demands “the composition of the national executive SHALL reflect the regional and ethnic diversity of the people of Kenya”.
Sectarian interests and inclusiveness
The national executive is not just the cabinet; it is all that system and structures called “public service”. I keep saying despite the electoral outcomes, a winner-takes-it-all attitude is a luxury you cannot afford in the context of ethnic-laced politics in Kenya.
We are a nascent democracy and haven’t quite achieved the zenith of republicanism. Even in old democracies, sectarian interests are determinants of an inclusive government. Therefore power-sharing agreements between parties in young nations like Kenya must be tempered with concern for national interest in terms of inclusivity.
To, therefore, appear to reserve a certain cadre of government jobs for specific communities or regions is to stretch the concept of 'winner must have their way' too far given raw ethnic sensitivities that stalk Kenya.
A government cannot preserve its legitimacy for long if it is perceived to exclude on the basis of a national electoral mandate. Worse, the luxury will not be enjoyed for long when the mandate is razor thin and gained by numbers from a few regions. Jubilee has fallen into this self-inflicted trap.
However, it is not too late to regain composure and correct the negative public perception that Jubilee is exclusive. On this, I would balance the expectations of my victorious supporters with my responsibilities to all Kenyans’ right to participate in the governance of national resources. I have said before that I would have ensured proportional representation based on population quarters at all levels of the national executive.
I need not emphasise that corruption bestrides all facets of Kenyan life. A President’s job is to prevent the cancer from being the basis of managing public affairs. When the intent to corrupt becomes the basis of policy decisions, the road to a failed state is paved. Two years later, Jubilee must be supported for confronting this monster head-on. Infatuation with old corruption must be complemented by tackling new corruption.
Amending the devolution statutes
I therefore don’t agree with those whose pre-occupation is to engage the government in semantics over corruption as long as the rule of law prevails. Corruption undermines economic development, deters investment, undermines service delivery, exacerbates unemployment and condemns many into poverty. Indeed, our manifesto emphasises destruction of the corruption industry through robust “detection, search and seizure of the proceeds of crime”.
Devolution is dear to me as it is to all Kenyans. I am the architect of devolutions laws. Most were “negotiated settlement” between centralists and devolutionists, and therefore the laws do not capture wholesomely the spirit and letter of the Constitution. Unfortunately centralists still run national government.
And Jubilee hasn’t been quite convincing against public perception of lethargy on devolution because National government systems haven’t quite adjusted and embraced devolution. Checks and balances within counties and with national institutions such as Parliament and CRA are convoluted.
These are the reasons for the hiccups, contestations and protestations we are experiencing in implementation. My first two years would have been devoted to amending the devolution statutes to accord with the Constitution while ensuring all functions to counties are realistically costed and consumerate resources allocated. The national government shouldn’t be stingy with functions and resources.
Devolution isn’t a magic pill to cure meant all maladies in five years let alone two. It is a governance system to be nurtured. You don’t ever know where the shoe pinches until you wear it. My concern is the free-wheeling corruption that has engulfed county governments. Now that we have worn the devolution shoe and know where it pinches, we must have a national consensus to review of the whole devolution process.
And since devolution threads through the whole Constitution, it may mean a review of the Constitution itself. Consequently, my prayer is as the CIC gives its scorecard on devolution at the end of its tenure this August, emphasis will be on how we can re-frame devolution to actualise the promise of the Constitution.
The writer is the leader of the United Democratic Forum (UDF).
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