By Dikembe Disembe
Reading through Eric Ng’eno’s article today, I kind of got the feeling that Jubilee is trying to discard a ‘civil service’ which it used for five long years when it was PNU to humiliate former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, but also as recently as the last elections to remain in power.
The challenge with this ‘service’ is that it was not ‘civil’; no wonder, when President Uhuru reappointed Joseph Kinyua, he made him head another outfit called the ‘public service’.
Ng’eno says, “There was a time many rejoiced in Mr Raila Odingaâ€™s travails in the Grand Coalition Government”. He continues, “Often, he had to go public about the frustrations his office endured at the hands of powerful civil servants. He could not push the most straightforward directive without encountering a flurry of coordinated soft resistance within the service”.
Unknown to many, current President Uhuru Kenyatta was powerful guy in the Kibaki kitchen cabinet. Uhuru became more prominent after he allegedly ‘retained’ the services of some Mt Kenya youth who faced ODM supporters (fellow Kenyans) and softened the resolve of Raila Odinga and his brigade to force regime change when it was apparent that Kibaki would be bundled out of power. This was after the disputed elections in 2008. He would be appointed Deputy Prime Minister.
But the civil service which Ng’eno, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speechwriter, is talking about was not a creation of the current president. In fact, what adds credence to this self evident truth is the mere fact that Uhuru is at the Hague! To date, it still beats logic how he, Uhuru, ended up being in the Waki Envelope, graduated from Waki20 to Ocampo 6, who would be arraigned at The Hague to finally exorcise the ghosts of that devilish past.
It can be argued that up to the time Uhuru tried to cobble up an agreement with Mudavadi, to relinguish his ambitions, this ‘civil service’ was still very much in power. It towered over State House decisions, and with an old, moribund President having no particular stake in the elections, it had propped up Mudavadi, funded him and literally warned him against campaigning in any part but Western Kenya.
See how Ng’eno captures it, “to strengthen its hand, the PNU wing of the coalition had surreptitiously enlisted the civil service as a third partner. This necessitated granting certain decisional and operational latitudes to senior civil servants to enable them effectively molest ODM”.
He adds, “by the conclusion of the ill-begotten coalition government, civil servants were selling hotels, embassies, and sponsoring presidential candidates with impunity. A parallel state had been instituted”.
This, coming from the man who has to scratch his ideas to cobble for Mr Kenyatta a politically acceptable speech, especially for a Jubilee audience no longer ‘thaaaat jubilant’, and a CORD audience still fixed around the Supreme Court and still very upset about some six people’s idiotic ruling, Ng’eno understands what Uhuru is going through.
In fact, when Ng’eno talks about a ‘parallel state’ within Uhuru government, he is being fair; for there are as many as (at least) ‘four states’ within this government.
But is the appreciation of Ng’eno of the challenges former Prime Minister Raila Odinga went through, and endured, which lifts my heart. I watched Odinga lost Rift Valley over Mau Forest conservation which the government, using one William Ruto and a host of charged Kalenjin noisemakers, skillfully branded as ‘Mau Forest evictions’.
In just this one instant, when cabinet had allocated money for resettlement of those removed from Mau, treasury, then headed by Uhuru, using Kinyua, now Head of Public Service, ingeniously refused to release. Kalenjins, then charged by Ruto, blamed then lands minister James Orengo. The media, bidding as usual, overplayed the ‘eviction’ by Raila, underplayed the ‘conservation’ by Raila and poured all blames and lethargy on both Orengo (directly) and Raila (indirectly).
Uhuru got off the hook! Ruto continued to play politics. I remember, then an outfit called G-47, would convene somewhere in Nakuru where Balala would confidently point at the future ‘high table’. The ‘civil service’ Ng’eno is talking about is still very much alive. In fact, Ng’eno appreciates this when he says “since no major changes have been made in the civil service, the parallel state remains intact and active, right at the heart of the Jubilee administration”.
Unlike Ng’eno, I do not believe, even for a moment, that there can be any ‘major changes’ to this ‘parallel state(s)’, especially with Uhuru at the top. Though he may not have created it, Uhuru is probably the biggest beneficiary, together with Ruto, of this ‘civil service’.
Ruto, probably with this knowledge, is aware that he cannot take on Uhuru in any future political contest and win. Buoyed by this ‘civil service’, Uhuru has told everyone with ears, including Ruto, that he is around for the next decade.
Uhuru has ‘regrouped’ this ‘civil service’, and continue to do so. Partly, this informs the rant by the likes of Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter. Interestingly, this ‘civil service’ can only answer to one person at a time, and your guess is as right as mine.
Dikembe Disembe comments on politics, higher education and ethnicity in Kenya.