By Dikembe Disembe
Let’s pop champagne to celebrate Kenya’s top civil servant! Economist Joseph Kinyua, appointed unilaterally by President Uhuru Kenyatta, may go down after Jubilee’s tenure is over as the single most significant appointment of President Uhuru’s presidency. But only if he can handle the Kalenjins in URP and elsewhere!
The return of Kinyua was not without haggling and murmurs. As a technocrat in Uhuru’s treasury, Kinyua was often accused of some of the worst power excesses in the Grand Coalition government. For instance, while cabinet approved money for resettlement of IDPs, Kinyua delayed most of the ‘important’ disbursements for the whole life of President Kibaki’s last government!
The pay-off? IDPs, especially those in the Rift Valley, would often be arraigned in the media, blaming, accusing and cursing the then lands minister, Hon James Orengo and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for their sorrows. On the other hand, the PNU wing of the government, joined Â then by rebel ODM members, majority being Rift Valley politicians led by William Ruto, Isaac Ruto, Charles Keter and Joshua Kutuny played into their community emotions.
Never before in the history of Kenyan politics did so much ethnic fear and hate peddled for so long by so determined a team as was the Jubilee 2 year presidential campaigns.Â Even in instances when the lands minister had finally acquired the IDPs land for resettlement; the role of Special Programmes minister, then Dr Naomi Shabaan (PNU), would be juxtaposed more. It was bad politics!
In short, the politics which ensured Uhuru Kenyatta win the presidency in March 4 took the civil service time, resources and skillful manipulation of state authority to arrange so systematically immediately the same group had managed to ‘rig’ Kibaki back to power in 2007 that Kenyans really need to applaud the futile attempt by CORD leader Raila Odinga. He came so close!
Interestingly, a large number of former civil service bureaucrats and PNU-leaning politicians would eventually find themselves in CORD. These people include Busia Senator Amos Wako, former Kibaki advisor and Makueni Governor Prof Kivutha Kibwana, former Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo, Machakos County Governor Alfred Mutua, Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, Bungoma County senator-elect Moses Wetangula and even CORD co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka! In a way, these fellows, then power pawns in GEMA’s grand political chessboard, only ensure that when they left the government, the opposition had been ‘destroyed’ beyond repair.
But not all former state power brokers left with the allure of a political office of their own. Some remained. Others, like former Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura, would be swiped away by the Ocampo envelope. It is said he may be recycled again. Alas! You never grow old in Mumbi’s house!
However, no one in this Jubilee government, in my view, Â understands state intrigues more than Uhuru’s Chief of Staff, Joseph Kinyua.
I say so because looking at former Kibaki inner-core, including Cabinet Affairs Secretary (or what is the man’s designation?)Francis Kimemia, many did not see Uhuru Kenyatta being the president of Kenya after Kibaki. No wonder they attempted to arm-twist Uhuru into abandoning the Presidency for (madimoni) Musalia Mudavadi.
But Kinyua, who served under Uhuru at Treasury, did the things he did because he furthered a cause he believed in. He knew that should IDPs be settled ‘peacefully’, ODM would take the credit! He knew something about ‘denying’ MAU Forest evictees compensation! Even when Githae took over, he knew what it would translate to to write-off billions in shillings of coffee debts by some cooperatives in central Kenya!
Meaning, even as Kinyua towers over the civil service today; none will ensure Uhuru’s 10 years than the soft spoken economist whose directives is sending chills down government rank and file. Joseph Kinyua is the Karl Rove of the Bush-Cheney Presidency. He is the very software of the Kenyatta hardware presidency.
Let’s take his directive freezing employment in government parastatals. With it goes the usual stuffing of mothers, daughters, fathers, uncles, nephews, sons, call girls and concubines of government politicians and private sector wheeler-dealers. The other thing Kinyua is killing is the recycling of political rejects in government agencies.
The freeze also removes the authority to appoint, hire and fire from ministry heads – the technocratic cabinet secreatries. What this means is that noble tribalists like Charity Ngilu will no longer unilaterally appoint all Kambas to the lands docket; as she did when she served as health minister some years ago. The power to appoint will now reside with the President!
But Kinyua circular is harsh on URP and Kalenjins than any other group. Many people have been wondering why Deputy President William Ruto has not been keen in pushing for URP (read Kalenjins) to be appointed in the government in the same ratio as those perceived to have been done by TNA. Those in scatterred in the Rift Valley still waiting to see some mass exodus of Jobless Kalenjins in government should do themselves a favour and wait for Ruto’s mbolea to continue farming. It won’t happen!
The reason is that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE! Towards the end of Kibaki’s government, most Kikuyus had their terms extended or contracts signed anew. In fact, those like KPA MD who had their expiry dates still in years were re-hired with more years! In effect, this made Uhuru’s work easier. Somehow, Uhuru’s ethnic base sits comfortable in the laurels of state machinery.
The other disadvantage to URP is that the current Presidency is not a co-presidency. If you read that in the standard newspaper then use it to wrap meat! This is Uhuru’s presidency! By law and by fact it is. I do not here mean that Deputy President William Ruto has no say; nay, the man from Kamagut always have his say but the son of Jomo his way.
To Kenyans, the holoi poloi in the 40 other tribes; and the ‘watu hivi hivi’ in the 2 ruling tribes, this future arrangement by Kinyua and other Uhuru mandarins, like Abdikadir Mohamed and Ken Awuondo (Authors of the new state power bureaucracy document) only propels the country’s democracy forward!
How? You see, when Kalenjins who supported Uhuru in the selfish hope that the government will be a two-tribe hegemony will realise that they have been short-circuited, after all, the kind of ethnic goat mentality which ensured Jubilee won the last elections get weakened. The pinheads in the Kalenjin community will realise that in the final analysis; whoever get to be the president is not the issue, rather, the issue shall be: can he/she get us the mbolea? Can whoever the president is ensure that we have a growing public and private sector run by sound economic fundamentals which is actually lifting people out of poverty?
To me, this is the most amazing aspect of Kinyua’s onslaught on the Kalenjin elites. By counselling President Uhuru not to just dish out state jobs to every Kalenjin who claims to be in URP, like one Alfred Keter wants, this foresighted leader destroys one of Kenya’s political class trickery of the poor masses: using state jobs as baits to lure whole communities along ethnic formations which only ensure the leader ascends to power.
The realization that the appointment of, say, Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, or the nomination of one Joy Gwendo as Senator, though both undertaken by TNA, has no bearing on the Luo community per se, and serves the two individuals more, makes it easy to accommodate any Kipkoech, Wafula or Githinji whose hardwork, or patronage, or both, also ensures they get into government bureaucracy. It is the same realization that should awaken those who voted Uhuru and Ruto merely because the two belonged to their ethnic communities. To us, the question should be: Is it broken? Whose policies can fix it? Period!
In future, therefore, if President Uhuru manages to end the kind of ethnic grandstanding by the elites of Kenya’s top four communities every election cycle, then Kenya stands a rare opportunity to have finally re-established meritocracy as more fashionable form of government brokerage than ethnicity!
So Mr Kinyua go ahead, short-circuit the tall dark thin guys; the country is fully behind you!
Dikembe Disembe comments on politics, higher education and ethnicity in Kenya.