By Dikembe Disembe
The Jubilee Alliance government over the weekend came under sharp scrutiny of our development partners. Ambassadors from 18 leading missions stationed in Nairobi, including the United States, Britain and Japan all appealed to the government to end rampant corruption.
“At the moment when Kenya is restructuring government through the devolution process, attracting investment, expanding trade, creating jobs, and fighting terrorism, corruption is holding the country back. It is an unwelcome companion, and has no place in Kenya’s bright future,” reads the statement and calls for “strong commitment,” said the diplomats.
But in swift rejoinder, uncalled for and highly boisterous, Munyori Buku, long term president Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokesperson and currently Director of Public Communications at State House told off the diplomats, referring to Â them as “junior officers”.
“They must start to learn that the world has shifted and nobody really cares about what they think. They can neither take us to heaven nor deliver us from hell,” said Mr Buku.
This is what got me thinking: why then did Mrs Kenyatta have run in the marked lanes of the city of London, where one of the signatories to the Nairobi statement, High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner, hails?
If the world has really shifted, where is the equivalent Gatundu Marathon or Kirinyaga Marathon which can attract Kenya’s first lady to go run helter skelter and fund-raise for 47 ‘mobile clinics’ to be erected in Kenya?
The coincidence of the statements of the ambassadors cannot be gainsaid. Both President Uhuru and his wife were holed up in London, invariably taking part in an elite athletes marathon.
For all Buku’s ludicrous posturing, Kenya is still very much beholden to the global world – especially the western world.But Buku has that sort of temerity because he serves a government whose foreign policy priorities is run at the behest of an indicted president suffering silently from global isolation.
People like Munyori Buku do not feel the pinch of the common man. He works in State House. He speaks for the President. However, the brazen exuberance of petty and aggressive arrogance only aggravates Â Kenya’s sad and situation in the global sphere.
For Kenya to meet its 21st century challenges, it needs a foreign policy that is more relevant, and which appreciates relative decline of the role of the national government, or the ‘state’ as the sole traditional actor in the world stage.
Today, governments, or states, are facing stern competition from other actors in the international stage. These actors are exerting more subtle pressure, and are demanding that governments that governments take their interests into consideration when implementing foreign policy.
This is not difficult to understand. People want to travel freely, to conduct business abroad or to be involved in various types of national interactions and exchanges.Â For instance, nowadays, international decisions are more often shaped according to the opinions of the non-governmental organizations, or international persons, be they religious voices or politicians, lawyers or sportsmen.
Gradually, these non-state actors are expanding the sphere of their influence. The parliamentarians of the world have successfully set up a structure of global and regional interaction and are now claiming a role in diplomatic meetings – a role which traditionally was reserved for the executive branch.
Further, with decentralization of the state to more autonomous entity, foreign policy of a country is being shaped by these new entities greatly. International economy is becoming more and more competitive. Governments everywhere are primarily concerned with maintaining the competitiveness of their economies. Accordingly, private economic decisions are now largely controlling political choices of governments.
In countries like Kenya where domestic resources alone cannot uplift millions from penury, international partners become extremely important players. Diplomats in our country, therefore, have good reasons, and intentions, when they call the attention of President Uhuru on runaway government corruption.
To call ambassadors ‘junior officer’ brings into disrepute the integrity and reputation of the appointing authority and people of those countries. But it is even more contradictory, disgusting even, Â when your boss, and his wife, still runs in the capitals where these ‘junior officers’ come from.
The Jubilee Alliance government’s “enduring anger” towards our western development partners often shows in the most uncouth manner, and, in many occasions, by the most garbage-spewing crackersÂ stuck in the pre-2013 campaign ‘choices have consequences’ dishwater.
It is disrespectful and violates constitutional principles and values governing civil diplomatic service. It erodes Kenya’s international standing and image. It is wrong!