By Dikembe Disembe
There is an attempt to scapegoat devolution as the fiend causing our ballooning wage bill. More tantalizing is the affront by the jubilee government, which, apparently, wants to ‘fix’ the problem by silencing debate over it; or building the usual partisanship based on blind loyalty to party coalitions and the executive bureaucracy.
Herein lies the dillema facing Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen. Unlike the gang surrounding URP party leader William Ruto, Sen. Murkomen is quite exposed, liberal and to some extent â€œa stand aloneâ€ fellow, he is confident of his potential. Again, Murkomen is not an establishment honcho, or chatterbox like Aden Duale; he belongs to a younger generation -probably the 3rd generation – of Kenyan leaders with multiple constituencies.
Before joining elective politics, Murkomen tutored at Moi University Law School at Annex Campus, where, he left a reputation among his students as a fellow with some core, especially in an age where lecturers dish out to students more notes to read than concepts to grasp for the post-classroom period. In my view, part of Murkomen’s idealism in the politics surrounding devolution stems from this fact: the expectation from a constituency looking on him as an academic respected in the teaching of the what constitutes the ‘rule of law’ in ‘democratic’ systems.
While William Ruto has excelled in politics more than any other Rift Valley politician, except for retired president Moi; rising through the ranks to deputise President Uhuru Kenyatta, he lacks the mettle to expand on his current constituency of diehard ethnic followers. Ruto lacks both an academic constituency or a professional one- he has no ‘colleagues’.
In the politics of elitism, Murkomen ranks higher than Ruto. A joke along senior lecture halls, especially at the university of Nairobi, has it that William Ruto registered for Masters degree around 1991, graduating in 2012 hence becoming one of the longest masters student to ever study in Kenya! As I said earlier, this is a ‘joke’, facts notwithstanding.
During this period, Murkomen earned his bachelors and masters, he studied for his masters at the university of Pretoria and was an exchange student for the LLM course at American University Washington College of Law, returning home to take a teaching job at a low paying public university; and, in the process building a different reputation for himself. It is this name that Murkomen is protecting. An educated senator balancing the demands of his party with the reality in his country. A high-ranking senate devolution committee leader faced with the opposition of a party leader schooled in the KANU era politics of ‘everything goes’.
How to handle Senator Murkomen is alleged to have roped in not only the deputy president, but the president himself. Writing for the Jackal News, an ‘unofficial government gutter press’ of sorts, President Kenyatta is quoted to have warned Murkomen of the ‘war’ he was getting himself in by his immutable stance on devolution.
Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have recently told Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi that Murkomen was treading on dangerous grounds. â€˜â€˜Huyo rafiki yako anaitwa Murkomenâ€¦ mwambie tumemtolea gloves,â€™â€™ said a source close to Sudi (extract from Jackalnews.com)
â€˜â€˜The president was echoing similar concerns by William Ruto that Murkomen was fighting the government for no fundamental agenda,â€™â€™ another source close to the presidency told Jackal News.
Murkomen maintains there is a conspiracy to stiffle the senate by actors in the executive. In so doing, the eventuality is to render devolution hollow, and kill one of the liberating hallmarks of our new constitution; a document whose survival is today highly unlikely.
â€œWe have no business being senators if we have no business to do with allocation of resources to our countiesâ€¦ It is a deliberate scheme and a conspiracy of other institutions to ensure that the Senate is discarded,â€ Murkomen said.
In the Uhuruto script, a playbook of scandal politics; where the first rule is to appeal to the ethnic cocoon, Murkomen has little chance for success. However, he is trying.