Uhuru must put his lieutenants on a leash

President Uhuru Kenyatta with part of his cabinet.

The 2015 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance ranks Kenya’s performance as “largely positive”, taking 14th position on the continent in overall governance. This good positioning, according to the report, is complemented by the progress the country has made in overall governance since 2011. As a result, Kenya ranks among the ten most improved countries in Africa.
In a trend also noted all over the continent, Kenya has registered progress in, among others, Participation and Human Rights, Safety and rule of Law and Sustainable Economic Opportunity, whereas there has been a decline in Human Development, Health, Personal Safety and National Security, Education and Civil Liberties.
This score, especially in the governance index, is certainly uplifting. But the picture painted of the country by the report seems very different from that projected by our leadership – one dominated by an increasingly quarrelsome President, who, despite the brave face he wears, seems to live in mortal fear of the Opposition.
This is not to deny or negate the findings of the report. In many sectors, there is work going on to show that, to some extent, the country’s leadership has or is likely to deliver. And there are examples of this, particularly in infrastructure and service delivery. Even in these fronts, however, claims, some of them proven, of graft and deal-cutting, are almost becoming normalised.
Elsewhere, crucial institutions seem to be on a mission to run down the country, by kneading the constitution to their preference, and through plundering the country’s lean economic granaries. The ruling coalition is saddled with opportunists and wheeler-dealers out to make a kill before the next elections. At one end are Kenyans looking up to legislators to make laws that live up to the spirit of the Constitution, but who are constantly disappointed by the quality of laws churned out. On the other end are the legislators themselves, oblivious to the importance of their positions, and champing at the bit to squeeze any and every shilling they can out of every possible situation.
The President and his Deputy, on their part, seem unwilling to tame their lieutenants, most probably because of the political implications doing so would have at the next election. As a consequence, instead of working to end graft, mismanagement and maladministration, the President is passing the message that he does not trust or expect the electorate to reward him for good work, and has to depend on the salesmanship of the power brokers around him.
The President must begin to ask himself the questions Kenyans are asking him on social media, in newspaper columns and letters to editors, and breakfast shows. Why are his own supporters not as vocal in his favour as they were a year ago? How is it that almost everyone in his inner circle has been accused of some scam? What has he done about it? Why is he accused of working in cahoots with Parliament to subjugate crucial constitutional provisions, and usurp the powers of key institutions, particularly in regard to security? More importantly, he must ask himself why scandals are reported about his government every other day, and who is involved.
A story is told about a police woman caught receiving a bribe in 2003, just when President Kibaki had taken office, riding on the wave of promised reform, and the promise of a new dawn. The officer was frogmarched to Harambee House, where the crowd expected the President to offer a solution. President Kibaki did not come out to meet the people waiting for him. At that moment, they understood that nothing was going to change, that the guilty would go unpunished, and that the elite would continue to have their way.
If the President has been listening to sanitised reports from a few select people, he must begin to watch news bulletins and read newspapers, so that he finds out for himself what the truth is. It does not do him any good that the entire country is grumbling at his aloofness to critical issues plaguing his countrymen.
Often, the first instance is a test, to test the waters and gauge what is likely to happen, and when nothing is done to set offender on the straight, it becomes an almost-impossible-stop trend. As it is, the President is sitting on the fence, watching as those entrusted to oversee the governed plunder the land.Surely, this cannot be the legacy he wants to leave, can it?^



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