Thursday, November 5, 2009

Benz vs. Passat: A Political Lesson for Uhuru Kenyatta

Interesting to listen to the professional opinions of such lay people as Otieno Kajwang' and Bonnie Khalwale on the suitability or otherwise, of the VW Passat to replace the Mercedes Benz as official carriage for government royalty. But it is just as baffling to listen to Uhuru Kenyatta trying to defend a purchase deal that has come under such fire recently. But this is only a day in the class of Kenyan Politics.

In between the cries of foul over the 5 billion shillings said to have been the value of this transaction, I cannot help but pity the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance for fighting a losing battle. When parliament resumes, he will be roasted over open fire with all the wrath of the near miss concerning 9 billion worth of a computer error. While I am not euphoric about the gentleman, I sympathise with him because he may be politically blind. Without reminding him of the sour deal that he nearly cut to retain an overpaid, underperforming head of anti-corruption – at the expense of a major water table, I would like to offer my pro bono advise to this political novice.

Mr. Kenyatta, if your father in his wisdom did not tell you, the first rule in politics is; ‘Politics is a game of interest.’ Do not forget that. Politics is a means of resource allocation or re-allocation not necessarily equitably. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I understand that you studied Political Science somewhere outside Kenya but the drugs you are rumoured to have taken may have impeded your retention of some lectures. You are the son of our founding father and given the weak defense you have received from your predecessor Amos Kimunya, I feel obliged to step in. The man lost his defense bid against parliament. He is unqualified to defend you.

Listen carefully to Otieno Kajwang and Bonnie Khalwale. That is rule number two; ‘You must keep your friends close but your enemies closer.’ Kajwang is a lawyer whose career is less than impeccable and the bull fighter is only a doctor. Just like you, they know very little about engine capacity and fuel efficiency of the Passat. I assure you they are not experts in Subarus, Audis, Toyotas or the many vehicles that suit your budget day description. I swear to you however, they know more about politics than you do. Khalwale brought Kimunya and Ringera down. He tried to wrestle Ruto from his Agricultural Ministry but this son of the Rift Valley was taught politics by Politician Number One, Mzee Moi. That is how, even without the support of his party leader Mr. Odinga, he escaped. That is also how he fooled you into supporting his Mau deal then deserted you at the alter, when your marriage mattered most to you. But I will let you in on another secret that he played by that helped him.

Rule number three; ‘Never eat alone.’ This man William truly knows how to share a maize cob with the relevant friends and more importantly enemies. Personal interest. That is how he silenced the parliamentary choir that was about to sing him a disapproving tune. Their mouths were swollen from all the maize they had been feasting on. Ruto had eaten with them. Listen to the lines that Khalwale and Kajwang are writing in their anti-Uhuru song and then carefully read between them.

These men are not representing the interest of their constituents. No. They are not concerned about reducing government spending. No. That is why, just like you, they will never accept tax on their salaries. I am doubtful also that they do not dislike the VW brand. No. They would care less about these matters. What these men decry is your selfishness, Mr. Kenyatta. Ask Githongo to explain this; this is their turn to eat and you are clearly pulling the plate from right under their mouths. When they ask why you did not give each ministry the freedom to buy their own vehicles, they are only bringing to your attention that the 5 billion shilling cake would have been shared between more people than just yourself. Each minister, given the opportunity of making part of the deal, would have reserved some crumbs to take back home. They do have mortgages, school fees and some luxuries that cost them money. And these two in question never had rich fathers who were head of state. I beg you that you understand their predicament.

When they chop you to pieces on the floor of the house, Mr. Kenyatta, it will not be in revenge to the rot that your father is said to have started in this country. And do not be fooled, they do not hate you. They will only be seeking to teach you some brotherly love; to share the spoils of war with your generals as well as some enemies. That is self preservation. Before they succeed in taking away the head start that you have against your Central Kenya friends to the presidency, please do one thing that will muzzle them and numb their motions in parliament.

Mr. Kenyatta, return all the Mercedes Benzes to the relevant ministries. Not to be used; Of course not! We are all pretending to be saving tax payers money and am in on the lie. But allow then to dispose them through their own means. That is devolution. That way, they will become your co-conspirators and will have lost the moral high ground to point fingers at you on the floor or in the media. Remember your name, Uhuru, means freedom. Give them that freedom. I assure you that you shall avoid an ugly outcome when the august house resumes.

You have Ocampo to worry about. This is an unwelcome distraction. You escaped the computer errors narrowly. Do not risk another showdown by pretending a defense of what public opinion has already tried ruled against you. Include your accusers in the dock of political defense. Eat with them Mr. Kenyatta, before they eat you alive.

The Tin Man.


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