Friday, April 22, 2005


Nation had a couple of articles on nepotism in the Kibaki. Moi and Kenyatta administrations. I found all three to be quite interesting:

However, a contention made by one of the authors kind of buffeled me: "The US Congress legislated against this 45 years ago." It buffled me because, over the past few weeks their have been numerous stories about congressmen hiring their relatives:,1,446449.story?coll=la-news-politics-national&ctrack=2&cset=true Note that the latimes article begins with a caveat: "The practice [nepotism] though legal, is under scrutiny"

Moreover, their are a number of instances where the Bush has done the samething that Kibaki has done (hire family of connected folke) for example, Micheal Powell son of Colin Powell; Elaine Chao (Labor secretary) Wife of senate Majority whip Mitch Mcconell. Elizabeth Cheney, the vice president's daughter, is a deputy assistant secretary of state. Her husband, Philip Perry, is chief counsel for the Office of Management and Budget and the list goes on.

Prior to arriving in the US. the words nepotism and croynism were synonimous with Moi's appointment of luckluster or downright incompetent people into government. However, in my time here and my following of cabinet and other government appointments, I have noticed that knowing the prezzo (croynies) does go a long way into advancing ones career in government. For example, former commerce secretary Don Evans is a good friend of the prezzo, and there are many examples (ambassadors especially). The main difference is that in America the appointments are competent and go through thorough screening by the US Senate and this weeds out incompetents.

As long as the folks appointed are competent, (and no one has claimed this: "There is no suggestion that all the people appointed are not fully qualified and excellent choices for the jobs they have been given.") I do not see this as a big problem.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Kibaki Meme

1 a) Do you think kibaki is lazy?
Compared to Moi yes. Compared to Bush no. Taking into account his managerial proclivities (delegation), and health (Suspected stroke, broken leg etc..) , I would say that he is not a lazy man, just a man who has developed a unique way to deal with the rigours of the presidency. I do not agree with his strategy (I think he overreacted to Moi's micromanagement, to the point that he seems to have delegated too much and this has led to conflict and confusion within his own house).

1 b) Give an instance of when he portrayed laziness as president?
Thinker's list is rather comprehensive, though some may be protocol errors, than laziness.

2 a) What trait do u find the single most detrimental to the national cause?
Lack of conviction/ a back bone/ resolve etc.. etc..

2 b) Comment on it:
On numerous occassions the president has said something, and then not followed up. For example, NARC membership is individual, not coporate, (the parties DP, LDP no longer exist in the registrers roll), cabinet should stop fighting etc etc. He has been unable to stick to his promises. Moreover, he has been unable to control his cabinet and resolve the infighting, since 2003 there have been numerous attempts to resolve the NARC problem, but nothing has happened. The prophets of doom that the president argued in his inagural address would be confunded by the unity of NARC, have had there worsts fears realized.

3) What is the most embarrasing thing, in your opinion, Lucy Kibaki has done?
The whole December 2003 - January 2004 fiasco. Where she blew up on the VP, snubbing the comptroller, allegedly biting a cabinet minister and allegedly slapping the Prezzo. I was in the Coast at the time this fiasco went down and the town was ablaze with these stories and even when I returned to Nairobi, the number one topic of discussion on the numerous functions I attended was Lucy.

4) Do you wonder where Wambui, the Hilary Rodham of Kenya, ever went to?

5) Do you care how much influence the first lady has over decisions made by the president?
As I have articulated elsewhere, the prezzo and the first lady work as a team, we may not like it , but it is what it is. We do not only elect the PUBLIC persona, we also elect the PRIVATE. And the first lady is part an parcel of both men. From what I have observed in the past two years, the first lady seems to play a major role in how and what Kibaki says and does, this was likely developed prior to their occupation of Statehouse, though his health may have enhanced her involvement. I personally have no problem with their working, as well as, personal relationship. However, this is not to say that I do not think that she on occassion go overboard and seem to dominate the president (case in point his walking on pavement and her hoggin the red carpet, last week).

6) What is the most critical issue facing the Kenyan Presidency today?
Lack of confidence in the current holder of the office. It would seem (from polls, blogs, letters to editors and politicians views) that Kenyans (and others) have lost confidence/ hope in Kibaki. It is amazing how the optimism of two years ago has been replaced by dejection and hostility toward the president and his government.

7) Did you vote in the 2002 general election?
No. I was out of the country. Though if I was, I would probably have voted for Kenyatta.

8 a) Do you care?
Yes. However, I am not overly concerned. Those who know me, know that I always thought that the euphoria that greeted the NARC administration was a bit much. Kenyans overestimated the abilities of the NARC government to change matters in Kenya. I have always believed that Kibaki's first administration (do not know if there will be another) would be a transitional one. One that would begin the process of healing the nation, and lay the groundwork for future development.

8 b) Who else should fill this meme?
Kenyan Pundit, Afromusing, Mental, 4sheezy

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Seperation of Powers

"One of the greatest problems that has faced African nations is the lack of clear separation of powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. This is one of the core sources of poor governance, corruption and political instability in various nations.

The doctrine of separation of powers is now universally accepted as an important pillar of democratic governance and the rule of law. The doctrine is rooted in the understanding that the primary responsibility of formulating national development programmes and implementing laws lies with the Executive, while law-making is the responsibility of Parliament. On the other hand, the interpretation of the laws and arbitration of disputes is the responsibility of the Judiciary. In this respect, the three arms of government act to check on the excesses of each other and to maintain the balance of power.

We recognise that this doctrine of separation of powers does not in itself mean that a country is democratic. This is because experience has shown that it is possible for a country to have the three arms of government, without necessarily qualifying as a democracy. For example, in Africa, especially during the past decade, over-concentration of power in the Executive seriously undermined the operations of the other organs of government. The situation may have been considered necessary or even beneficial, but for the long-term it caused far-reaching distortion of governance.

It is therefore necessary to have a political commitment to respect and uphold the doctrine of separation of powers. Let me add that independence of the three arms of government does not imply total isolation from each other. The various government organs must work together to effectively deliver services to the public. Therefore, collaboration and co-operation should not always be seen as a compromise of their mandate. Though constitutionally mandated to operate independently in the discharge of their various functions, the three arms of government are necessarily inter-dependent as part of one whole, that is the government."

Excerpt from a speech made by President Kibaki

I remember a while back when the first draft of the constitution was published, I was very happy to see that a provision I support greatly was included. This being a total seperation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary, according to the draft, the prezzo was not to be a member of parliament, and his cabinet was not to include members of parliament. But as with many things about Kenyan, I was dissappointed in the end. The MPs managed to get rid of the provision and it is no longer part of the draft constitution. However, I still hold firm to my belief that there needs to be a seperation of powers. I am not sure that in the above excerpt and speech that Mr. Kibaki had the same thing in mind that I do, but I hope he does.

I must admit that I am very partial to the American system of government, I concur with the founders that there should be 3 independent branches of government, whereby an individual can not be working in two at the same time.

I have always had a number of reservations with our current system. I have always wondered, who represents the president's (or ministers) constituency in parliament? I have never heard of the prezzo (or minister) rising in the house to ask a minister a question. So I wonder, are the people of Othaya getting the short end of the stick? One may argue that the prezzo or minister can simply ask the relevant minister duting their meetings, (this is probably what happens), but then the question becomes, why should the people of Othaya, Kiambaa, Langata etc, have special avenues to address their issues? I thought all constituencies were created equal and should be treated the same?

On the same line, it is well known that Prezzos and the ministers are quite partial to their consituencies. They give special attention and development resources to their people, at the expence of country wide development. I do not blame them for this, they are politicains and they obviously want to be reelected and therefore have to carry favor with the voters. But is this right? Is this ideal for a nation that is struggling to develop? I think not.

As mentioned above, ministers are primarily politicians and then ministers and I believe the experience of the last couple of years has borne this out. Our ministers are constantly involoved in controversies and intrigues that have little to do with their ministries, and more to do with electoral and party politics. The constant bad blood and lack off adherence to the axiom of "collective responsibility" have served to further convince me of the need for total seperation of powers. I know that this would not guarantee total unity in the Executive (as the conflict between Rumsfeld and Powell, over Iraq showed), however, the fights are less likely to be public and constrained to policy arguments and not whether party membership is coporate, individual etc. Moreover, the president will be able to discipline his ministers more effectively without having to worry about alienating a particular segment of his coalition etc..

In the final analysis, ministers are likely to be more focused on their jobs and the good of all Kenyans, if they were not also MPs and politicians.

The following is a link to an interesting discussion about the role of a cabinet: