Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Will Jubilee’s ‘techno cabinet’ blip or flop?

If you ask me the above question, I’ll answer so-so or it depends or time will tell. For, running a country is a multipronged-cum-complicated task. Sometimes people need material stuff. The other times, the same people need moral ones. This was obvious during the elections where peace was a much after-sought item than material things.
True, looking at the gamble Jubilee government has taken; I can comfortably aver that Jubilee cabinet will deliver. For, its members don’t have any political baggage such as representing their constituencies which would consume a lot of their time and energy. They’re only answerable to the president and his deputy.
I don’t want to sound as an alarmist or a doomsayer. Again, looking at Kenyan political usage and nature, I give jubilee government thumb up. However, if I were to advise jubilee government on what should have been done vis a vis cobbling a cabinet, I surely would have suggest that 40% of the cabinet slot be put aside for politicians especially foot soldiers. I’m saying this after interrogating some developed democracy that we like to ape.
Hilary Clinton and John Kerry, apart from being democrats, are savvy politicians. Furthermore, why did president Obama appoint them? He appointed them not just because they’re technocrats or what but because they are democrats. so too, you can consider Chuck Hagel, a Republican who’s appointed secretary of defence in order to bring political balance that can act to soften his party by bringing it into the fold. It is sad. In Kenya, the practice’s a winner takes it all as the loser loses it all. This is going problematic in the future.
Again, looking at the gamble Jubilee has taken, it deserves kudos. For, it did not fear to fail or being blamed. It becomes even murky. Importantly, we must consider the fact that neither Kenyatta nor Ruto would scoop expertise from their mentors. Kenyatta won’t use his father’s cunning shrewdness. He does not lead a government alone as his father who had all powers vested upon him did. He can’t draw from Daniel arap Moi due to the fact that political atmosphere has changed. So too, Moi would not offer good advice to his foe-turned-political grandson Ruto.
Now let us look at a new style and a new dawn in doing things. Deputy president William Ruto was quoted as saying, “I can tell you today that there will only be two politicians in the Cabinet, the President and I.” Why did Ruto say something that would be contradicted within just 24 hours? What signals does this send to Kenyans? Do the cracks between the duo--- which has tried to show itself as a yin and yang while actually there are some conflicts underneath--- start to surface? Was it a slip of the tongue or something that was not yet decided? Who is behind the appointment of politicians as opposed to Ruto's assertion?
Had UhuRuto maintained that they won't appint politicians one would have asked: What are the reasons of preferring technocrats to politicians? Why Kenyatta and Ruto did not reflect to the fact they too are politicians? Is it better than thou resulting from the victory or sincerity towards fulfilling their promises to Kenyans? Will they be able to man and term such qualified technocrats whilst they don’t have any skill or experience in management?
When Ruto said that their cabinet would be consisted of technocrats only, many jumped to the conclusion that this was the last nails into foot soldiers’ political coffins. Many thought that politicos such as Charity Ngilu who jumped ship at the eleventh hour to join jubilee, Prof Sam Ongeri who fought a hard battle to deliver Abagusii, Najib Balala, jubilee’s kingpin in coastal and Eugene Wamalwa even Musalia Mudavadi of Amani Coalition would not be taken on board.
From the blue, Ruto’s hint did not hold water. We saw two foot soldiers, Balala and Ngilu, being appointed. If anything, this has reduced the risk that not all foot soldier have been left out in the cold. Had all foot soldiers been left out, it’d have been even murkier to note that giants like former PM Raila Odinga and former VP Kalonzo Musyoka and others are out in the cold. This would have backfired just like Kibaki-Odinga MOU did? Was there any MOU or promises offered or exchanged during the coalition formation?
You can see how this is going to have humongous impact on the paradox of either Kalonzo or Odinga should be returned to the parliament in order to lead opposition or not. I like the way jubilee did ponder on this. Before even the vetting of the appointees started, grumblings were heard about, for instance, appointing banker to be the secretary of Health. Ironically, when Ngilu and Anyang Nyong were appointed nobody complained. Why? It is because they are politicians. I think this acted as a wakeup call for UhuRuto to accommodate the likes of Ngilu and Balala. This was enhanced by political culture and usage of seeing famous politicians in cabinet or parliament. It is difficult to remove it from the mind of Kenyans. For it is in their mindsets. People are used to see the cabinet that is basically formed to suit things such as regional balance, political respect, direct and indirect control or taming of politicians who have clout. What’s the danger of leaving them out while the have their followers even in the departments and ministries the technocrats will man?
Will those left out politicos concur, and thus, fully support this move or circumnavigate by forming new alliances or feel that they’ve not been treated well thus sabotage it? Don’t tell me that they’ll be appointed ambassadors or chairs of various parastatals. Who wants to be ambassador that means to be sent away from his or her base or his or her followers? It needs the courage of the mad especially at this time Kenyans are upbeat waiting to see jubilee’s promises fulfilled.
Two questions are standing tall asking for answers. Will two politicians be able to manage and tame technocrats or be tamed? Will their new style of doing things flop and force them to go back to the drawing board or come up with a holy grail namely deliverance? Again, the man is the one who stands alone. The sage has it. Will Jubilee’s techno cabinet triumph or flop? Only time will tell. Give it more time.
Source: The African Executive Magazine May 1, 2013.

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