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Friday, July 30, 2010

"Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!"

It's George Orwell's Animal Farm all over again. The politics of two grandfathers is selling newspapers and hogging media airtime. Kibaki is better than Moi. Moi is better than Kibaki. Depends on who you are. But I will remind you that none of them is better. They all failed the country in their own ways.

I saw two old men behaving badly this week. They were attacking each other over this document called ‘katiba’. Well, they are politicians. They’ve both made false promises. And we all know it. Does any of them have a track record? They both have. Both good and bad

One of them, President Kibaki, ensured that in seven years we have good roads (that’s what people say until they step on the Mumias-Bungoma cattle track. It’s like you are going to the Mara! When Moi was there…it was like the Naivasha-Gilgil) and a bouncing economy, the other one, former President, Daniel Moi, made sure we never killed and slaughtered each other, even as we died as paupers.

So all of a sudden –because he’s joined the anti-Constitution forces—people are calling for the prosecution of Moi for the sins of the ‘Special Branch’, his dreaded torture squad working of course, with his blessings.

Okay, I was re-reading Michela Wrong’s It’s Our Turn to Eat and you know something, I have never forgotten the betrayal John Githongo underwent under President Kibaki.

And arising from that, I never ever will forget 2007.

“Five years of economic recovery were sabotaged in a matter of weeks. Tourists packed up and fled, whisked away by charter companies which then cancelled future flights. With militias blocking the roads and ripping up sections of the colonial railway, goods could no longer cross the country. Flowers lay rotting in silent airport storage rooms, maize stood unharvested, vegetables failed to get to market and Kenya’s landlocked neighbours watched aghast as fuel deliveries ground to a halt, crippling their own economies.

Seeing their hard-earned profits shrivel, appalled Kikuyu professionals formed lobby groups, drew up detailed peace plans and called on Kibaki to extend a conciliatory hand. ‘Kibaki is entirely to blame for this,’ said one banker friend. ‘Raila was not a difficult person to satisfy. By his absolute indolence, Kibaki failed to manage a pretty easy process. And now, because of what he did, we’re hated.

Oh boy, are we hated.’

The response was silence. It was others’ turn now to share John Githongo’s revelation. ‘People are beginning to realise it’s not a question of Kibaki being misled by the hardliners around him,’ one investment expert told me. ‘He is the hardliner.’

You see, for you to appreciate Moi, you have to look at 2002 December. How would it have been if he had refused to budge or if he would have openly stolen the election? He didn’t. He left the seat to Kibaki.

Moi was pelted with stones and mud. He was called names. But with that single incident, his sins, at least to the public, were forgiven.

Enter Kibaki. And look at 2007? What was so difficult for him? He should have just have packed and left. Now, just because he granted a PR interview (no Robert Frost or Jeff Koinange’s or even Louis Otieno’s tough questions asked), and oozed as a very open man, we are all wowed. He’s a good man, who wants to live a good legacy.

In 2005, when they –Kiraitu Murungi (then Justice Minister) and his banana brigade—told him to shut up, didn’t the fledgling orange brigade insist that he was a Kenyan exercising his right under the Constitution?

The shoe is now on the other foot. Oops, it doesn’t fit.

And for you to appreciate Kibaki, you just have to read this interview. I have to admit, I don’t know who this man is. He reads speeches written for him, he rarely speaks in public, but the few who speak about him, like Charity Ngilu, the Water Minister, will say this today about him and that tomorrow. Today, he’s best thing under the sun, tomorrow, he’s just a bad old man.

I don’t know much about him. This interview and my three close interactions with the Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura just sum up what I know about the old man. Overall, he’s good-natured, abhors politics, hates mediocrity and wants results. But because he’s surrounded by vultures, he sometimes borrows a feather.

Goodness!

LEST WE FORGET: WE SHOULD BE DISCUSSING THE MERITS AND DEMERITS OF A NEW CONSTITUTION. NOT OLD MEN PLAYING INANE POLITICS WHEN WE KNOW THE TRUTH ON THE GROUND IS DIFFERENT.

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