Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Making Sense of the Cabinet Reshuffle

One of the reasons Kibaki’s presidency remains an enigma to Kenyans is not because of his notoriously incoherent off-the-cuff remarks but rather because his actions speak so loud we can never hear what he is actually saying. In the surprise minor cabinet reshuffle that took place last week, the President made a political statement on his stand on the ICC process and the fate of the Ocampo Four but surprisingly, it is a statement that seems to have eluded our attentiveness.

There is no doubt that the recent cabinet reshuffle was made long before it was announced but given that the reshuffle was vindictive and smacked of arrogance, such an announcement had the potential of generating serious political backlash.
The President it appears was in a limbo for a while waiting for an opportune moment to ambush the nation with the announcement.

His golden opportunity however came in the wake of news of the discovery of oil deposit in Turkana, never mind that its commercial viability has not been ascertained and this is not the first time such a discovery has been made in Kenya. The President nonetheless immediately seized the opportunity to announce his controversial cabinet reshuffle. He stole his energy minister’s thunder and took it upon himself to announce the Turkana oil discovery even though a presidential announcement was premature given that the commercial viability of the discovery has not been ascertained. The President knew all too well that by making the announcement himself, people would take the announcement very seriously something that was bound to generate the necessary excitement to prevent a backlash from the public over the reshuffle.

Everything seems to have gone the President’s way as the cabinet reshuffle and the discovery of oil in Turkana have competed fiercely for space in the mass media and much to the delight and relief of the President, the outrage of the controversial cabinet reshuffle has been effectively tempered by public hysteria over the discovery of oil deposit in Turkana. Our consuming fascination with the prospects of oil wealth might be our undoing.

The public hysteria that has been generated by the discovery of oil has seen the media go into overdrive with its coverage of the oil story and the media hysteria generated by the story has doubtlessly driven up sales raking in tidy profits.

Watching media hysteria being generated to exploit mass hysteria over something that isn’t concrete has been interesting and instructive. I have also observed with great fascination how public outrage over the President’s controversial cabinet reshuffle has been subdued with ease. In all fairness though, the public cannot be equally excited and outraged at the same time.

Be that as it may, the President’s message in the reshuffle which saw the replacement of the forthright and overachieving minister for justice and constitutional affairs and his foreign affairs counterpart with loyalists opposed to the ICC process is coming through. The former justice minister, Mutula Kilonzo’s highest priority was the facilitation of full implementation of the constitution and preparation of the country for free and fair general elections. The minister had also become renowned for championing national values and principles of good governance but it is his crusade on Chapter Six of the constitution that put him at odds with The Hague suspects and the President. His insistence that the constitutional provisions on Leadership and Integrity barred Uhuru and Ruto from vying the presidency in the forthcoming general elections was simply unpalatable and so the President decided to fix him. The reassignment of the former foreign affairs minister Moses Wetangula to the ministry of trade on the other hand is seen by some observers as chastisement for appearing to lean to the ODM and more importantly for his failure to effectively frustrate the ICC process.

It is apparent therefore that the President is uncomfortable with the ICC process and he is unwilling to continue fully cooperating with the ICC. It is plain to see that the cabinet reshuffle is intended to constrain cooperation with the ICC and thereby shielding the Ocampo Four from facing trial at The Hague.

The reshuffle it seems was an endorsement of the Limuru II declaration by his fellow Gema leaders. With the recent reshuffle, the President in cahoots with his fellow Gema leaders has revived Project Uhuru. The revival of Project Uhuru on the part of the President might be an act of self-preservation. The confirmation of charges against the Ocmpo four and the forged British document appear to have unnerved the President and awakened him to the fact that the prosecution of Uhuru Kenyatta and Amb. Francis Muthaura could unearth sufficient evidence to support his involvement in the 2007/8 post-election violence.

Even though the ICC Prosecutor has repeatedly said that he does not have evidence of the President’s involvement in the common plan to carry out revenge attacks in rift valley, the President was adversely mentioned at the confirmation of charges hearings for hosting the meeting in which the alleged common plan by Uhuru Kenyatta and Amb. Francis Muthaura was hatched.

Unlike his predecessor, President Kibaki is inarticulate but his actions often speak louder than his words and it obvious we have never learned to listen to his actions. It is the reason why many people are still hoping to hear him explicitly endorse his preferred presidential candidate. It won’t happen but that is not to say he hasn’t.

No comments:

Post a Comment