Gabriel Dolan: It’s now harder for politicians to fool us, but they’re trying

Our political leaders have at last made peace and proceeded to share the spoils. They eventually discovered they had far more in common, namely greed, than they had originally imagined.

Should the power-sharing agreement encounter further difficulties, they remain with the option of resolving them by creating more ministries, purchasing another set of luxury cars, acquiring new offices and rewarding more of their cronies with jobs.

Whatever the plight of Kenyans, it does appear that the political parties are in a win-win situation.

No such liberty is granted to the half-million displaced Kenyans left desolate and desperate, mourning the loss of lives and livelihoods. They cannot allocate to themselves alternative land or new jobs; nor replace the lives of their loved ones.

PAINFUL ALSO IS THE MEMORY THAT the Government did little or nothing to prevent their torment. While the political protagonists shake hands and drink tea together, who will come and reconcile survivors with the neighbours who evicted and killed them?

The perpetrators of the violence themselves must be haunted by the presence of their victims camping nearby in appalling conditions. There can be little joy at the constant sight of burned homes and deserted villages.

Community leaders in Rift Valley have frequently claimed that the violence was spontaneous and not planned or organised. Put another way, they maintain that there was no pre-election plan to organise post-election violence.

The insinuation here is that the violence is forgivable and perhaps justifiable, on the grounds that it was a spontaneous reaction to a fraudulent election outcome.

However, that analysis does not detail why the violence continued in a systematic, targeted and organised manner for several weeks. Neither does it explain the retaliatory violence that engulfed the south rift in late January.

In any case, there is no moral justification for burning, looting, raping and killing, and both offenders and organisers must be held accountable for their crimes and quickly face the law. Whether done in anger or revenge, these offences are criminal.

Yet, it is becoming evident that leaders on both sides of the divide have blood on their hands. As a result, we are likely to see them strike a deal that will ensure the truth regarding their roles in the violence will be suppressed.

A further worry is that the TJRC Draft Bill will be amended to grant the orchestrators amnesty, thus perpetuating the culture of impunity that has characterised electoral violence since 1991.

Burying the truth may absolve the political class, but will result in the public and posterity condemning the Kalenjin community for the violence. After blanket denunciation, the community may once more be denied an opportunity to articulate their historical land grievances. This is exactly what happened after the land clashes of 1992 and 1997.

So, is there any hope? Uncovering the truth about the violence and the land injustices must go hand in hand. Yet, truth appears to be in short supply at the moment, or at best, is contested.

I have yet to meet a PNU supporter who would admit that the presidential election was fraudulent. On the other hand, I have not heard an ODM voter who regrets the communal violence.

We still cling to our political and ethnic identities and loyalties even when they become obstacles in the quest for reform and justice. Put rather more bluntly, the political class has taken us for one long ride and we have fallen for it.

FOR DECADES, POLITICIANS HAVE played the ethnic, land and inequality cards and proceeded to organise “poor-on-poor” wars, all in the name of democracy and justice. All the while, the fat bank accounts, overseas investments and the four million acres looted by the politicians remained secure and protected.

Now, the victims live in tents while taxpayers must pay for palaces for the holders of new offices. How much more nonsense, lies and games can we tolerate before we revolt in outrage? Or have we lost our collective sense of outrage?

The political hegemonies are the greatest obstacle towards democratisation and reforms, and the grand coalition Cabinet of 42 is the latest confirmation of this.

Yet the good news is that Kenyans are becoming more and more aware of their games, as illustrated by their reserved welcome for the belated announcement of the world’s largest Cabinet.

Fr Dolan ministers in Bangladesh village, Mombasa.

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