Nancy Mburu: Cabinet is an anti-climax, but for peace it will suffice

We have a new dawn, but the sun rising over the horizon is the same old one we have gotten used to.

The new dawn is not about fresh faces, now that it is clear the Grand Coalition Government has the same old actors. But we expect and hope they have all undergone a transformation, a rebirth of sorts.

When President Kibaki finally emerged on Sunday to name his new-look Cabinet, he captured our imagination. We hoped against hope that he and Prime Minister Raila Odinga would heed our calls for a lean, clean Cabinet. We also hoped they would inject more young blood into Government — men and women with boundless energy to get our battered country back on track. On these points, we were disappointed.

The two not only gave us a bloated 42-member Cabinet, with 50 assistant ministers to boot, but they also re-invented some of the country’s oldest politicians. Save for Mr John Michuki, who won our admiration as Transport minister and returned as guardian to the environment, one wonders what value the other old guard bring to Government.


One wonders whether all the violence and chaos was worth it. From the look of things, all the ‘noise makers’ and perceived hardliners from both camps were rewarded. Will the burdened taxpayer dig deeper to furnish the lavish lifestyles of these re-invented politicians? Most of them have amassed substantial wealth, yet we will make them richer.

Much as we are told the appointments were based on regional balance, they came as an anti-climax. The saving grace was an effort to include more women, but one would also have expected a woman deputy prime minister for real gender balance.

Then again, we have to look on the brighter side of life. After the events of the last three months, this isn’t too high a price for peace.

Many finally slept soundly on Sunday night. We must never again go through such uncertainty. It was too much... images of helpless children, looking up to their parents for answers they could not provide. Questions as to why Baba So-and-so attacked them yet they used to play with his children. Why they were suddenly rendered paupers, sleeping in tents and depending on handouts. They could not get answers as to why it was wrong to belong to their tribes. Or why some of their peers were robbed of their innocence by violent strangers. We can live with a bloated Cabinet for now, if it will help fast-track the healing process.


ibaki and Raila deserve a pat on the back for choosing to embrace
peace and following Dr Kofi Annan’s cue to ignore their respective hardliners. If they had relied on their lieutenants, the dithering would have continued to eternity.

When the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission of Kenya (CKRC) went round collecting ‘Wanjiku’s’ views in 2001, she expressed disaffection with an overbearing presidential system that had been abused by successive regimes.

Wananchi wanted exeutive power shared. They also wanted greater accountability and to be consulted on governance.

Acting on the people’s views, CKRC further proposed that ministers should be appointed from outside Parliament. In this way, they would have a degree of professionalism and devote all their time to work. Members of Parliament, on the other hand, would devote themselves to Parliament and their constituencies.

The CKRC also wanted the number of ministers limited to 18, to streamline Government and save costs. These proposals might be worth exploring in future. Bloated does not translate into efficient.

Centres of power

For now, we want the ministers to get down to work and behave as if they were not politicians. And, being too aware of the dangers of two centres of power, we want to see the functions of the President and his Prime Minister as more consultative and facilitative.

They must make this coalition work, for real this time. They tried in 2002 under Narc and swept to power. But things fell apart in 2005.

We do not want our hopes raised only to be dampened. We want the euphoria to last this time. We expect a new Constitution soon, but for now, we must live like there is no tomorrow — making the best of what we have.

Call me a romantic but I know it can be done.

The writer is The Standard’s Chief Sub-editor, Weekend Editions

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