Macharia Gaitho: Jostling to succeed Kibaki an example of acute myopia

IT WAS PROBABLY ONLY BY chance that the hybrid we have in place became known as the Grand Coalition instead of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

I don’t know whether this has something do with the selection last year of our famous wildebeest migration as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but we seem to have an affinity for all things GNU.

The creature President Kibaki cobbled together in the middle of his first term in an effort to keep at bay rebellious elements within the then governing coalition was a GNU.

Now as the President’s political camp jumps hither and thither like a headless chicken, some fellows have crafted their own GNU, the Grand National Union, in what is becoming an increasingly comic series of disjointed manoeuvres in the bid to have a footing come 2012.

I am not quite sure what the new GNU is supposed to be about, but it reflects the utter confusion in President Kibaki’s backyard as succession politics comes to the fore and every little grouping starts looking out for its own survival.

The President wants PNU, put together as a coalition of parties for the express purpose of securing his re-election in 2007, transformed into a united political party.

He failed with a move to unite the original Narc in a similar fashion five years ago, and there is little chance now that the PNU affiliate parties will agree to dissolve. If anything, they are all busy looking towards securing their positions post-Kibaki.

Hence Ms Martha Karua striking out on her own with Narc Kenya; Mr Musikari Kombo in Ford Kenya still signalling a determination to remain independent; Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri and others scampering towards the new GNU, and even President Kibaki’s own ‘‘original’’ party, the DP, indicating through its present leader, Joseph Munyao, that its wants to remain intact.

The source of everything seems to be the very early jostling for the Kibaki succession. There are indications that the President and some of his close advisors are trying to manage the process, but some are beginning to see the Head of State as largely irrelevant to shaping the future dispensation.

President Kibaki might not personally care too much as he serves out his final term, but it is apparent there are many around him who live in mortal dread of life without one of their own at the helm.

And here their limited thinking focuses not on how PNU, Narc Kenya, GNU or any of the other mutations can secure power, but how their region, Central Kenya, can remain in power.
They ignore the first unwritten rule of Kenyan politics: There must be some rotation at State House.

PRESIDENT KENYATTA COULD NOT be succeeded by a Kikuyu and neither could President Moi be succeeded by a Kalenjin.

President Kibaki was extremely fortunate to win himself a second term, probably with some sleight of hand, after having succeeded in turning most ethnic constituencies solidly against the Kikuyu. Anyone who imagines now that Kenyans would elect another Kikuyu to succeed him come 2012 must be on Cloud-Cuckooland.


I always assumed that Prof Samson Ongeri was of advanced education. After all that professorship must have come from somewhere, and the man actually taught at university – medicine, no less.

And his medicine was the real thing, unlike that practised by the myriad ‘professors’ and ‘doctors’ in the classified pages who promise to cure you of cancer, Aids and every other disease known to humankind.

But when I heard the good proof in his capacity as Education minister give us his two-cents worth on the secondary school unrest, I wondered.

Anyway, what Prof Ongeri uttered is wholly understandable. There is something about our brand of politics that infects everybody who enters the field. It is a great leveller, and sooner or later, there is nothing to tell apart the most learned and polished of the lot from the lout of extremely modest education and even less refinement who somehow made it to the august House.

I have lost count of the number of creature comforts of this day and age that the minister blames for unrest in schools, but he is clearly flailing out very wildly, and in the entirely wrong direction.

He should be looking at systemic failure in the management of our public schools.

Mobile phones and entertainment systems, obviously, might not be desirable where they will cause distraction in a school environment, but they cannot be the cause of strikes.

If that kind of ossified thinking were to prevail, then somebody will soon start advocating for a return to the stone age and a ban on all modern “luxuries” everywhere and not just in schools.

One poser for the minister: The unrest is almost exclusively in public schools where a Spartan and harsh existence is the norm, unlike in the high-class private schools where luxuries and modern conveniences are taken for granted.

Any lesson there, Mr Minister?

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