Mwai Kibaki son, Jimmy Kibaki, enters Kenyan politics (Guardian UK)

The eldest son of Kenya's controversial president, Mwai Kibaki, is entering politics in an apparent attempt to salvage his father's legacy after the 2007 elections descended into ethnic violence, severely damaging the country's reputation as a democracy.

Jimmy Kibaki, a wealthy 46-year-old businessman, campaigned for his father before the chaotic 2007 poll but has otherwise kept a low profile until now. His decision to launch a nationwide youth initiative called Simama Kenya – Stand up Kenya – has been widely interpreted as a move to create a third presidential dynasty in the country.

The sons of Kenya's first two leaders, Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi, entered parliament in 2002 occupying their fathers' old constituency seats. President Kibaki, 78, is due to retire in 2012 having served two terms.

In an interview with the Guardian, Jimmy Kibaki said he had not yet made a decision about whether to run for parliament. "People will automatically assume this is all about succession," said Jimmy Kibaki. "This is about ending tribalism and encouraging the emergence of a meritocracy and new young leaders."

Though Jimmy Kibaki's reputation is unsullied his commitment to the ordinary youth has been questioned because of his age and elite upbringing. The National Youth Convention released a statement describing Simama Kenya as a "cheap political outfit" that was trying to hijack its agenda.

There is also a widespread feeling that presidential dynasties exist mainly to protest the family interests - the Kenyattas and Mois are among the richest families in Kenya, and not all through hard work. Uhuru Kenyatta is currently finance minister and deputy prime minister, and while Gideon Moi was voted out in 2007 he is plotting a return. Both are former schoolmates of Jimmy Kibaki.

But Jimmy Kibaki offered another motivation for entering the public arena - rescuing the reputation of his father, who never gives media interviews due to his "very low opinion of journalists". While insisting that the 2007 presidential poll result was fair - a conclusion local and international observers did not reach - Jimmy Kibaki said that bad press over the election fiasco and corruption scandals was one of the main reasons that his father has never been on a state visit to the UK, despite the colonial links and having studied at the London School of Economics.

"I'm concerned about my father's legacy. He was very hurt last year by comparisons made in the UK between him and Robert Mugabe. I'm not saying he has had no failures, but there have been more successes than failures."

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One Response to Mwai Kibaki son, Jimmy Kibaki, enters Kenyan politics (Guardian UK)

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of attending university with Jimmy and must say that he is one of the most ethical and honest individuals I have ever known. He is an asset to Kenya and its future.