Are Western Kenya Leaders Easy Prey?

Published on 22nd July 2015

The genesis of the current rebellion by Western Kenya leaders begun when Uhuru Kenyatta’s government bailed Mumias Sugar company with Shs1 billion. This is when leaders like the ODM Secretary General started to signal an exit from the opposition.

What our leaders fail to understand is this: it’s the responsibility of any government to bail out struggling companies to enable them regain fiscal soundness.  What President Uhuru Kenyatta did to Mumias Sugar Company isn’t a favour but his responsibility as Kenya’s chief executive; charged with the responsibilities of ensuring that  public and private sector interests are safeguarded since they affect the livelihood of wananchi.

In United States, the Obama administration has spent a whopping $51 billion tax payers’ money to bail out General Motors. Legislators from his party do not use the bailout as a stamping pad for political mileage. In fact, State of Michigan which is the headquarters of General Motors has a republican governor; Mr. Rick Snyder. I’m sure if Michigan was one of the Kenyan counties, this governor would have defected to the ruling Jubilee coalition.

Therefore, the Luyia leaders gyrating about the Mumias Sugar bailout by sanitizing Uhuru with praises should remember that the 1 billion extended to the company is a loan that the Mumias farmers must eventually pay. I’m sure we have legislators from the Luyia community who understand economics and fiscal management in government.

Politics aside, the challenges of Mumias Sugar Company are multiple: corruption, mismanagement and importation of cheap sugar by cartels who are actually know by the Jubilee government. That is why it’s appalling to see leaders like Senator Bony Khalwale and MP Ababu Namwamba, who are key opposition figures shying away from these realities.

Truly, what does Khalwale expect the 3 Cord principals to do about Governor Evans Kidero who is suspected to have been involved in the financial meltdown of Mumias Sugar Company? Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula do not work with the judiciary or the anti-corruption commission; which has so far been disbanded by Parliament. They have got no prosecutorial powers. Their role as opposition leaders is purely oversight and nothing else.

What Western leaders needs to do is to ascertain what President Uhuru’s plans are after bailing out the cash-strapped firm. Effective leaders always focus on treating the symptoms as well as laying out contingency plans to prevent another negative occurrence. By now, the President would have moved a notch higher to ask Khalwale to provide all the evidence he has so that Governor Evans Kidero can face justice in a court of law. Otherwise, as things stand, politics has taken centre stage.

At first I thought Khalwale’s move was noble when he took Kidero head-on. I now doubt how genuine he is in the whole saga which has taken a political dimension by many leaders in the Luyia community.

In the last election, Kenyans saw how Mudavadi used scapegoats to quit ODM during the nomination stage. Presently, the vibrant Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba does not sound like the Secretary of the largest political Party in Kenya. His words speak volumes about his commitment to the Orange Democratic Movement.

Is it a common trend that elected leaders from Western Kenya are easily compromised through monetary enticements (Ugali) from the top echelons of political power? After the 1992 general election, almost all the 7 MPs elected on the Ford Asili Party of Kenneth Matiba from Western Kenya defected back to Kanu purportedly due to monetary rewards from former President Moi. In fact, the late Martin Shikuku was left standing like a skeleton when the likes of Benjamin Magwaga and the late Nichodemus Khaniri and others defected to Kanu. This pattern of defection characterized by the quest to be part of government is a barbaric gesture in a multiparty democracy.

Leaders are elected to serve through articulating issues that matter to their constituents. The current dispensation is even rosy since development can be realized in a constituency even when a legislator is in the opposition. Many Kenyans are shocked to see a Moi political trend of 20 years ago being perpetuated by elected leaders.

The ‘Ugali’ talk is denting the image of many elected leaders in the country. Even under the current dispensation where funds are devolved to the counties, majority of our leaders especially from the opposition are still manacled in the old Kanu days where leaders sung the Nyayo chorus to realize development in their regions.

When Ababu Namwamba employs double speak, Khalwale appears to capitalize on the Mumias scandal to score political points and former Speaker Kenneth Marende talks like he has undergone a complete metamorphosis, we have to conclude that something is extremely wrong with our leaders. Marende’s Solomonic wisdom as Speaker in the last Parliament earned him a lot of admirers. It’s sad that even the former UDF Party leader Musalia Mudavadi cannot effectively define what he is up to as a political leader in Kenya. His pronouncement are wobbly.

It’s high time our political leaders cultivated solid principles if they expect Kenyans to take them seriously.

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
Social Justice Commentator
New Jersey, USA

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