Zim must not fall into same trap as Kenya
The recent Kenyan general election offers a clear example of the double standards of the West. To have a clearer picture we should compare the reaction of Britain and America and their imperialist allies with that of previous elections in Zimbabwe. Even before the Americans had heard comment from observers on the ground, they had already congratulated Mwai Kibaki on his victory.
The right-about-turn soon after when the Americans unashamedly withdrew their congratulatory remarks shows how these imperialists take a fixed position well in advance with regard to outcomes of elections in the Third World.
When President Mugabe won the last presidential election in 2002, there were no congratulatory messages from the West. In fact, the results were dismissed as not a true reflection of the will of Zimbabweans. This was despite credible observers’ views that the elections were not only free and fair but also transparent after the introduction of Sadc election guidelines. But then the major consideration of the West was whether the views of the Zimbabwean electorate tallied with theirs.
After Raila Odinga disputed the results of the presidential polls, diplomacy initiated by the West quickly took centre stage. This is why Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon was quick to point out that Kenya would not be suspended from the Commonwealth despite the bloodbath that followed the elections. This is in stark contrast with Zimbabwe which was suspended from the Commonwealth over allegations that the peaceful 2002 presidential election was flawed, although credible observer missions had declared the poll free and fair.
In Zimbabwe once the opposition disputed the 2002 presidential results, simply because they had been soundly beaten, Britain and her allies quickly swallowed their unsubstantiated claims, hook, line and sinker.Democracy as defined by the West is very different from our concept of the same ideology.
To the West democratic elections are those in which the party which seeks to promote the interests of imperialists wins.Because the Zanu-PF party introduced the land reform programme which seeks to promote the interests of indigenous people, if the party wins an election, then the poll is not democratic. What hogwash!
What the West should realise, and fast for that matter, is that they cannot impose their thinking on an electorate that can identify a party that seeks to serve their interests. The introduction of sanctions to bring misery will only strengthen the resolve of this electorate. These are the people who form the majority of voters in Third World countries which have suffered many years of exploitation by their former colonisers.
The West and their weapons of mass misinformation in the form of CNN, Sky News and the BBC have gone overdrive in trying to destroy the image of Zanu-PF.Let’s just imagine what has happened in Kenya, where hundreds of people were slaughtered following the disputed results, had been in Zimbabwe, what would have been the reaction of Britain and America?
We know what we see on the faces of these imperialists are crocodile tears. Their interests are superior to the lives of Kenyan blacks. One word which would definitely not be flying around is "diplomacy". If a handful of Zimbabweans were to die during post-election violence words and phrases like "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" would be the order of the day.
To Britain it wouldn’t matter who was responsible for the violence. Even if it were opposition instigated all the blame would be laid at the feet of Zanu-PF.
The Kenya example should once more make Zimbabwe value the significance of the Unity Accord between Zanu and PF-Zapu. The exchange of fatal blows on ethnic grounds between Odinga’s Luos and Kibaki’s Kikuyus is a sad result of disunity caused by tribalism. In two months’ time Zimbabweans go to the polls to elect their leaders. No doubt, if the blood-letting in Kenya happened here, it would put us in a position Britain will find as delicious to attack. This must not be allowed.
Let’s vote and accept the will of the Zimbabwean electorate and ignore that of Mr George Bush and Mr Gordon Brown through their surrogates.
Last Thursday's presidential election results raise concerns that Kenya's politics will be increasingly unstable in 2008, writes Gamal Nkrumah
What lies in store for Kenya after the unexpected drama of the country's knife-edge presidential poll? Kenya's political horizons are fast darkening. After the credibility of the tallying process came into doubt, the storms will rumble on in the weeks ahead. As Al-Ahram Weekly went to press, the death toll stood at 300. Thousands were rendered homeless.
Pandemonium and political uncertainty now stalk the land. The election results may fuel concerns about the future of the democratic process in Kenya. The Kenyan National Electoral Commission announced that the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was the winner. Opposition leader, Ralia Odinga, 62, pronounced the election results fraudulent, null and void. Soon after the election results were announced, violence erupted in several cities across the country -- Bungoma, Busia, Eldoret, Kisumu and the national capital Nairobi and chaos ensued.
Indeed, Kenyan democracy is a matter, quite literally, of life and death. Rioters took to the streets looting shops and burning cars. In a country where poverty and unemployment are rife and rampant corruption is the order of the day, voters and politicians alike were preoccupied with these challenges in the run-up to the elections. Gross domestic product per capita is a mere $640, even though Kenya is the economic powerhouse of East Africa.
The 14 million voters of Kenya are divided along ethnic lines. President Kibaki garnered 4,584,721 votes, while Raila Odinga, the chief opposition figure, secured 4,352,993 votes.
Raw politics are likely to overwhelm Kibaki's second term in office. Worse, Kenya's economic upswing now looks doubtful. An outright recession is still unlikely, unless political unrest continues unabated. Kenya's poorer neighbours will also feel the pinch, which is why it is imperative that Kenya pulls itself together. If it fails to do so in the months ahead, it will pull the rest of East Africa down with it.
The sparring between Kibaki and Odinga made for an entertaining spectacle during the campaigning. Now that bloodshed tarnished the image of Kenyan democracy, the 76-year-old president would have to jockey among his numerous would-be-heirs for reinstating and rehabilitating the once vibrant and upbeat nature of Kenyan democracy. The more embattled Kibaki becomes, the less chances he will have to turn things around and advance the cause of Kenyan democracy, whose course will be determined during the coming months. Even with Kibaki at the helm, real change could be in the air.
Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement must also play a prominent role. The fact that Odinga rejected the results of the presidential poll, staged a rival swearing-in ceremony and called for a one-million protest in Nairobi, augurs ill.
Voter turnout was reported to be an improbable 115 per cent in one constituency. The politics of ethnicity ruined the course of Kenyan democracy. Kibaki is a Kikuyu from central Kenya. Odinga, on the other hand, is a Luo from western Kenya. The 210 constituencies represented different ethnic and tribal groups. There were reports of political violence in western parts of the country and in the capital Nairobi, which soon spread to the coastal areas and other parts of the country and exploded into widespread rioting.
Running neck-and-neck, Odinga was critical of the unpopular reforms enacted by the Kibaki government. After the results were announced by the Electoral Commission, Odinga was derided by his detractors for being a sore looser. Kibaki sounded more conciliatory. This was the "time for healing and reconciliation", said the Kenyan president soon after he was sworn in for a second term in office.
The ruling Party of National Unity has suffered in the past from divided leadership. When Kibaki won a landslide victory that landed him in office in 1992, there was unsurpassed and unprecedented optimism in the country. Kenyans were fed up with the then ruling Kenyan African National Union and the country's then president Daniel Arap Moi. The National Rainbow Coalition headed by Kibaki was swept to power.
Among Kibaki's close associates at the time was Odinga himself. The two men later fell out. A dramatic turn of events took place, and ethnic politics became all the rage. The drama featured hotly contested presidential and parliamentary elections. But, there was little ideological discourse. Indeed, both Odinga and Kibaki had very similar socio-economic platforms and agendas. Both vowed to stamp out corruption, fight unemployment and reduce poverty, but they were both vague as to exactly how they were to achieve their goals.
Odinga does not cling fiercely to the leftist policies of yesteryear. His father, the legendary Oginga Odinga, was a militant socialist who vehemently opposed the capitalist orientation of Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta. Odinga, the son, however, is not as radically-inclined as his father. He runs the lucrative engineering firm, Spectra International, and is most definitely not a socialist.
Yet, the fact that the Americans immediately proclaimed that all Kenyans should accept the verdict of the people and support President Kibaki's triumph indicates that the United States was not entirely impartial in the poll.
In contrast stands a new, younger and more radical opposition, with its roots in the marginalised western extremities of the country. Kibaki scored well in the Kikuyu heartlands of central Kenya and in Nairobi, even though the opposition disputes that Nairobi fell to Kibaki's lot. Kibaki won in the provinces of Central Kenya, Nairobi, the Eastern Province and the ethnic Somali Northeastern Kenya. Oginga, on the other hand, won over the provinces of the Rift Valley, the Muslim-dominated Swahili Coast, as well as his ethnic Luo and other related kin in the western provinces of Nyanza and Western Kenya.
Last Thursday's closely-fought elections reveal the depth of the ethnic divide. The Kikuyu are the largest ethnic group in Kenya, the Luo are the second largest. This, perhaps, explains the special status accorded President Kibaki. The Kikuyu, however, appeared to be fractured politically with some prominent Kikuyu being senior members of the opposition. Similarly, some non-Kikuyu hold prominent positions in government circles. This, however, does not hide the sad fact that Kenyan politics is animated by ethnic affiliation rather than by ideological orientation.
The economic hardships faced by most Kenyans also aroused fiery partisan passions during the election campaigns. Many Kenyans are suspicious of the market-based reforms of the Kibaki government. Still, the main parties all appear to favour unchecked powers for domestic corporations and multinationals. Adherence to the policy stipulations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are likely to determine the nature and pace of economic progress, even though the people of Kenya are not particularly happy with the IMF policies.
To divert attention from such challenges, both leading presidential contenders toyed with the tribal card. This neat, if brazen, ploy turned out to have ugly results. Kenya's National Police Chief Major General Hussein Ali warned that no person would be permitted to "take the law into his or her own hands."
Kenya has long tried hard to court foreign investors. It is not particularly noted for the fabled mineral wealth of some other African nations, nor does it have oil. But this fuel-starved nation is blessed with rich agricultural land and unique tourist attractions. However, the country's 5.6 per cent economic growth rate cannot keep up with the employment demands of its swelling population. Political instability will inevitably render Kenya even more vulnerable to the global credit crunch.
National elections were held in Kenya on December 27, 2007; the results of the Presidential election were announced three days later.
This analysis argues that the calls for peace and reconciliation by the political and religious leaders will remain hollow until there are efforts to break from the recursive processes of looting, extra judicial killings, rape and violation of women, and general low respect for African lives.
This short commentary on the elections and the aftermath seeks to introduce a unified emancipatory approach: liberating humanity from the mechanical, competitive, and individualistic constraints of western philosophy, and re-unifying Kenyans with each other, the Earth, and spirituality. This analysis draws from fractal theory and seeks to place Africans as human beings at the center of the analysis. Fractal theory is founded on aspects of the African knowledge system and breaks the old tribal narratives that refer to Africans as sub humans needing Civilization, Christianity and Commerce.
Those who condemn the post-election violence in Kenya have failed to condemn the traditions of killings and economic terrorism in Kenya. It should be stated clearly that using African women as guinea pigs for western pharmaceuticals is just as outrageous as burning innocent women and children in churches. Rape and violation of women, and exploitation of the poor and of jobless youth have been overlooked by the commentators who focus on one component of the matrix of exploitation in Kenya -- ethnicity.
In tandem with much of the current discourse on fractal theory, this commentary is addressed to progressive intellectuals from Kenya and calls for a revolutionary paradigmatic transformation- one that is intrinsic to African knowledge systems and can be witnessed in practice in the everyday activities of African life. Revolutionary transformations are necessary to break from the processes that have been unleashed in Kenya and East Africa since British colonialism and the British Gulag. This break requires revolutionary ideas in Kenya, along with revolutionary leaders and new forms of political organization. Thus far, neo-liberal capitalism and neo-liberal democratic organizations, along with the focus on party organization have created leaders who organize for political power. These leaders are not even concerned about forming lasting political parties. Far more profound transformations are required in Kenya, beyond the winning of elections. However, until new ideas and new leaders emerge, the current struggles will serve to educate the poor on the limitations of the old politics and ethnic alliances that privilege sections of the Kenyan capitalist class.
The analysis is presented as a drama of three acts. The first act was played out in the form of the election campaign. The second act involved the drama after the announcement of the results and the violent reactions from all sections of the society. The third act of this drama continues to unfold with the call for a fractal analysis that will place revolutionary transformation as the central question on the political agenda in Kenya and East Africa.
Act One – The Struggles over the election and the campaign for the Presidency.
The Scene: Kenya had been the epi- center of imperial domination in East Africa from the period of British colonialism. Caroline Elkins in the book, Britain’s Gulag, has documented for posterity the extreme violence and murders bequeathed to the Kenyan political culture by the British government. At independence in December 1963, Britain handed over power to people who, in essence, agreed to act as junior partners with British capitalism in Eastern and Central Africa. This partnership included an acceptance by the ruling class in Kenya of the western European forms of land ownership that stated that Africans had to be modernized from their “tribal” and “backward” ways. For forty years, Kenya was presented as a success story where a parasitic middle class and a thriving Nairobi Stock Exchange (composed of foreign capital) sought to prove that capitalism could take root in Africa.
Act 1 Scene Two of this drama took the form of a campaign for the tenth Parliament of Kenya. The drama of the struggle for change in Kenya was played out before the world in the form of an electoral struggle that gripped the society for many months. At the end of Scene Two one of the principal props of this drama – the local media - reported that the results were like a “blood bath.” The headline screamed “ energized voters sweep out Vice President, Cabinet Ministers and seasoned politicians as wind of change blows across the country.” But the newspapers were not yet aware of the implications of using language like “blood bath” in their headlines. Every one awaited the final results of the news of who would be President. The results were being delayed while the votes were being cooked. As news of the parliamentary routing of the incumbent President and his allies in the Party of National Unity (PNU) splashed on the streets, on the screens and on text messages while the principal actors and actresses of the drama, the people of Kenya, sought spontaneous actions to ensure that they were not silenced by the power brokers who had placed themselves at the head of the movement for change. These central actors and actresses (wananchi) had enthusiastically participated in the election campaign articulating their demand for peace, reconstruction and transformation of Kenyan society.
By the time of the third scene of this drama, those from the den of thieves around the incumbent Mwai Kibaki sought to silence the media. In order for this scene to be played out without an audience, international observers and the media (both national and international) were ejected from Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) election center at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. The Chairperson of the ECK went to a small room and announced the results of the elections naming Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the election. Three days later, the same chairperson of the ECK said in the media that he was not sure if Kibaki won the elections.
Earlier in the drama Raila Odinga’s team of regional barons and aspiring capitalists argued that the true results of the elections showed that Raila Odinga had been chosen by the majority of the main players to be the leading man on the Kenyan stage. How was it possible for his Movement to win over one hundred seats in the Parliament (when Kibaki’s den of thieves had won less than thirty parliamentary seats) and still lose the Presidency? Local and foreign observers cried foul. The elections had been rigged. Ballot boxes had been stuffed. Results were being announced that did not correspond to the votes from the constituencies. The integrity of the process was flawed. These voices were soon drowned out by the might and power of those with strategic control over the military and media sections of the performance. Neo-liberal politics include rigging, so that the international observers used ‘measured’ language of “irregularities,” “anomalies” and “weighty issues” to conceal the reality of outright theft. Raila Odinga termed the process a “civilian coup.” But international capital became confused, because, after all the precedent of election rigging in Florida,U.S.A in 2000 had given the green light to electoral fraud internationally.
The Swearing in of President Kibaki
Act One Scene Three of this drama was performed within the guarded confines of State House where parastatal executives, mostly defeated cabinet members and a small section of the media were invited. In this scene, Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as the Third President of the Republic of Kenya. The stage and setting of this scene was markedly different from the previous swearing in at the Uhuru Park (in Nairobi) where an enthusiastic audience had cheered on the President on December 30, 2002. The 2007 swearing in scene had to be played out without the audience because the principal actors and actresses did not endorse this new act. Minutes after the announcement of the victory of Kibaki, there were spontaneous demonstrations all over the country, especially the urban areas. Popular outrage at the theft of the elections brought violence and the killings of innocent civilians in Kakamega, Kisumu, Mombassa, Nairobi, Nakuru and other centers. The police killed innocent demonstrators as the foreign media portrayed the demonstrations in ethnic terms. The gendered, class and ethnic dimensions of the opposition to Kibaki began to be played out in the poor communities that were called slums, but the media focused on one dimension, the ethnic alienation of the poor and exploited.
Hundreds of dead brought home the reality that the elections and vote counting were simply one site of struggle in the quest to break the old politics of exploitation and dehumanization in Kenya. However, because so much of the old politics of exploitation had been masked by the politicization of ethnicity, poor members of the Kikuyu nationality were targeted in some communities, with the killings in Eldoret bringing home the long traditions of ethnic cleaning that had been going on in this region during the Moi regime. The same media neglected to report that poor Kalenjin also torched the home of former President Arap Moi.
Would there be a break from this recursive process of killing of the poor?
Odinga and members of the Pentagon condemned the killings of members of a particular ethnic group but the anger was too deep for the youths to listen. Unfortunately, the ODM did not have structures to properly mobilize the youths away from looting.
Raila Odinga and the Orange Democratic Movement
In order to avert the possible war that could emanate from this new act of the drama there was the need for fresh if not revolutionary ideas to harness the pent up energies of the people for change. The radicalization of Kenyan politics had merged with the anti- globalization forces internationally to the point where in 2007 Kenya hosted the World Social Forum. The radical demands of the Bamako appeal of the Africa Social Forum (for profound social, economic and gender transformations in Africa) could not be carried forward by the old Non Governmental Organization elements allied with international NGO’s from Western Europe. What the World Social Forum had demonstrated was the reality that new revolutionary ideas with new revolutionary forms of organization were needed to realize the goals and aspirations and appeal of the Africa social forum. Raila Odinga and his group of regional ethnic barons had tapped into the radical sentiments of the youth all across the ethnic divisions. Calling his team, the Pentagon, Odinga mobilized the popular discourses about youth, women and disabled to speak about ‘poverty eradication’ and “corruption.”
Absent from the platform of the Orange Democratic Movement was a clear program for reconstruction and transformation. Raila Odinga had been a major political actor on the Kenyan stage for four decades. He had participated in every major political party and formation since his father, Odinga Odinga had emerged as the opponent of the Kenyan form of neo-colonialism. The 2007 elections exposed the reality that there were no real political parties in Kenya. Leaders on all sides were not interested in building a lasting movement for change. They were interested in parties as electoral vehicles to capture state power. There were more than 300 parties registered in Kenya and over 117 participated in the elections in December 2007.
Local and international writers who earlier had been voices for the poor enthusiastically supported the enactment of the first scene of the drama (the election and voting). Some of these writers moaned and groaned that the script had been changed when those who controlled the state machinery unleashed violence against the poor. In order to unleash state violence against the poor, the Minister of Internal Affairs banned the broadcast of live images. The state also toyed with the idea of banning SMS messaging in Kenya. But Kenyans simply tuned in to the international media to confirm what they knew, that the recursive processes of killings and revenge were spiraling out of control.
Without enacting an official state of emergency (in the fear of further hurting the tourist industry) the majority of poor Kenyans lived under curfew-like conditions as the military, the police, and General Service Units were deployed all over the country and new forms of censorship were implemented. The political leadership that stole the elections had to be careful with the use of the police, military and the intelligence services in so far as the divisions within the security forces challenged the authority of those who stole the elections. Raila Odinga sought to tap into this division of the coercive forces by calling a demonstration of a million Kenyans to oppose the stolen election results.
The International media and international capital
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and other cultural voices of imperial power were from the outset one of the props of this drama. The British were particularly active because the interests of British capitalism were very much an important part of narrative of the drama. During Act 1 scenes two and three, this foreign prop had been condemning the “irregularities’” and “anomalies” of the drama and carried the press statements of the International Observers of the European Union and the Commonwealth. The head of the European Union observer mission issued a statement declaring that, “the Presidential poll lacks credibility and an independent audit should be instituted to rectify things.”
This clear statement led the US government to reverse its earlier recognition of Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the Presidential elections. There had been concern in Washington over the future of Kenya in so far as the US authorities sought to mobilize Kenyans in the war against terrorism. During the period of Kibaki, Kenyan citizens were shipped out of the country to be tried as terrorists under the US policy of kidnapping, called rendition. The ODM signed a memorandum of understanding with the Islamic community during the election campaign and members of the ODM condemned the rendering of Kenyan citizens by the government. It was argued that if these citizens acted contrary to Kenyan law, they should be tried under Kenyan law.
The propaganda war had been virulent and since Raila Odinga held the moral and political high ground, sections of the international media began to retreat from endorsement of the electoral coup. However, the occupation of the moral high ground was shaky. Would the government and opposition be more concerned with the lives of the poor than with political power?
In the face of the absence of resolute moral leadership to condemn these killings, the international media had a field day portraying the struggles for democracy in Kenya as primitive “tribal” violence.
Act Two – Stalemate and brinkmanship in politics
Raila Odinga and his team called the Pentagon had entered the drama seeking to play on the terms of those who had seized power from the time of colonialism. The very naming of his team as the ‘Pentagon’ had shown an insensitivity to the international revulsion against military symbols. The five leaders of the Pentagon were, (i) Vice Presidential running mate M Mudavadi, (ii) Charity Ngilu, (iii) William Ruto, (iv) Bilal Najib and (v) Joseph Nyagah. These regional ethnic barons had emerged from multiple political formations and many had family and business linkages with capitalists inside and outside of the government. During the campaign these regional leaders had campaigned on a pledge to devolve power from central government. The poor believed this would bring power closer to the village and communities so that health care facilities, water supply systems, road and pathways in the villages, education, sanitation and other services could be delivered so that the conditions of exploitation are ameliorated. These localized services were interpreted by various local communities as job creation avenues for the jobless youths. For the regional barons, the devolution debate was carried out to ensure easier access to the treasury. The word ‘majimbo’ re- emerged in the political vocabulary of Kenya to reignite the memory of the alliance between the ‘home guards’ and settlers at the dawn of independence.
Youths all across Kenya had transcended the ethnic identification and wanted real change in the quality of life in the society.
Entering the drama without a real party and without a real organ to bring the majority of the actors and actresses to the center of the drama, it was easy for the team around Mwai Kibaki to stall so that the spontaneous anger would peter out. Would the Orange Democratic Revolution learn the lessons of popular power in the streets of the Ukraine Orange Revolution and shake the old power with new bases of alternative power? This provided the setting for the central aspect of the drama, the stand off between the forces of orange and the forces of the defeated power. Kibaki came across as an imprisoned leader, surrounded by politicians and financiers who argued that Kibaki must enter any negotiation from a position of strength. Odinga countered that negotiations could only begin when Kibaki accepted that the elections had been stolen. The hardening of positions ratcheted up the tensions in the country as regionally countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and the Southern Sudan began to feel the effects of the shutdown of the transportation system in Kenya.
Mwai Kibaki and the neo-liberal regime in Kenya
Mwai Kibaki had been associated with the ruling class in Kenya for over fifty years. Starting his career as a representative of Shell Oil Company in Kampala, Uganda, Kibaki moved from an academic position at Makerere University to the top echelons of the independent government of Kenya after independence. In the book, The Reds and the Blacks, William Atwood, then-US ambassador, had identified Kibaki as one of the steady ‘reformers” who would guarantee the interests of foreign capital. Kibaki emerged as a stable force in the ruling circles serving both Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi as Minister of Finance. It was under the leadership of Kenyatta and Moi that the forms of theft by the ruling elements in Kenya were refined. Extra judicial killings and accidental deaths of prominent trade union leaders and politicians were papered over by the foreign press that labeled Kenya a ‘stable’ democracy.
Arap Moi and international capital.
After the death of Kenyatta in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi moved decisively to cement an alliance of foreign capitalists and local political careerists to loot the society and spread divisions and ethnic hatred among the poor and oppressed. British capitalism had been the dominant force in Kenya with British companies such as Unilever, Finlays, GSK, Vodafone, Barclays and Standard Bank becoming leading names on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Britain had made a deal with the independence leaders and awarded a small sum to enhance this new class of African yeoman farmers to join the British settlers in the exploitation of Kenya and indeed, East Africa. Molo, in the Rift Valley (one of the constituencies at the center of the row over the rigged elections), represented one of the places where Kikuyu settlers had been relocated after independence.
Moi during his Presidency remained at the center of the alliance between British capitalists, Asian capitalists and Kikuyu entrepreneurs from Central Province. By the time of the electoral defeat of Moi in December 2002, the Moi family and cronies in the ruling party, Kenya African National Union (KANU) had become junior capitalists in the game of exploitation. It was under the leadership of Moi that imperialism used Kenya as a base to subvert African independence. A report commissioned by the Kibaki administration, (called the Kroll Report), had named Moi and his sons as billionaires with assets in banks in Britain, Switzerland, South Africa, Namibia, the Cayman Islands and Brunei. The 110-page report by the international risk consultancy Kroll alleged that relatives and associates of former President Moi siphoned off more than £1bn of government money. This documentation placed the Mois on a par with Africa's other great politicians-cum-looters such as Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and Nigeria's Sani Abacha. The Kroll report of the levels of theft when presented to the Kibaki government was never acted on. The alliance between Moi and Kibaki forces became clearer during the election campaign when Moi and his sons fiercely campaigned for the re –election of President Kibaki. The sons of Moi were decisively defeated in the elections.
The documentation of the level of theft by Moi was exposed before the public in what to became known as the Goldenberg scandal. This scandal brought to the fore the alliance between Moi, KANU and Asian capitalists in Kenya. These capitalists had looted the country with such impunity that Kamlesh Mdami Pattni (an Asian capitalist named in the Goldenberg scandal) took over one party Kenda to contest the 2007 elections.
Prior to the 1992 multi-party struggles, Kibaki had sought to distance himself from this group of capitalists. These were the capitalists involved in settler agriculture, manufacturing, transport, services, old forms of banking, insurance, real estate, construction and engineering and the health and education sectors. These capitalists from inside and outside the political arena provided cover for looters all across Eastern Africa. In the Kenyan economy money from oil in the Sudan (especially Southern Sudan), commercial interests in Somalia, gold and diamond dealers from Rwanda, Burundi and the Eastern Congo circulated with the resources from the exploited Kenyan working poor so that in the past ten years there has been a growth of the Kenyan economy. Felicia Kabunga, wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICRT) for crimes of genocide in Rwanda was the kind of looter and money spinner who found safe haven among the money launderers in Kenya.
Kibaki and the rise of new capitalists.
Although Mwai Kbaki had campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket in 2002, his tenure as President of Kenya was marked by an explosion of new schemes for accumulation. The rise of the telecommunications, information technology and banking sectors boomed with new enterprises such as Equity Bank and a number of communications companies (Safaricom, Flashcom, Telecom etc) rivaling the old capitalists. The floating of new shares n the form on an Initial Public Offer (IPO) for the Company, Safarcom, became a central question in the election campaign in so far as those who got access to the shares at the time of the issuing of the IPO became instant millionaires.
The Kibaki government was in the main dominated by elements who formed a company called MEGA (a regrouping of the old Gema Gikuyu, Embu, Meru Association), and through Transcentury Corporation had elevated themselves to be the among the leading capitalists in Kenya. This group presented a program called Vision 2030 where Kenya would become the leading capitalist country in Africa, becoming the Singapore of Africa. Control of the governmental apparatus was crucial for Vision 2030.
Space does not allow for an elaboration of the individuals of this capitalist clique and their place in the interpenetrating directorates of the Nairobi Stock Exchange. What is significant is that the names of the capitalists and politicians of Trancentury figured in the scandal of corruption that rocked the government of Mai Kibaki. This was termed the Anglo-leasing scandal which involved awarding huge government contracts to bogus companies. One insider, John Githongo, exposed the scandal and repaired to Britain.
No money from the Anglo leasing scandal had been recovered before the elections and although European and US governments made noises about corruption there were no moves to repatriate the stolen wealth back to Kenya. These scandals were very much a part of the election campaign. Three of the four ministers who resigned after the Anglo Leasing scandal was exposed had been reinstated by Kibaki. These ministers along with twenty other ministers lost their parliamentary seats in the December 2007 elections.
The poor of Kenya had used the ballot to send a message to the capitalists in Kenya but those who stole billions of dollars from the Kenyan Treasury were not above stealing an election.
The real test in Kenyan politics was whether the team called the Pentagon was serious about changing the political culture of theft, looting and storing billions of dollars in foreign banks. The people of Kenya had voted for change. Was the Orange Democratic Movement a movement for change or a movement for political power? This was the outstanding question as the cast and the writers got ready for Act three of the drama of the struggle for democracy.
Act 3. A Revolutionary situation without revolutionary ideas and real revolutionaries.
Because the drama is being played out it is not possible to make a presentation of the last act of this drama. This is the act where the peoples of Kenya are torn between two traditions. These are the traditions of the freedom fighters for independence and the traditions of violence, looting and the low respect for African life. The youths of Kenya have been brought up in the period of the aftermath of the end of apartheid and the defeat of Mobutism. These youths have risen above the politicization of ethnicity and along with progressive women want to end the rape and violation of women. These youths have been heard to say that Kenya is in the midst of a liberation war.
While the consciousness of the youth may be high with the thought of a long term struggle, there are very few revolutionary leaders and a poverty of revolutionary ideas in Kenya. If anything, the poorer youths are being mobilized into counter-revolutionary violence where poor and oppressed people burn and kill each other. This was the lesson of the killings, burning and massacre in the Rift Valley. Counter-revolutionary violence of the Rwanda genocidal form lay just below the surface and the same politicians who gave refuge to genocidaires from Rwanda are not above fomenting genocidal violence among the poor. The media images of marauding youths with pangas provide the necessary imagery to represent to the world another version of African savagery. This same media will not prominently carry the news that poor peasants from the home area of Danieal Arap Moi burnt his house to the ground. The prospect of real class warfare in Kenya frightens both the government and the opposition so there is a delicate effort to manage the crisis so that the forms of capital accumulation can return to the business pages rather than the front pages.
Raila Odinga and the Orange Democratic movement are now caught between the aspirations of the regional capitalists of the ‘Pentagon’ and the demand for real change across Kenya. The post election mayhem is a clear demonstration that the ODM did not sufficiently engage their followers on new ideas transcending ethnicity and patriarchy. This demand for democratic change in Kenya will require new forms of organization beyond electoral politics and new ideas about the value of African lives. This requires a break with the European ideation systems that promote capitalism as democracy and genocide as progress.
* Horace Campbell is Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University