Once known as the regions sleeping giant, the past two decades have exposed Kenya as a society that poorly ranks in the game of politics.
Kenya under late dictator Daniel Arap Moi isolated the coastal nation from its landlocked neighbours. From the 1980’s only smugglers and people under UNHCR would share information about Kenya.
News from Kenya in other regional newspapers usually carried stories of torture, detention; kidnaps and death at the hands of the notorious state secrete agencies that worked round the clock to maintain Moi in office.
A Nyayo House torture chamber was the most known building by people outside Kenya. Opposition figure Raila Odinga represents those that suffered cruelty extended to them inside this building.
Late Moi had inherited a very strong presidency as had been provided for and protected by the constitution by the founding President Jomo Kenyatta.
Political historians explain that the day President Moi walked out of office was unbelievable to millions of Kenyans.
At the end of 2002 Kenya voted for Mwai Kibaki as their third President since independence. He had however, served 10 years as Vice President under the Moi regime.
Intrigued by the excessive powers of the Institution of the presidency and other centralized formats that Moi used to run affairs of the state, President Kibaki engineered the drafting of a new constitution. President’s powers were chopped.
Kibaki’s constitutional politics may have been influenced by the Ugandan style of politics during his studies at Makerere University in Kampala.
It is under Kibaki that Kenya began surfacing as a politically growing society- more political news kept churning out from this country. It had become normal as politicians debated on the floor of parliament openly disagreeing with the president and not booking space in detention.
Parties formed coalitions and referendum was held. Protests on streets also became rampant as a way of expression-One would say; Kibaki is the doctor of Kenyan Politics.
The departure of Kibaki sealed what all Kenyans were waiting for- A president who serves only constitutional terms and leaves for others to takeover.
Indeed in April 2013 Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as fourth president of Kenya. One could say that the influence of Kibaki reforms on politics of Kenya may stay on much longer. For example the Jubilee Party to which Uhuru belongs, was founded in 2016, following the merger of 11 smaller parties.
Under President Uhuru, the powers of the institution of the president are being further chopped and distributed to other centres of government.
However, the politicians in Kenya seem very obsessed with powers of presidency because it is the centre of power. President Uhuru is determined to chop these powers further because the relationship between him and the deputy President William Ruto is an excellent case study.
The two men President Uhuru and his deputy Ruto are battling for the control of Jubilee Party following proposed changes to one of its top decision-making organs — the National Management Committee.
These changes were proposed by President Uhuru but Deputy President Ruto is not supportive of these moves. Ongoing political wrestling within the Jubilee party depicts a Kenya that has walked away from the tight and centralized style of management under President Moi.
“As Kenyans are focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, some shadowy characters are attempting to fraudulently institute illegal changes in officials of Jubilee party. As deputy party leader, I have alerted the registrar of the fraud. Party members should know that the matter is being handled,” Ruto tweeted.
A section of Jubilee party members consider actions by Uhuru as illegal and do not respect the party constitution.
“Any changes involving the party in any way must be sanctioned by the relevant party organs through a formal meeting convened and resolutions and passed. And, therefore, the purported changes to the membership of the National Management committee or any other organ of the party is illegal and fraudulent and affront to the values of the party,” a letter by legislators said.
However, the changes went on anyway as most Kenyans endured the COVID-19 stay home measures. Ruto had clearly planned his succession to the throne but Uhuru has thwarted all these selfish maneuvers.
Instead Uhuru in 2018 surprised Kenyans when he suddenly invited to state house his political nemesis Raila Odinga. After their talks, the two leaders shook hands before camera. This was an odd sight for many Kenyans it was baptized the Handshake.
After the Handshake at State house, the rift between President Uhuru and his deputy started growing. They move from pillar to post, broadcasting their anger at the turn of events in the country. It was always understood that Ruto would be Jubilee’s chosen successor to Uhuru in 2022.
Political pundits indicate that Uhuru wants to walk out leaving a very weak presidency with limited powers and the birth of Post of Prime Minister. Raila Odinga may assume the presidency while Uhuru becomes the first Prime Minister of Kenya.
Ruto seems to have noticed and admitted that he has been outwitted and the game is over.
At the height of Madaraka Day Celebrations, Uhuru and his Deputy Ruto were seen chatting for over 3-minutes at State House Nairobi. The two leaders dressed in matching ties elicited mixed reactions, Ruto seemingly having adopted a more reassuming tone in his speech, reiterating his support for the Head of State.