Who says a Prime Minister will have a cure for what ails Kenya?

Saturday January 13 2018

Nasa leaders boycott resist James Orengo

Nasa leaders at a press conference where they called for the boycott of some products on November 4, 2017. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MAGESHA NGWIRI
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During the festive season, I had a dream in which I overheard a senior Nasa member address the President as irreverently as usual: “Listen, Mr President, and I only call you President in quotes because we don’t recognise your legitimacy.

You stole our victory on August 8 last year, and we have the facts to prove it because we opened the servers. However, to show real leadership, you must initiate dialogue.

“If you don’t agree to do so, we shall swear in the people’s president and his deputy on January 30. We shall then form an alternative government complete with a Cabinet. After that, our people will demonstrate and resist. In the end, we may even secede, form a People’s Republic of Kenya, and leave the Mt Kenya region on its own. It’s your choice.” I woke up in a sweat only to discover it had been just a dream.

On matters political, I must confess, I’m a complete naïf. Nothing I read or hear these days seems to bear any logic, which is why I cannot understand the convoluted arguments that have been making the rounds.

DIALOGUE

It is difficult to see how, if you don’t recognise the president, you can then turn round and demand that he initiates dialogue.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a national conversation to fix our politics as long as it is done with motives that are not merely self-serving.

What is wrong is to seek such a dialogue with too many prior demands and pre-determined outcomes, especially when those demands are not only nebulous but also populist.

Nobody would seriously object to talks meant to bring about national healing. Ensuring that future elections are never rigged is a noble goal.

But to expect that your rival will voluntarily agree to a conversation in which he will be forced to shoot himself in the foot is patently ridiculous. It won’t happen.

It was not until last week that Nasa co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka spelled out what his Alliance wants during the proposed talks.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION

At least, and that is where Mr Musyoka differs from the rest of opposition leaders, he came up with a possible solution.

What this country needs, he said during a newspaper interview, is to go back to the Bomas Draft which was rejected more than a decade ago.

To recap, back in 2005, the Bomas Draft was the first attempt to make a new Constitution.

It had many features, most of them forward-looking, others, especially those relating to the Executive, quite curious. Among the latter was one in which there was to be a President elected directly by the people, who would then appoint a prime minister elected by Parliament on the strength of numbers. To assist him would be two deputy prime ministers.

What was strange was that in this so-called hybrid system, the prime minister, as head of government, would pick all Cabinet secretaries and chair all Cabinet meetings.

CONSTITUTIONAL MOARCH

The President would then sit above the fray like a constitutional monarch, unbothered by the hurly-burly of actual governance. Strangely, Nasa was to make the same recommendations 12 years later in its manifesto.

The ostensible reason for preferring this model was that it would lend itself to inclusivity, meaning that leadership at the top would be shared among many ethnic communities and not just two or three.

That would be a very attractive proposition even today were it not for the devil in the details.

Many people didn’t then, and still can’t, understand how a person can go through all the rigours of an election and then cede all the powers he sought to a person elected by a few hundred.

BOMAS IDEA

If Mr Musyoka and others think the Bomas idea is worth revisiting, they should either go all the way for a parliamentary system in which a prime minister elected by the people wields all the power and the President is nominated as a symbol of unity, or stick to a purely presidential system with all its imperfections. A hybrid system as proposed at Bomas is as nonsensical as it was 13 years ago.

In the meantime, Nasa leaders must shelve the idea of swearing in Mr Raila Odinga and Mr Musyoka as president and deputy of  . . . nothing! Such melodrama will not cure what ails this country, for the medicine will inevitably turn out to be worse than the disease.

Magesha Ngwiri is a consultant editor. [email protected]