Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Important Messages From Kenya

Important messages from Kenya

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:00
Stephen Mpofu

The recent swearing in of Kenya’s President set the template for a political and economic renaissance in that country and elsewhere in Africa.

The above must have been the most likely and poignant message to a divisive West from the heavy presence of African leaders and representatives of progressive countries elsewhere, all whether friends of Africa at the inauguration in Nairobi of Kenya’s fourth president Uhuru Kenyatta whose father, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first president of that East African country. President Kenyatta certainly re-enforced Africa’s anger at the West for arrogating unto itself the role of “policeman of the world” with a tendency to impose leaders of their choice on other countries. Witness the bankrolling of leaders the imperialists would dearly want to see in power in Zimbabwe among other African countries, including Kenya itself.

But while condemning countries with a penchant for exercising dominion over others, which he did not name, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was more blatant, slamming the International Criminal Court of being a tool used by Western countries to impose leaders in Africa.

President Museveni stopped short of mentioning a move the ICC is pursuing as an agent of Western imperialism to try Mr Kenyatta for alleged crimes against humanity arising from political violence in Kenya’s previous elections. It remains to be seen whether the ICC in The Hague will pursue its charges even after Mr Kenyatta assumed his new role as head of state.

Ironically and this seems to endorse a Western holier than thou existential nature leaders of some Western countries whose soldiers have massacred civilians in Africa and in the Middle East have themselves not been brought for trial at The Hague for crimes against humanity. Another important message in President Kenyatta’s inaugural speech had the ring of a national reconciliation similar to that declared by Cde Robert Mugabe when being inaugurated as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe at Independence in 1980. The armed struggle had secured the country from a foreign ruling culture which had divided the people along racial and political lines that, if left to continue, would not augur well for a new beginning for a free nation.

No doubt, therefore, President Mugabe, who was among the heads of state and government at the inaugural ceremony, must have been delighted to hear Kenyatta declaring that his government would strive to create peace and unity in East Africa’s largest economy.

The Kenyan leader promised “to lead all Kenyans: those who voted for me and those who voted for our competitors’’, adding that “achieving peace and unity will be the goal of my government”.

In essence, President Kenyatta implicitly called on his defeated opponents and former prime minister Raila Odinga, who reportedly boycotted Kenyatta’s installation as head of state by going to South Africa, on holiday, and his supporters to take the outstretched hand of reconciliation extended to them and let bygones be bygones by embarking on a new journey of social and economic development of their country as one united force. Unity would be critical to the development programme President Kenyatta must have had the prudence to realise.

He said that in his first 100 days in office his government will embark on a programme that includes the scrapping of maternity fees, access to free health services and school computerisation. It goes without saying that for these things to succeed all Kenyans, regardless of their political persuasions, will have to run with the government’s initiatives.

However, by embarking on the all-important question of land reform as well as on equitable distribution of Kenya’s natural resources President Kenyatta’s government is likely to run into ugly roadblocks planted in the way by some if not all of the governments in the West. This is because any land reform will require repossession of land in the hands of whites, mainly of British stock, since Kenya, like Zimbabwe, had been a British colony with a huge population of white settler farmers.

The Kenyan government might also find it necessary to expose blacks “owning land” as fronts of companies run by foreigners, an unmasking process also likely to incur the wrath of Western countries in sympathy with their kith. The upshot of such an exercise might well result in economic sanctions similar to those imposed on Zimbabwe for her land reform programme being applied to try to exact regime change in Kenya.

But the interests of the people of Kenya, like those of the people of Zimbabwe, far outweigh the obscene interests and machinations of foreign powers that seek political strangleholds in Africa in order to exploit the resources of poor nations.

In this regard, African leaders should rally their unqualified support behind Kenyatta and his government in the same way that they demonstrated a oneness with the people of Kenya at the installation of Kenyatta. There was also an equally important message for Zimbabweans from the inaugural ceremony with regards to the behaviour expected of civilised people at elections. Vice-President William Ruto said: “Never again will the people of this country shed political blood or destroy property on account of political competition. Political competition in our country shall henceforth be about ideas and manifestos.” These profound words of virtue should ring true in the ears of every Zimbabwean, political leader or follower, as our nation prepares for harmonised elections scheduled for the end of June.

Stephen Mpofu is former editor of The Sunday Mail and The Chronicle.

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