Tuesday, September 26, 2017

With All Political Vitriol Spewed, Kenya at High Risk of Implosion
Kenya Daily Nation

Anti-electoral agency protestors scamper after tear gas canisters were hurled at them outside IEBC offices at Anniversary Towers, Nairobi, on September 26, 2017. We are too, too close to an implosion to risk any more of that. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Summary
The checks and balances are a lot stronger than, say, 10 years ago but there is some way to go.
The country is dangerously polarised and fatigued, which, is a lethal cocktail.


There is an increasing number of antagonistic and inflammatory comments by some leaders that risk taking us back to the dark and awful days of the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

Let’s put the political war of words aside for a moment and give a broad brush of some key background factors.

Kenya has had a very tough year so far and the going looks as if it will get tougher in the months ahead.

Many are feeling increasingly worn down by what has afflicted them so far.


The country has been in the grips of one of the worst droughts in years.

This has pushed up prices, especially for food.

For many, their standard of living has declined markedly.

Other factors, such as the slowdown in commercial activity, have just made life harder for many.


Last, but not least, the inordinately long and exhaustive political campaigns have exacted an additional toll on the population.

The period between now and the repeat presidential election is going to seem like one of the longest times in living memory.

What is in no doubt is that it is going to do several things, including testing and stretching the physical and social fabric of this country and its citizens to limits we have not seen before.


Remember also, these backdrop factors — such as the tough conditions due to drought, inflation and so on — are unlikely to ease until we have benefited from an improvement in the overall environment, including a generous period of rainfall.

That will not be this side of the election, however. Indeed, any recovery is unlikely to be this year.

Let us remind ourselves where we have come from and also the significant progress we have made in several areas.

Thirty years ago, we were in the throes of fighting for multiparty democracy after years of one-party rule.

It came five years later, but at a price.


The country felt the tremors of the 2007 election and its aftermath and there was a time when the nation was far, far too close to the chasm of chaos, civil disorder and violence.

One only need look at the figures to see how the economy fell off the cliff and remained in the doldrums.

The economic growth rate was a shade under seven per cent in 2007.

It plummeted to just above zero in 2008. Recovery only really set in from 2010 onwards.


That is a very high price to pay when translated into lost job opportunities and basic social needs and facilities.

Among other things, the 2010 Constitution cemented our overall recovery.

One of the many other things it did was define clearly the separation of powers among the arms of government.

It has given a springboard for institutions to stand on their own two feet and function without corrosive political or external interference.

The checks and balances are a lot stronger than, say, 10 years ago but there is some way to go.


Tribalism, one of the banes of this country, was brought down several notches.

But a lot of what has been achieved runs the risk of crashing down and, with it, peace, sobriety and social harmony.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s wild talk against Supreme Court judges, calling them crooks and threatening to trim their powers, is very dangerous politics.

His Nasa rival Raila Odinga’s volley of conditions on the IEBC before an election that is scheduled in four weeks is asking the impossible.


Yes, being critical of and making reasonable demands on our institutions is healthy and acceptable, but it is not what we have been witnessing.

It has also fanned the demon of crude, naked tribalism or as others politely refer to as “ethnic profiling”.

Overt tribalism is very, very obvious wherever one goes these days.

The country is dangerously polarised and fatigued, which, on top of what we have been through so far this year, is a lethal cocktail.

We are too, too close to an implosion to risk any more of that.

Tone down guys and please think of the country first and foremost.

Mr Shaw is a public policy and economic analyst. robshaw298@gmail.com.

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