Political drama abound as Building Bridges Initiative reality unfolds

Friday, November 29th, 2019 00:00 |
Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege.

Hesbon Owilla

Political undertones between supporters and opponents of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) played out during the report’s launch at the Bomas of Kenya on Wednesday.  

The shortlived drama between the master of ceremonies Suna East MP Junet Mohamed and Senate majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen, gave it away. 

But politics in Kenya is more dramatic than Hollywood’s deadliest sitcoms, thus no supporter of any side should celebrate yet. 

Granted, a lot of what Kenyans  expected to be reflected in the BBI report seems not to be in the document. Those who expected electoral reforms and greater attention to the interest of the mwananchi are unsurprisingly underwhelmed.

The status quo has been maintained and the storyline seems to promise more drama—only that it is not clear who will be the hero or villain.

Thanks to the Internet and social media grapevine, lots of stories proliferated on what Kenyans expected to see in the proposal and the conversations before the release appear to have been hot air.

The expanded Executive via the creation of the posts of prime minister, two deputies, a leader of the opposition and the creation of a third tier of government that would have established regional premiers and regional assemblies seem to have morphed to a report that does not need a plebiscite. 

To put it in black and white, the report seems to have shied away from what many perceived as what ODM leader Raila Odinga wanted—a referendum—and leaned more onto Deputy President William Ruto’s Chatham House proposals. 

This interesting turn of events raises a number of questions, chief among them the fact that we are likely to have an expanded Executive without a referendum, a situation that will throw very key political figures off their safe political trajectories.

In fact, politicians who took premature position on issues for own personal political expediency are certainly sweating it out on the drawing board now. 

Look at it this way; an expanded Executive without the restructuring of the devolved system is going to unsettle two groups of individuals and the consequences will disorganise the political formations.

The first group is that of governors who banked on the BBI to give them a political lifeline by creating the third tier government, elevating them regional supremos. This group has to reassess its position. 

The movement of these governors and the resultant political formations will be dramatic. 

The other group is the one that was all out against the BBI and ready to use the possible referendum as a vehicle to either the State House or the powerful position of the official leader of opposition.

If the President and his allies are to traverse the country campaigning for the BBI, the likelihood of this group being side-lined is high and their problem is exacerbated by the fact that they will have nothing to oppose or rally the masses around because nothing is contested in the report as it is. 

But for the mwananchi, what we need to do is to ask ourselves; what is in it for us? It appears we never stopped to interrogate the politicians’ proclivity to bury the hatchet and move on.

The cliché has always been, in politics there are no permanent enemies, just changing interests. Yet our interests rarely feature when their interests bring them together. 

As the leaves are falling, we need to learn from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart  where Eneke the bird says “since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching”. —The writer is  a PhD candidate in political commodification

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