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The Art of Intransigence. - Comments (0)

Printer Friendly Category: Applied,Articles,Behind the Lines,Venture in Africa
Author: John Malone
Date: 9th April, 2008 @ 06:34:25 AM

Watching events in Kenya develop and transpire by way of reading news reports may be convenient and interesting, but it’s not fun, nor does it present an accurate picture. One must read far more between the lines of print than in them.

For instance, today I read of an account where US Ambassador Michael Rannerger met with George Saitoti at the Serena Hotel, and that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice made phjone calls to President Kibail and Raila Odinga, I had to laugh just a little to myself. US officials are once again on the end of the artful dodge of Kenyan politicians, who have known for years that time is always on their side, and that outwardly formal and polite intransigence will always pay handsome rewards.

I note well, for instance, that Ranneberger is NOT meeting anyone in the late evening at the Windsor Hotel on the way to Thika, nor is he meeting anyone at Nairobi’s down-scale but frequented Ngong Hills Hotel on Ngong Road where the true politics are done with Tuskers and Newcastles. Somehow I just can’t picture Ranneberger carrying a mutungi of “Obama” (beer) in hand, pouring out 50ml beer shots for thirsty Kenyan politicians.

The US and other Western interests are now the dog being wagged by the tail as they can only watch the Kibaki regime attempt to implement what can only be described as a hastily thrown-together and illegal scheme of bribery to satisfy greedy politicians, called – almost laughingly – “the grand coalition.”

The Kenya government is secure in the knowledge that, so far, rigging the December elections is paying dividends. Economicall, despite short-term stress, this is a boom to Kenya’s economy. Since it was clear that Kibaki’s government would be recognized and stay entrenched, the Kenya shilling has evaluated over 21% against the US dollar. The government’s Safaricom divestiture is moving along, bringing huge amounts of foreign capital into the country – indeed, 21% more than it would have eight weeks ago! Western governments are falling all over themselves to stimulate Kenya’s tourism industry, additional aid funds are flowing into the country to pay for the damages caused by ODM-led rioting.

Who cares if petrol prices in outlying cities in Uganda spiked to $28 per gallon?

Politically, Kibaki has secured acknowledgment from Odinga that he is the legitimate president of Kenya, and has strengthened his real coalition which leads the government. Every day the government runs with only 17 cabinet members is one more day that people realize there only needs to be 17 cabinet memebers. Amos Wako is still the Attorney general. George Saitoti is still prominent in the government. Corrupt politicians are without any penalties. All the friends of Kibaki – called the Mount Kenya Mafia – are all still in place, and eating if not vomitting.

And Lucy Kibaki still has kept Ida Odinga from moving into a any deluxe government digs.

How is this accomplished? Why the same way it has ever been accomplished. By outlasting and outwaiting the “ugly Americans” who themselves are lame ducks.

US Ambassador Ranneberger has one more year, and then will be replaced by another Pollyanna just like him, who has no true grasp on kenyan realities. Secretary Rice will be replaced by someone in the US like Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who has already shown himself gutless in matters like Kenya. President Bush may be replaced by a Luo, but if not, he will be replaced by a US military tool who will not veer from the US course in Africa, which is all about the Africom Command at the expense of any other thing whatsoever.

But here is where the “art” of intransigence comes in. It is not possible to simply rudely resist the powers that be. Mugabe proved that. This is where Kenyan politicians excel. Because they must be able to say, “We have done everything you said, but we are having this small problem.”

I can hear it now. Condoleeza Rice calls President Kibaki. She asks a very pressing question he doesn’t want to answer. Suddenly he begins to say, “Hello? Hello?? Is there anyone on this line? Hello?” He bangs the phone. Of course, Secretary Rice cannot dial her own phone. Someone has to remake the call. Five minutes pass. The call resumes. Polite introductions begin again. Where were we? The context is lost. Kibaki now charms her. “Yes, Miss Secretary, we have done everything you said, and we would have named the cabinet this weekend, but you see the necessary documents were misplaced, and the secretary responsible for them was upcountry for the weekend, and now we are on course, and will most certainly locate these files, and all will be well.”

Rice has seven months to the November elections. She’s not going to be able to do anything after that. One must think like a Kenyan politician now. It’s now April, and we cannot count this month, so actually, it’s May. So that’s six months to outlast the Americans. No problem. It can take longer than six months to post a letter to them, and they will surely understand. After all, it takes US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger six months to return a phone call he promised in a week to ten days!

Small issues will be in the way.
“You see, there is the resettlement project in the Rift Valley, and that will take time.”
“I thought you were going to help us?”
“Won’t you please release the $500 Million we need to implement this agreement you required us to make?”
“Thank you so much for lifting the travel ban. It will be nice once again for our tour industry to tell American visitors, ‘Jambo, bwana!'”
“For the people to be peaceful, we shall need some food assistance.”
“What about the secondary school initiative? Please help us with our infrastructure projects.”

Kenyans themselves are also sick and tired of this whole ordeal, and are back working. They know there will not be an honest government until these old same politicians are buried, if then. William Ruto is just another Nicholas Biwott to them. Saitoti is still Saitoti. Wako is Wako. Odinga is his father. Kibaki is a poor imitation of Moi. Kalonzo is marginalized. Soon Paul Muite – who is Sir Charles Njo Njo of Kibeteshire anyway – will find his way back into power.

All the rookie PM’s will soon enough have their Mercedes, Landcruisers, and or Landrovers anyway, and their free fuel allocations, and they will be happy. Soon enough, ODM will run out of money to get unrest going in its popular areas, and will concede on the ministry issue enough that it will morph into something else, like the duties of the assitant prime ministres. Ida Odinga will be able to decorate her new upscale Prime minister lodging, which is a small price to pay to marginalize Raila for the next 5 years.

Make that four years.

Tempus fugit.

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