I doubt if some of you have met Kenya president, Mwai Kibaki, face to face since he became president. I have on two occasions. And since I used to cover him in the 1980’s when he was VP, I can tell you there’s hardly a hint of the old Kibaki: President Kibaki is a distant shell of his olden days. His memory is too brief, his speech slow and slurred, and his attention too short to cover deliberate discussion.
So, his “development success” that some of you praise is an anomaly, for Kibaki does not have the capacity to follow through any orders, let alone intricate issues like development plans.
Then, what explains the miraculous strides that Kenya has experienced under his watch, you might ask? Great question that can be answered in hundred ways.
Here is my brief explanation for Kenya’s economic success under Kibaki:
1. The end of Moi era freed Kenyans to pursue their business dreams. They were no longer subjected to corruptive bureaucracy pr being sidelined for political reasons in order to operate business.
2. Akin to the above, Kenyans who had amassed wealth under Moi saw it wise to invest openly and make quick impression of their business success in order to avoid being linked to the fallen regime, or being legally pursued for sources of their wealth.
3. Kibaki came to power too weakened from the auto accident that he suffered during the campaign to assume office with “proper power.” He was forced to rely heavily on a clique of especially moneyed, proficient political operatives who had gained management experience under the previous regimes, made lots of money that they wanted to protect, and desired to change the business climate to compensate for lost opportunities after their fallout with Moi. The head prefect of this group was Muchuki.
4. Kibaki came to power through a myriad of political groups. This naturally sapped his independence, and forced him to lead through deals. Partly incapacitated for most of his first term, Kibaki was dependant on the calls made by his assistants.
In short, WBK, Kibaki’s era has created the best economic performance in East Africa because neither he nor his party holds the kind of power over the country that Museveni and NRM have in Uganda, or Kikwete and CCM have in Tz.
Some people’s argument is torturing. If Kibaki was the most successful finance minister in Kenya – I can only infer that they’ve reached this conclusion by how Kenya’s economy performed when he was finance minister – then why don’t we credit the finance ministers who have served under him for the current strides Kenya is experiencing in its economic development? Alternatively, if we were to attribute the current Kenya’s economic success to Kibaki the president, wouldn’t it behove you to also credit the president under whom Kibaki served as finance minister?
In clear appraisal of Kibaki presidency, I’m sure history will be kinder to him than his two predecessors in areas of good management of productive governance issues: law and order, corruption, equitable distribution of national offices, etc. When it comes to economic management, he fairs better than Moi because Kibaki is not personally corrupt. He only employs corrupt people who happen to know how to run a government, drawing from their vast experience in civil service since independence.
Those who gained leadership experience from political offices joined Kibaki administration too estranged to work amicably. That perpetual mistrust among the coalition partners could not condone corruption, and that’s why his government is less corrupt than Moi’s.