Mirror image …in Kenya

When your Eyewitness wants to take a comparative look at our fractured politics, he merely looks across the Atlantic to Africa. But it shouldn’t be surprising when you remember we were all colonised by the Europeans, and reacted to oppression in similar ways for hundreds of years.
It’s a kind of evolution, ain’t it? Reacting to similar conditions leads to similar societies in all their manifestations. While you may think that we’re unique with our “land of six peoples”, each of the colonised African countries had at least dozens of tribes, but they were forced to think of themselves as a “nation” – just because some European rulers arbitrarily drew lines across Africa and declared pieces of real estate “countries”!! Like us, they were states but not nations, and had to deal with all the confusion that entails for over sixty years.
One of them, Kenya, is the powerhouse of East Africa. It has some 47 tribes, but about three major ones. Like us, democratic elections forced politicians to use available cleavages to mobilise votes – and as such, the parties became dominated by tribal, or what we’d call “ethnic”, divisions. Like us, after a long period of one-party, “big man” rule, they’ve been struggling to bring their politics into a more peaceful mode. After their 2007 elections, which were disputed and more than 1200 persons died in clashes between the competing parties, they made some radical constitutional changes. Among other things, these forced cooperation between the parties, and also introduced some strict rules on the electoral machinery to ensure transparency in the counting of votes. Sounds familiar??
But no matter how you change the rules, it’s up to the politicians to follow those rules, ain’t it?? And that’s where the problem lies. In Kenya, two of the oldest political competitors in the struggle for independence were Jomo Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga – and they represented the two major tribes. It was their supporters, led by their sons Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, who created the mayhem in 2007. But after the 2017 elections, which Kenyatta’s party won, he fell out with his deputy, William Ruto, and brought in his old rival Odinga!!
Now you’d think that this is a good thing, no? Sorta like Ali bringing in Norton and kicking out Phillips!! But it was a coalition of the old politics that intended to continue with the corruption that had plagued Kenya. Ruto had to run on his own, and he billed the election as “the dynasties” versus the “hustlers” – with him “hustling” like most Kenyans!! He’s just won the elections, but his Opponent’s screaming fraud. Even though all the 47,000 SOPs were posted electronically!! The Elections Commission became split at the announcement!!
Sounds familiar??

…in Guyana?
Some (well meaning) Guyanese think that if our two competing parties – which go back to our independence struggle, like in Kenya – were to come together, all our troubles would be over!!! That’s a thought that’s gained traction over the years – and has been tried in several other divided societies. But the trouble we see unfolding in Kenya isn’t unique – and in fact becomes the rule. When the Government and the Opposition become one, it’s like putting one big cat to guard the milk!! The corruption increases exponentially!!
Isn’t this what happened in next-door Suriname?? Why’d you think they’re bankrupt, in the hands of the IMF, and citizens are marching in the streets?? For years, their coalition Governments have had to hire supporters in such numbers that practically the entire country’s on the Government’s payroll!! Ain’t no way to run a country!!
And so, let Kenya and Malaysia and so many other places that tried this “Executive Power sharing” be object lessons for us!!
Ain’t no quick fixes.

…in crime
What’s coming out with the cop claiming the upper ranks of the GPF have some rotten apples surely hasn’t surprised any Guyanese.
After encountering corruption daily, they know the fish starts stinking at the head!!