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Magesha Ngwiri: The season of blackmail is here!
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|Magesha Ngwiri: The season of blackmail is here! by Kenyans247(1): Sat 14, November, 2020 09:03am|
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The most astonishing thing about the BBI is the sheer amount of noise its mere mention has generated over time.
The BBI was a child of the handshake, and so it was natural that it would evoke immediate opposition from those unhappy with the potent gesture in the first place.
I must confess I have not been paying too much attention to all the shenanigans surrounding the Building Bridges Initiative or the antics of restless politicians.
Indeed, the last time I ever had anything to say about it was more than a year ago when a group of venerable task force members went around the country collecting people’s views on a nine-point agenda designed to bring the country back together after years of political discord.
Last month, the BBI report was presented to the President and, unexpectedly, the discord went up a notch higher, this time with different players.
The most astonishing thing about the BBI is the sheer amount of noise its mere mention has generated over time. Not only did it result in heightened suspicions among politicians, it has, for all practical purposes, succeeded in breaking Jubilee Party into two hostile factions.
Its conception was shrouded in mystery when the two erstwhile political adversaries, President Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga, decided to cement a new-found amity after the disputed 2017 election results that made the country almost ungovernable.
Many Kenyans, especially those who have always borne the brunt of post-election turmoil, welcomed the March 2018 Handshake between the two, regarding it as an inspired means of restoring placidity in the country’s restive politics, but one wing of the ruling party headed by Deputy President William Ruto did not see things that way; they regarded the handshake as a sinister plot by the “Deep State” to deny the DP the presidency in 2022. Apparently, nothing has happened so far to make them change their minds on that score.
The BBI was a child of the handshake, and so it was natural that it would evoke immediate opposition from those unhappy with the potent gesture in the first place. What ensued were shrill protests from people who did not have the faintest idea what they were opposing. Some opposed it because it was the fashionable thing to do, a typical knee-jerk reaction by pseudo-intellectual social media habitués, while others did it because of its association with Mr Odinga. Lost in the cacophony were the more objective assessments of how the BBI would benefit Kenyans.
Some people still believe that the report is specifically meant to harm Mr Ruto’s chances. However, their opposition has now been clothed in the “Hustlers” versus “Dynasties” mantra, because it has dawned on them that the creation of a few extra offices at the top may well favour whoever wins the presidency in 2022, and it could be their man. The joke is that a many ordinary people are taking sides without any idea why. Trust politicians to ensure this always happens.
Politicians who at long last realised there was no great danger to the Republic if the BBI report was approved in a referendum have reverted to a particularly revolting kind of delinquency. When a local daily came up with a banner headline earlier this week, “Season of Blackmail”, it succinctly summed up what is happening. Politicians from every corner of the republic are united in seeking special favours from an amended Constitution — some genuine, others extremely self-serving —with the understated or overtly expressed threat that if they don’t get what they want, they won’t support it.
Every politico-geographical region has its pet demands, many of which are impossible to fulfil even if the country’s economic health were more robust. Every unit of devolution and its overlords wants special consideration, lest it shoots down the BBI.
Senators want more money and more power, MCAs want more power and more money, while governors want more money and more say in how they run their counties. Quite neglected are the ostensible reasons for the proposed amendments to the supreme law—Wanjiku and her progeny. Is it any wonder the whole thing has turned into a circus?
When some BBI opponents accused its proponents of merely seeking to create jobs at the top for a few individuals and ethnic communities, they sounded like prophets of negativism. But, in light of what is happening today, they were perhaps right. The BBI is in danger of turning into a tool for use by the elite to benefit themselves.
Take, for instance, the demands made by governors, many of whom must go home in 2020. Can someone tell me why they should be bribed with hefty pensions and two vehicles that must be replaced every four years?
I don’t intend to be mean to governors whose demands are, in comparison to those of MPs, quite modest, but it is quite clear that leaders of all persuasion intend to support the BBI only if their own interests are met and not those of the suffering masses who have no means of making a decent living because the economy is in the doldrums. We are bang in the middle of the second wave of a killer pandemic and the same leaders should be thinking of how to alleviate the pain instead of jostling for space at the high table.
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