The events that have swept
The use of ethnicity as a means of politically organizing the subordinate, for the benefit of the ruling elite, and the use of repression as a means to sustain an elite privilege that is predicated upon the use of ethnicity, cannot however hide the fact that Kenya is a deeply stratified society. Class dynamics must be understood if the political economy of recent events are to be interpreted. Dominant political groups have used politics as a means of plundering the country, and thus enriching themselves, turning themselves into a indigenous ruling class. Kleptocracy runs deep in this elite. A principal exhibit: the Goldenberg scandal of the early 1990s, which witnessed, possibly, 10 % of the country’s GDP being extorted by members of the elite through questionable exports of gold and diamonds, a scam for which no member of the ruling class has ever been prosecuted. A second exhibit: the Anglo Leasing affair, in which government money was paid to companies that did not exist, or was paid to companies at dramatically over-inflated prices, diverting millions of dollars to shady businessmen who in turn passed on money to corrupt senior politicians. Repression and kleptocracy have been tolerated by the West, as
No wonder the citizens of
That this cabal would seek to rig the presidential elections is thus not surprising, although the blatant character of it has shocked many, not least of all me. As is clear, the outcome of the parliamentary elections was a disaster for the President. The President’s Party of National Unity, which includes remnants of Moi’s former Kenyan African National Union party, lost the vote, and half the President’s cabinet, including some very nasty people such as Nicholas Biwott, Moody Awori, and Gideon Moi, son of the former President, lost their seats. Kibaki and his entourage therefore put into play a long-standing plan to rig the Presidential election results by delaying the results from
Raila Odinga, the Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM) candidate for president, and a long-standing opponent of the one-party rule of former President Moi, expected the vote to be rigged; indeed, the ODM engaged in some irregularities as well. Reliable accounts suggest that the ODM had a pre-existing plan to react to the announcement of a Kibaki victory by calling on a campaign of civil disobedience. Thus, on the ground, there has been some encouragement of young hoodlums rampaging through the streets of Kisumu, Mombassa, Eldoret and the
The venality of
Indeed, what that repression would entail has already been witnessed in the past few days; the security services have been responsible for a significant share of the violence. What is not clear, however, is how ordinary Kenyans would respond. Previously, politically-motivated ethnic conflict occurred in rural areas removed from the capital. What is now different is that conflict has moved full-scale into the slums of
Cote d’Ivorie has tragically demonstrated that the myth of stability can quickly degenerate into civil war when the demons of ethnicity that have been used by the ruling elite turn on the political choices that have been made by that very elite. The flame has been lit, and while political leaders dither in the safety of their sanctuary it is only ordinary Kenyans who can put it out. One can only hope that that is what they do.