Kenya: political consequences of the BBI verdict
With the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) dealing a fatal blow to justice, major political players are grappling with the implications of the court’s ruling ahead of the 2022 election.
The strategic teams for those who have shown interest in the top seat and President Uhuru Kenyatta had largely placed hope in an enlarged executive as a bargaining chip to signal power sharing in coalition negotiations or to attract more ‘allies.
Had the Court of Appeal been able to accommodate the appeal of President Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga, it could have potentially increased the number of executive positions, making it easier for presidential candidates to build broad coalitions. .
President Kenyatta tried to bring together the former Prime Minister and the leaders of the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) – Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper, Musalia Mudavadi of the Amani National Congress, Moses Wetang’ula of Ford-Kenya and Gideon Moi of Kanu – with the aim of approaching next year’s united poll.
It appeared that at the center of discussions between President Kenyatta and former members of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) during the two meetings held in Mombasa, there was that with the BBI, they could use it to develop a pre-election pact that could be used in a fight with Vice President William Ruto.
Now that there are no more slots to share between the leaders, political experts argue that Mr. Kenyatta’s political dream of uniting the opposition leaders has been complicated.
“Uhuru (President Kenyatta) has time to concentrate on his work and leave the aspiring presidents to fend for themselves. It is not in his best interests to campaign openly for anyone,” said Prof Macharia Munene from United States International University-Africa. (USIU).
ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula told the Sunday Nation that now that there were no more additional seats to share, they would use available Cabinet slots to forge their alliance, saying OKA would propose a power-sharing formula.
“OKA did not depend entirely on the BBI to build a coalition, it is the ODM team and they failed. For us, we are going to share the government equally and the coalition is to share the government,” he said. said Mr. Savula.
Mount Kenya has become a battleground region that could tip the State House 2022 candidacy for any serious presidential candidate.
With the departure of President Kenyatta in 2022, the region has not presented any “serious” candidate as in the past to succeed the head of state. It turns out to be a crucial region for DP Ruto, former prime minister, Mr. Musyoka and the boss of the ANC. BBI had gifts that the president had to use to control his political foundation.
The eight counties of Mount Kenya – Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Kiambu have 4.1 million votes, which was the catalyst for the Jubilee at State House and the DP and its enemy politicians have stepped up incursions into the region to succeed Kenyatta.
In the BBI, the region was to obtain 11 additional constituencies – Kiambu (6), Meru (2), Embu (1), Kirinyaga (1) and Murang’a (1), which was seen as additional resources at the grassroots . level.
With these constituencies, President Kenyatta was to lock out his former MP and hand over the votes to the coalition he was trying to form before 2022.
While issuing land titles to the coast last month, the head of state said the BBI would ensure more resources devolved to counties and fair representation in parliament, but with the end of the BBI, analysts say it will be a daunting task in Mr. Kenyatta to consolidate his political stronghold of Central.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said that with the end of the BBI their expectations must be redefined even though DP allies in the region say their goal is still the economy.
“To get Mount Kenya to vote now we need to ensure that their government will provide what BBI was supposed to provide us: one man, one vote, one shilling, devolution of more resources and presence to the government,” Mr. Critic of DP Ruto, told Sunday Nation.
“The main players in the succession policy would all have used an expanded framework in the BBI deal as a bargaining chip. Each of them loses in this decision. The fact that the BBI is no longer there actually deprives the President Kenyatta of what would have been a major tool in shaping his role in succession, ”argued Professor Ken Oluoch, head of the political science department at Moi University.
Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi, who was a member of the panel of experts that drafted the 2010 constitution, argues that the BBI was a winning strategy for Mr Kenyatta, the former prime minister and the leaders of the OKA.
“We thought BBI had an advantage for Raila than Ruto who was on the outskirts from the start,” he said.
Javas Bigambo, political scientist, thinks that without a BBI referendum, the head of state will not be able to easily influence his succession and risks finding himself between a rock and a hard place.
“Without the changes proposed by the BBI, he will find himself in a Mwai Kibaki situation, where he clandestinely influences state resources for his preferred candidates, or he will find himself in a Mzee Moi situation where he openly supports a candidate and awaits the political consequences ”, explains Mr. Bigambo.
In 2017, NASA directors agreed to share Cabinet and other government posts if they won the general election.
The first 11 Cabinet positions were to be shared between two each, but the former prime minister allowed three at this first stage.
Of these, the principals were given carte blanche to appoint their own people to the 22-man Cabinet.
In the deal, the ODM, which produced the presidential candidate, would automatically also get Finance, Defense and Education records with some of Kenya’s most influential ministries.
Mr. Musyoka’s wiper, in addition to obtaining the post of vice-president, was also entitled to the files of the ministries of foreign affairs and transport.
The ANC of Mr. Mudavadi, who was to be the first cabinet secretary responsible for coordinating the government, was to obtain the files of the interior and agriculture.
Ford-Kenya, led by Mr. Wetang’ula, was to obtain the infrastructure and energy files, with the senator from Bungoma being appointed CS deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs. Chama Cha Mashinani, headed by former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto, was to be appointed CS Deputy Prime Minister in charge of governance and social sector protection and head the Ministries of Devolution and Health.
Mr Odinga, who had identified with the BBI, said he would not challenge the Supreme Court ruling as his allies say they will use the 2017 formula to craft their next political decision.
According to Suna East Junet Mohamed, who was the co-chair of the BBI secretariat, they offered additional seats not necessarily for power sharing, but to achieve inclusiveness, noting that the ODM was prepared for any eventuality.
“What we were looking for was to create an enabling environment, an inclusive government. When Jubilee came to power in 2013 and 2017, many parts of the country felt excluded and saw him as a duopoly,” he said. said Mr. Mohammed.
“We had prepared for both scenarios – the current situation and that of an expanded executive. Now that it’s not there, we’ll go back to our factory setting of having a president and a deputy. I already know who will be our vice-president, we are ready to leave because we have a war to win in August 2022 “, he added.
Mr. Mohamed said the formula they were about to use would accommodate everyone and all parties would be happy with it.
“When we were at NASA everyone was comfortable – one was president and the other was running mate, the others were fine. We will come back to how we did it in 2017,” he said. he declared.
Senator Makueni Mutula Kilonzo, who is also vice chairman of Wiper, told the Sunday Nation that the OKA is for inclusive government without necessarily creating leadership positions, adding that they were prepared after the senior decision. Court in May.
“None of us had any illusions that BBI would go ahead after the High Court decision and the 12-month election deadline set out in Article 89. There was no plan to do so. distribute five positions to OKA. I have not participated in such discussions. The alliance is about inclusive government that does not necessarily create leadership positions, “he said.
DP Ruto lieutenants, who had opposed the constitutional amendments, also argue that if passed, the BBI would have been a welcome addition to their campaign matrix, which has recently seen divisions as affiliated parties demand to retain their own identity even if they support the DP for the highest position.
“The BBI was a good document for politicians because it creates positions for them, but bad for the wananchi. This is because it enlarges the executive branch and parliament, making Kenya pay billions more per year, ”Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said in a statement. interview yesterday adding that the decision justified their position from the start.
Former CS sportsman Rashid Echesa said it was too early to rule Western out of demanding a running mate position in the hustler movement, arguing that if they manage to consolidate it behind the DP they will have high stakes for the job.
Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, however, revealed that their numbers could keep them out of the running mat.