If one understands the political process in Kenya beyond elections, individuals, political parties, politics of division and monetisation, one must also understand the state of the planet and Kenya’s place in it. Kenyans must understand the ongoing global economic, social, cultural, spiritual, and political crises. It is only by doing so that it will be clear to all of us that the current political impasse is bigger than both Ruto and Raila. The followers of Ruto and Raila fail to understand that both leaders are pawns of the global crises that I have mentioned. Just like the colonial-era Home Guard, both Ruto and Raila – and the national and international interests they represent – clearly do not rule in the interests of Kenya and Kenyans.
Changes in the global systems
One can clearly see that, objectively, the changes in the global systems since the financial crises (2002–2009, and continuing), COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and the instability of the dollar, have all brought about a new international order; the unipolar world has the makings of a multipolar world going forward. This new situation at the global level impinges on Kenya, Africa, and the Global South in many ways.
Specifically for Kenya, along with the Finance Bill/Act 2023 and the aggrandised powers of the Ruto government, the United States and the European Union are pressing hard for Kenya to give up all sense of political and economic independence. The very nature of the negotiations for the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) is such that Kenya is being called upon to sign the agreement without discussions in Kenya, excluding even the Kenyan “capitalist” classes – the private sector.
Katherine Tai’s press conference on why the trade minister was excluded from the discussions is only one sign of the exclusion of representatives of trade, finance, industry, telecommunications, and the working people of Kenya. US and EU interests are subverting Articles 1(1) and (2) and 10 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which decree that Kenyans are the basis of sovereign power; their participation in STIP is critical. Yet both Raila and Ruto have made the Finance Bill/Act their bone of political contention while denying Kenyans the right to participate in STIP negotiations. Neither they nor the leading political lights in their coalitions have spoken about the STIP although they are aware of it. Neither is organising nor mobilising Kenyans about what the Finance Bill/Act is all about. Some months back I wrote to David Ndii about this issue of participation in STIP. He dismissed me Twitter saying that my politics was frozen in 1975! He has the audacity to say, so it seems, that the 2010 Constitution is frozen in 1975!
Those of us who have heard of computational counterinsurgency know that this is a new form of subversion that is dependent on control over all forms of social media and digital spaces. Kenyans should understand where the threats from the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) about social media are coming from. The timing is just right because the US STIP team is in town. It seems, therefore, that our transformative 2010 Constitution is inconvenient to the US and EU, and their agents in Kenya.
The current US ambassador is from Silicon Valley. Eight of the top Silicon Valley tech companies are on the STIP negotiating team. If a clear sign were needed of how keen the US security apparatus is to obtain Kenya’s complete subservience to US Security interests, there you have it. The dispatch to Nairobi of Senator Chris Coons by the Biden administration is another indication of the pressures coming from the very top of the US government. I believe the Western European ambassadors, representing their countries’ interests, are one with the US in its strategy to deny the people of Kenya participation in the taking of decisions that concern their future. The leaderships of many countries in the Global South are experiencing this domination. The STIP is about US military interests, including its cyber wars with China.
Those of us who have heard of computational counterinsurgency know that this is a new form of subversion that is dependent on control over all forms of social media and digital spaces.
I believe that the pressure to put an end to the demonstrations will intensify. But our demands are bigger than any one party or coalition and not even buying opposition leaders will conceal the economic hardships of the Wenyenchi. Should it not concern Kenyans when important global issues that affect Kenyans are not the subject of mobilisation and organisation by our political leaders? Should it not concern Kenyans that investment agreements, the sovereign debt, capital flight from the country, the subsidisation of our billionaires who do not pay taxes, corruption, and wastage of our resources are issues that are not the subject of debate by our political parties?
The calls for dialogue between Ruto and Raila
Do Kenyans have a dog in this political fight between Ruto and Raila? Why have both leaders not joined forces to tell the IMF and the World Bank that the Kenyan political leadership has to mitigate the economic crises to forestall a national uprising? I am not as naive as to believe that they would do so. Their struggle might well be about who between them will serve foreign interests better.
Calling for dialogue between Ruto and Raila is politically naive. These calls imply they are in total political control. Yes, they are geniuses in the politics of division and monetisation, but this will not work in the long run. Their brand of politics has only helped breed gross inequality in Kenya and the material interests of the majority of Kenyans do not count. There is a growing awareness that poverty and inequality cut across ethnic, religious, gender, generational, and regional divides in the country. Both leaders cannot have answers for this fundamental issue because they are not the people’s representatives, but representatives of national and foreign interests who benefit from their respective leadership.
A sovereign people’s convention
I believe the present conjuncture in Kenya calls for a different type of dialogue. It is a dialogue among the people without their political leaders. It is a dialogue that withdraws the sovereign power from the political leaders. It is a people-to-people dialogue to save ourselves from our political leaders and the political blocs they represent. We must see the impending societal breakdown and be quick to summon our youth, women, workers, farmers, and the intellectual community to form a robust civil society of the Kenyan to discuss the safety of the motherland.
I believe those who should participate, however few, should be those who believe, without a doubt, that neither of the two warring political factions can lead us to the new Kenya we envision and demand.