Honeymoon over for top ‘hustlers’

President William Ruto and cabinet

President William Ruto chairs a Cabinet meeting with Cabinet Secretaries at State House, Nairobi. Some of the appointments in Cabinet and elsewhere are broken pangas, they are loyal but they will struggle.

Photo credit: PCS

The honeymoon, sadly, is over for the Kenya Kwanza government.

This, for now, has little to do with Azimio and its leader, Mr Raila Odinga, challenging the legitimacy of the coalition’s mandate. The biggest and first test for Kenya Kwanza and President William Ruto was the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam.

The coalition was expected to do better than the government it replaced in managing public affairs. However, the handling of KCSE was a fiasco.

Alleged exam papers were on sale on Telegram in the most brazen of fashions in the weeks before they were sat. It was as if the crackdowns had never happened at all, the cartels seemed to have regrouped.

The administration of the exam too was not without controversy, with the sacking of examiners midstream. But it is the results which were truly disheartening.

A school in Kisii that you have never heard of—but which, in fairness, has a history of excellent results—presented 500 candidates and returned a mean grade of 10.8; its worst performance was a solitary B.

The entire crop scored A, A- (almost 400 candidates) and nearly 80 B+. There are many possible explanations for this grossly unusual outcome, the obvious one being the exam was too easy for this school: An exam loses meaning when all pass.

In Kenya Kwanza, President Ruto, fondly referred to as “doyen” is genuinely venerated and there is lots of admiration for his prodigious memory, quick computation of issues, foresight, eloquence and boldness of manner.

There is a belief that so long as he is leading, a solution will be found to whatever problem. As Kenyans, we all support the President and the government because when they succeed, the country succeeds, if they fail, the country fails.

I was thinking about a short-cut expression that my mother used to use for everything that did not work or was not appropriate for the task. She would describe it as a “broken panga”. If you understand how a panga is used for weeding, then you will get a sense of how ineffective a broken panga would be.

When Cabinet appointments were made, I remember the sometimes-confusing political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi, congratulating the President and arguing approvingly, that appointments should be rewarded for loyalty and not competence, or an argument to that effect.

'Broken pangas'

Some of the appointments in Cabinet and elsewhere are broken pangas, they are loyal but they will struggle. How many can “doyen” reasonably assist to do their jobs before the ship begins to take a list? How many broken pangas can an effective team carry?

In all fairness, the exams came early in the life of the government, there were lots of steep learning curves, and many people were still finding their way around their big desks. But a government elected on the promise of fixing the things broken by its predecessors should not perform worse than them, especially an important one like education, as a rule of thumb.

I recently went to a supermarket in Mathira, the place where Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s big gums were trained to crush yams and waru, and I took a walk around. Generally, I would not know the price of things. In my tribe, it is forbidden for men to show an interest in kitchens and kitchen things, leaving such petty and menial assignments to their wives. (I know, I’m sleeping outside with the dogs tonight). I was taken aback by the prices.

The soaring cost of living sours the national mood; the perception of persecution of those who did not support Kenya Kwanza, the mismanagement of national exams and now the drums of discord being hammered by the opposition, well, let just say that our “Mbrothers” are about to start earning their hefty pay.

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I support the government’s and opposition's proposal to reopen the 2022 General Election and determine what really went on.

The government-leaning folks want Bomas probed, there are allegations of plots to kill IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, heaven help us. The opposition folks are more into Jose Camargo and Co.

I do not for one minute buy into Mr Chebukati’s hosannas and I do not share in lionising him, I’d wait until a comprehensive investigation is concluded. Perhaps I was just suspicious of the alacrity with which he opened the servers to the media, as if there was a ploy to get it to own the results.

I’m aware that Azimio was given a chance to prove its case at the Supreme Court and they chocked. At least that appeared to be the conclusion of the court. Was there a story there?

As a conspiracy theorist of some pedigree, I’d like to know if Ugandan Intelligence played a role in our election and, if yes, which one, I’d also like to hear about the British High Commission (and its carpet of MI6 sleepers), the US Embassy and the CIA. Was there really an auction? Was ours a case of a massive clash between the West and China, as “experts” opine in our bar in Kihunguro?

Go ahead, open Pandora’s box and take out the snake-haired head.


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