John Githingo – Kenya’s crusading anti-corruption champion, who was permanent secretary in charge of governance and ethics until he had to flee to the UK in 2005 – offers a succint analysis of how aid donors have contributed to instability in Kenya:
To many in the west confronted with images of machete-wielding Africans, what has happened may look like an atavistic uprising. In fact it has been a deadly elite-driven political game in which the machete carriers are pawns on a blood-soaked chessboard. The kings and queens include institutions such as the World Bank, western governments and others who have engaged with Kenya’s polity in a manner that has often involved sweeping fundamental realities under the carpet. For the past four years some of these players insisted that Kenya’s politics were merely noise that would be drowned out by the chugging of a vibrant economic engine. Those who used their credibility as purveyors of this alchemy are as responsible for the current situation as some of the leading belligerents now. They need to engage responsibly and with unity and clarity.
Too true, unfortunately. Githingo also injects a note of realism into reports that a deal between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki is close to being reached, noting that:
Kenya is gripped by a battle within its political elite that has led to a failed election. This has fractured the nation along historic fault-lines of resource inequality, ethnicity, generation and class. Potent grievances over the distribution of land, and over the perceptions that the president’s Kikuyu community feels entitled to rule, are stirred into the mix. It is a contradiction because the two ostensibly opposing forces have no fundamental ideological differences. Indeed, it is not clear that the mediation in Nairobi involves leaders who retain control of the situation on the ground.