THE SILLY SEASON OF POLITICS IS BOTH GOOD AND BAD
Imagine January 2017. All the guests are seated down. The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of United States of America, is flawlessly performed. And the world is about to witness the swearing into office of the 45th president of the Union. Today, it looks increasingly likely that, that president could be Donald Trump. That is, if he is the eventual Republican party nominee to face off with the Democratic party nominee.
Mr. Trump has, to his credit, so far won Republican party primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Unless something drastic happens between now and next Tuesday, March 1st 2016, state and national polls show Mr. Trump has a commanding lead over fellow Republican contestants for the party’s ticket.
This season of politics has shown that the billionaire real estate developer is everything but a politician. He is brash. He is loud. He has crashed with virtually everybody, including women groups, immigrants, Muslims, and lately, with the pope. And yet, an avalanche of angry Americans has propelled this unlikely candidate to the top of most polls. It is an unlikely story that can only happen in the United States of America.
Across the pond in the Middle East, the birthplace of Islam, Christianity and Judaism is on fire, as usual. Graphic images of death and destruction from the civil wars in Syria and Iraq will haunt generations for many years. Thankfully, a truce has been agreed in Syria after 5 years of a senseless war. Will it hold a long-term prospect for peace?
In South Sudan, President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar have agreed to lay down arms and work together to develop their young nation. It is anyone’s guess whether, this time, the two will work together for long given their poor track record of, now-on, now-off political marriage of convenience between the Nuer and Dinka communities.
Last week, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda was re-elected after leading Uganda for 30 years. Where were you in 1986? That is the year when President Museveni, with his National Resistance Movement, took power in Kampala after a long bush war. At 71 years old, Museveni has indicated this may be his last term in office.
But until he steps aside, don’t count on that promise by Museveni not to run again for president. Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. In Eastern Africa, only Tanzania and Kenya have a history of limited-term presidency.
Burundi is going through low-level insurgency since President Pierre Nkurunziza changed the constitution to enable him run for a third-term. And only recently did Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame win a referendum allowing him to run for a third-term.
Further south, in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe has just celebrated his 92nd birthday with a lavish party while begging the international community to send food donations for his starving countrymen. Mugabe has said he will be president of Zimbabwe until God calls him home. Once a successful bread basket for southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s agriculture has ground to a halt after years of controversial forced land acquisitions from white commercial farmers. Zimbabwe has just nationalized all diamond mining firms.
In Kenya, Opposition leader Raila Odinga is riding high while the ruling Jubilee coalition is entangled in embarrassing scandal following the loss of millions of shillings in the rebranded National Youth Service. Heads have rolled. Cabinet Secretary Waiguru resigned in shame. She is under investigation by the anti-corruption commission.
Miss Waiguru’s former technocrats are in court charged with theft or negligence to prevent theft. Unless prosecutors win convictions and recovery of the lost funds, 2017 promises to be a bruising year for the ruling Jubilee coalition.
This silly season of politics is both good and bad. It all depends on where you stand.
By Leonard Njoroge, DM Media Contributor