Saturday, June 04, 2005

It is Time for Kenyan Workers to Sack the NARC Government

The Kibaki-NARC regime bared its vicious anti-worker fangs on Friday, June 3, 2005 by ruthlessly firing

hundreds of thousands of civil servants who were exercising their democratic and labour rights by withdrawing their nguvu kazi from the work-place to demonstrate the fact that the salaries they subsist on today are starvation wages that have not kept pace with inflation and the rising cost of living over the years.

In a show of true coalition mainstream unity,

William Ole Ntimama of the LDP addressed a joint press conference with Dr. Newton Kulundu flanked by key Mount Kenya Mafia strategist Francis Muthaura to announce the draconian, inhuman measure taken against the Kenyan working class, the very social forces that lined up for hours in December 2002 to catapult this bunch of selfish NARC ingrates to power.

The Ntimama/Kulundu move echoes previous Kenyan government assaults on the rights of the Kenyan workers, like for instance, the retrenchments from five years ago. and even a year before that.

Does anyone remember the Yote Yawezakana and UNBWOGABLE anthems?

I certainly do.

Remember how NARC was supposed to usher in a new era of prosperity, job growth and democracy?

What has NARC done since coming to power?

I remember respectively cabinet ministers from both parties- Balala, Ochilo Ayacko, Charity Ngilu , Mukhisa Kituyi, Mwiraria and now Ntimama and Kulundu threatening, lecturing and otherwise berating workers right from the get go in January 2003.

If there was any doubt, Friday's mass sacking- a fascist move that the late unlamented far right American president

Ronald Reagan(remember how he fired the air traffic controllers in '81?) would have been proud of-Friday's cruel attack on Kenyan workers demonstrates that the Kibaki-NARC regime is a government of the tumbo kubwas for the matajiris by the mababi- a government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich.

The same Kulundus and Ntimamas who think that Kenyan civil servants are asking for too much are the same greedy hogs who are not satisfied with the gas guzzling limos and 4WDS and want generous benefit packages extended to their concubines have the audacity to slap the same hardworking tax payers who they leach for their totally useless existence as so called "leaders".

It takes a lot of GALL for a government whose backbone is the working wananchi to unleash such a salvo.

To my mind, the Ntimamas, Kulundus and yes, the Kibakis are first and foremost trying to please their masters in Washington, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Ottawa and elsewhere- the mandarins of the IMF, the heads of the G-8 states and the transnational corporate behemoths that control these Western governments. They are trying to tell the imperialists that they are in fact very good nyaparas of the neocolonial plantation known as dependent Kenya. They are signalling to international finance capital that Kenya is still open for imperialist and neo-colonial rape, plunder, looting and pillage. Come, they are telling the Americans, the Canadians, the French, the Germans, the Scandinavians, the Japanese, the Chinese and assorted foreign interests; come to Kenya.

Here is how they are the lyrics of the well-known kiss ass-come-hither-you-tourist- song:

jambo, jambo bwana beberu
jambo jambo bibi mkoloni mamboleo
wageni mabepari mwakaribishwa nchini kenya
wageni waporaji mwakaribishwa kunyakua rasilmali zote za kenya

wafanyi kazi wananyonywa na makupe kama nyinyi
wafanyi kazi wanafyonzwa na viroboroto kama nyinyi

wafanyi kazi wakileta nyoko nyoko watafukuzwa kazini mara moja
wafanyi kazi watapigwa kalamu wakitisha maslahi za mabepari nchini
wafanyi kazi wataadhibiwa wakisimamia haki zao

jambo, jambo bwana beberu
njooni kenya serikali ya kibaki itahakikisha wafanyi kazi hawaleti nyoko nyoko!

free form translation:

hello mister imperialist
how are you lady neocolonialist
foreign capitalists are very welcome in our country kenya
foreign plunderers are invited to come and cart away our natural resources

kenyan workers are sucked dry by exploiters like you
kenyan workers will be fired if they dare to threaten the status quo
kenyan workers will be sacked if they stand up for their rights
hello all of you imperialists
come to kenya because the kibaki regime
guarantees that kenyan workers will forever remain meek and humble!

Looking back, my stomach turns as I leaf over past news stories featuring Ntimama fulminating over the decision of Amos Wako to let Delamare's murderous grandson off the hook.

What a shameless hypocrite Ntimama is!

How do you move from spewing fire and brimstone threatening cataclysms and political catastrophes over a government decision widely reviled as kowtowing to the remnants of the racist white settler minority to gleefully announcing the sacking of thousands of civil servants who may very well include some of the co-workers of the late Sisina?

Three or so weeks ago

Raila Odinga was threatening mass action.

What is Agwambo's reaction to the mass sackings of the main ingredients of mass action in Kenya on the morning after massacre of Kenyan workers' democratic and labour rights?

Is he going to speak up or will he keep his trap firmly shut with only a terse "no comment" escaping from his lips?

Is he going to endorse his fellow LDP Ntimama's insane anti-worker outrage because of collective cabinet responsibility?

Some of us have been sighing heavily indicating that TUMECHOKA with all characters in the Kibaki regime, irrespective of party affiliation.

Nothing bolsters our disillusionment as the concerted action of the Kibaki regime against Kenyan workers.

Who said that NARC was divided?

They may have minor differences about power sharing.

But on the major issues around class domination, both factions in NARC are glued together, as thick as thieves- LDP is united together with NAK as a team of political Siamese twins- only these ones are joined at the belly because of their rapacious appetites. They are united in their disdain for the Kenyan workers; they are united in their contempt for the plight of the Kenyan workers; they compete with each other, duking it out to see who retrenches the most workers, who issues the most dire warnings, who comes across as the harshest school teacher with the biggest kiboko to cane the workers with.

For the last few days, I have observed with bemused silence as a gaggle of online Kenyan pundits roasted each other over the implications of the Raila/Karume tet atet and the apparent wilting of the LDP stubborn will. Some people(mainly rabid cheerleaders of the NAK faction) have seen these developments as the latest comeuppance of Agwamba Tinga Tinga and proof positive of the Macchiavelian cunning of the Kiraitus and other Kibaki insiders; diehard LDP supporters on the other hand were somewhat confused by the series of Kajwang/Raila flip flops on the question of the LDP's participation in the Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitutional review process. Much has been made of tongue lashing and finger wagging of President Kibaki during this year's Madaraka Day celebrations.

Briefly, I think TOO MUCH is being made of the LDP moves and counter-moves. Simply put, Raila Odinga was simply acting to thwart a growing isolationist gambit from his NAK rivals and may have signalled his lieutenants like Kajwang to sue for a temporary truce to sidestep the aggressive push by the NAK insiders to jettison the entire LDP crew and replace it with a KANU/FORD-People slate of opportunists and turn coats. Clearly the Karume overture is a pointer that there are internal skirmishes for influence over Ikulu going on between the impatient Murungaru-Murungi power wielders and the old money DP financiers from the Gikuyu comprador bourgeoisie. It is important for Raila Odinga to realize that the Karume/Michuki old timers are just the more suave "negotiators" of the same NAK team that of late included LDP fifth columnists like George Saitoti, Ali Mwakwere, Shakombo, Tuju and other pro Kibaki politicians who are working in tandem with Murungaru, Murungi and all the younger more hawkish contingents in NAK.

At the end of the day, both NARC factions need each other, especially in light of the fact that day by day, it appears as if Uhuru Kenyatta is emerging as the MOST CONSISTENT NATIONALIST in the whole mainstream bunch, with more and more Kenyans from across the country giving him another look, now that he has emerged from Daniel arap Moi's long shadow to be his own man. That is why LDP will never quit the coalition and why NAK will never cut themselves off from their LDP kissing cousins.

Sometimes as Kenyans we spend so much time obsessing what Raila Odinga did or not say to Njenga Karume or who Mwai Kibaki was warning to lose fact of the larger global picture.

For instance, in the same week that Kenyans were micro-analyzing what went on during LDP's Naivasha retreat,

55% of French voters in a 70% turn out wielded a crushing blow against the neo-liberal and globalizing agenda of the EU constitution; in the same week that Kenyans were obsessing over what Kajwang said in this or that paper, in the same week there was a prominent story in a London based newspaper that a supposedly left wing Iranian group was being groomed by British and American neo-conservatives to overthrow the velayet farghi clerical dictatorship which just so happens to be the next pit stop in the Bush/Condeleeza regime change tour.

The French vote has implications way beyond Europe as it is a further signal of the surging resurgence of left wing militancy around the world(especially places like Venezuela and other parts of Latin America) after decades of far right triumphalism. The bizarre alliance between the superficially "leftist" Mujaheedin Khalq and outfits like the Daily Telegraph on the other hand indicates the extend to which international finance capital is prepared to do some ideological contortions and perversions to usurp national sovereignty in the Middle East and other parts of the so called Third World.

One of the continuing tragedies of our Kenyan national political discourse strategy is that we rarely gaze beyond the ferocious internal storms in the mainstream neocolonial tea cups within Kenya.

In following mainstream cat fights and local events we can assign ourselves " expert observers" as can be seen from the following pointers:

Very few Kenyans were surprised to hear about the total shut out

Mukami Kimathi and Muthoni Baimuingi faced on Madaraka Day when they showed up dutifully to take their place among the dignitaries attending Madaraka Day.

Even as

Raphael Tuju and the Missus gave a

Palme d'Or deserving impersonation of a Maasai, thousands of the real Maasai grieving over the shooting death of Ole Sisina at the hands of young Thomas were nowhere to be seen at the annual national celebrations.

The biggest break with Madaraka Day tradition was the shocking absence of the quintessential neo-colonial First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta and Official Opposition head honcho Uhuru Kenyatta from the proceedings for the first time since we started celebrating Madaraka Day. When I was a small katoi growing up in Nairobi, Kisa and Mombasa, there were three Kenyan women who to me represented poise, dignity and grandeur in terms of how they dressed and carried themselves in public: Mama Ngina, Dr. Julia Ojiambo and Mrs. Jane Kiano. Restricting myself only to SUPERFICIAL outward attributes, the three ladies made an articulate sartorial statement that rings louder today when we contemplate the rambunctious pugilist who recently wiggled her way from Lang’ata Prison courtesy of the honourable Amos Wako.

President Mwai Kibaki must have thrown away his cache of Jeeves page turners because he appeared to be sparring in preparation of a fist fight against unseen and unnamed challengers to his title and mantle. It was interesting to see him decrying unemployment among the youth in the same breath that he threatened to crush any unemployed kijana who is foolhardy enough to resort to petty crime to make ends meet.

I read and re-read the President’s platitude ridden speech touting 4.3% economic growth and miracle tales of bliss, prosperity and development in the making with one question playing on my lips:

Who was Kibaki talking to?

Which country was he referring to?

Could he by chance be referring to the thousands of Kenyan civil servants who declared a nationwide strike the same day?

Could he be talking to the nurses and other hospital workers who had downed their tools a few weeks ago?

Could he be talking to the 12,000 Telkom workers whose fate still hangs in the balance?

Could he be talking to the tens of thousands of Kenyans abroad who see very little reason to troop back home in any particular hurry?

Could he be talking to the millions of NARC voters who are still waiting for that democratic constitution and those half a million jobs?

Could he be talking to scores upon scores of former political prisoners and detainees who are still waiting for the setting up of a Truth and Justice Commission?

Could the President have been directing his remarks to people like John Githongo, Gladwell Otieno and Jane KiraguJ who are no longer front and square in the leadership of corruption fighting bodies in Kenya?

How was this year's Madaraka Day speech different from last year's Madaraka Day speech?

There is such a serious disconnect between the Kenyan people and the governing National Rainbow Coalition.

Within the ruling clique the over- riding internal preoccupation is the sickening see-sow soap opera tussle between the Kiraitu led bunch and the Raila led bunch about which wing of the latest edition of the Kenyan comprador bourgeois governing formation will wield the neo-colonial state usukani.

One can safely bet that despite the grand standing over the alleged Kenyan "defiance" of the United States over the International Criminal Court and the "stubborness" against the British in confronting grand graft, the two Anglo imperialist regimes led by Bush and Blair respectively are privately very, very pleased with the Kibaki regime.

Nothing can bring music to the ears of an imperialist power quicker than a Third World government cracking down on its own workers with the kind of ferocious ruthlessness that the Kibaki-NARC regime moved against Kenyan workers on Fridays.

I am predicting that all suspended Western aid will start trickling back to the Mwiraria controlled state coffers as these beberus realize that maskini kumbe they totally misjudged their stooges in Nairobi.

In the short term the NARC regime will break the back of worker militancy as the state assisted by mainstream Nation/Standard/Times propaganda portraying civil servants as heartless beasts serves to swerve public sympathy away from the striking public sector workers. Let us not forget that the NATION and the Standard are themselves corporate entities tied to powerful local and international businessmen who are scared of the example that could be set by a successful nationally coordinated workers' strike.

Indeed it is the NATIONAL character of the civil servants strike that has scared the Kibaki regime shitless. If they allow this strike to succeed then their agenda of keeping Kenyan workers divided along tribal, regional and superficial party lines will be dealt a death blow as workers in Othaya realize that their true brothers and sisters are to be found in Kangundo, Bondo, Vihiga, Kirinyaga, Mandera among other workers from across a range of Kenyan nationalities and ethnic groups rather than hostile rich people who happen to share their mother tongue.

The emerging national alliance of democratic forces FROM BELOW is something that has to be nipped in the bud, according to the regime which fears that sooner or later the Maasai will forge alliances with the Dawida and other local and indigenous communities fighting for land rights; the defacto united democratic front that has seen Kenyan human rights and social justice organizations work in tandem increasingly is something that the NARC jokers are scared of because it threatens their consolidation of power scenarios that will ensure that this or that section of the same neo-colonial thugs keep misruling Kenya and Kenyans for another generation.

Unfortunately for Kibaki and his acolytes, the Kenyan working people have woken up permanently from their decades long political slumber.

Far from being cowed by state terrorism as exemplified by the draconian mass sackings of June 3, 2005, Kenyan workers and other democracy seeking forces will only be galvanized.

An irony that may have escaped the Ntimamas and Kulundus is that June 3rd is a significant date in Kenyan political history because it was exactly on this date in 1982 that Daniel arap Moi's regime started moving against "dissidents" after a speech echoed by Kibaki twenty three years later. The NARC regime which includes some of the survivors of the 1982 crackdown must realize that repression only breeds more resistance.

The mass sackings are following closely on the heels of the very unpopular nolle prosequis dismissing charges against the Delamare and Kibaki millionaire families; the mass sackings are coming at a time when the Kenyan people are very angry at NARC for their many broken promises; the mass sackings are occurring within a national context of mass disenchantment with the status quo.

The Kibaki-NARC regime has made its bed- it must lie/lay in it. In choosing political adversaries, NARC has chosen its ultimate executor by choosing to lock horns with the same formidable force that buried the Moi-KANU juggernaut at the 2002 polls.

Compared to Moi-KANU, Kibaki NARC is WEAKER as a governing "national" political force- we have all witnessed the unending factional bickering and fist fights since it came to power in 2003; its support base has whittled down as its middle-class, professional and now working class erstwhile supporters desert this gang of political traitors who are more intent on lining their own pockets and hanging on tow political power than solving problems of unemployment, inflation, rising cost of living, housing, health care and other planks that would be part of a national democratic strategy for sustainable livelihoods in Kenya.

It is only a matter of time before the wananchi reorganize themselves into an unstoppable POLITICAL force confronting NARC using militant extra-parliamentary onslaughts.

Compared to the coming national uprising led by the much despised wananchi, the recent threats by Raila Odinga about "mass action" will eventually appear to be very MILD indeed.

To the Kenyan workers, especially the striking civil servants I say:

Take courage!

Fundamental political change is NOT like a ndombolo or rusha roho dance.

Round 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or even 6 may go to the Kulundus , Ntimamas and the rest of their cabinet colleagues in the Kibaki cabinet.

What matters is who remains standing at the end of Round Fifteen.

Onyango Oloo


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