Presidential Debate: “Vultures’ Solution” to Tribalism is Dead and Buried
Class politics is the answer to tribalism, not tired cliches
The long awaited, first ever presidential debate for aspiring candidates in Kenya is over, opening the way for analysts and commentators to stream in with their takes on the debate. Muhammed Abduba, Paul Muite, Raila Odinga, James ole Kiyiapi, Peter Kenneth, Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua (the only woman candidate) and Uhuru Kenyatta, all had their say in a live transmission estimated to have been watched by about 40 million viewers, majority of them Kenyans. By Kenyan and Third World standards, the debate was a big step forward in Kenya’s electoral politics while the event also represented an obvious advance in the country’s democratic struggle.
However, in terms of issues that were discussed in relation to the quality of responses that were given by the candidates, the historic debate was the ultimate proof that Kenyan politicians aspiring for the highest office in the land are fundamentally clueless about what needs to be done to sort out the mess that has stagnated the nation since independence more than 49 years ago. An examination of some of the key issues tackled reveal that the answers given by the candidates were embarrassingly the same, inadequate and, sometimes, off the mark. In this instalment, an examination of the thorny issue of tribalism and how to end it could illustrate this point.
On this issue, which was the first to come up, the line of response of all the candidates was along “equitable distribution of wealth”, “equity in allocation of resources”, “equalize development in all areas”, “an all-inclusive government”, “implementation of the Constitution” “an audit of the civil service” among other tired clichés. Why were these answers wanting?
Tribalism is not rooted in lack of equitable distribution of resources in Kenya. It is rooted in a neo-colonial ideology inculcated in the psyche of Kenyans by British colonialists who used this ideology to divide and rule Kenyans. Today, this ideology persists because it has been handed over from generation to generation by the rotten capitalist ruling class which has been using it to achieve the same objectives of dividing Kenyans in order to rule them. The existence of ethnic voting blocs benefits politicians who use these blocs as bargaining chips during their wheeling and dealing especially during electioneering.
If say “equal distribution of resources” were a solution, the implication is that there has been an “unequal distribution” of these resources to members of ethnic groups whose ethnic chieftains have been in power. In short, it should mean that members of the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin (through Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki) should have been well-off compared to other Kenyans from other ethnic groups. The reality is that majority of Kenyans (in their millions) are languishing in poverty regardless of whether or not members of their ethnic groups have resided in State House and this is how the situation will remain if Kenyans do not wake up to understand the problem of tribalism from a different angle.
Under the deformed condition of the capitalist system in Kenya (which all political parties contesting elections adhere to), there is no mechanism for distributing Kenya’s wealth and resources equally among all Kenyans regardless of the propaganda being used in the situation. Such a method of distribution only exists under a Socialist system. The method of “devolution” being cited by politicians will never trickle down to benefit the poor unemployed Kenyan and here, a good example is Constituency Development Fund system which failed due to corruption.
What will happen is that the devolved system at the County level will suffer the fate of CDF funds and eventually, millions of Kenyans will begin to wonder where the money has disappeared as they continue to starve to death. A lot of rhetoric could be at play but what is known is that under capitalism, the ruling class accumulate wealth endlessly at the expense of the poor thereby contributing to the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. Ending tribalism in Kenya will be impossible if the system cannot be changed and the ideology of capitalism under which tribalism thrives is replaced by Democratic socialism.
If the ruling class can gang up, Workers and the poor can also gang up to seize power
To end tribalism, a political party that seeks to lead workers to power will have to surface. There are over ten million workers in Kenya and such a party will have to be armed with a clear Political program aimed at improving the working conditions of workers while at the same time addressing the issue of starvation wages in Kenya which has repeatedly seen workers from different sectors across the country resort to strike actions as a way of protest.
Such a party will also have to appeal to the army of unemployed youths who are tired of living in poverty and who are looking for a way out of their frustrations. This party will have to appeal to millions of students and peasants by introducing politics geared towards mobilization of poor Kenyans against the rich wealth gabbers who use tribalism to divide the poor. In simpler terms, the problem of tribalism can only be ended through class politics as opposed to ethnic politics which, at times, threaten to plunge the country into war.
A good example of class politics at work in Kenya and where tribalism has been defeated repeatedly is during those moments when Teachers, Doctors, Nurses or University Lecturers resort to strike action to force the ruling class to address their grievances especially on the issue of starvation wages. During such moments of struggle, the affected workers usually lay down their tools as aggrieved workers seeking redress from their bosses or government, not as members of different ethnic groups. Presdient Kibaki, a Kikuyu, has been in power for a decade but during strike actions by say Doctors, all Kikuyu Doctors have always showed up in the streets along their Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, Masaai and Kamba counterparts.
If the thieving ruling class can gang up by exploiting “ethnic voting blocs” as bargaining chips, workers can also gang up and link with other exploited layers in Kenya to seize power. The reason why Kenyans have not yet reached this stage in the democratic struggle is because class politics has not yet attracted the attention of the electorate. The obstacle is that political parties in the market place are all selling capitalist ideas based on maintaining the capitalist system as it is.
A workers’ government is at the best position of distributing the national wealth equally because this wealth is produced by these workers. Revenue that runs Kenya and which is supposed to be distributed is collected through taxation but the key problem is that currently, the creators of wealth (workers) are not involved in its distribution, a responsibility which has been taken over by the vulture class through an election process in which there is no Party that represents the interest of the creators of wealth.
Once Kenyans begin to see themselves as members of different classes, and once a party is in place to represent their interest, tribalism will die a natural death because politically speaking, any Kenyan walking the streets is either a worker, a student, jobless, a peasant, bourgeoisie, petit bourgeoisie or a member of the ruling class (vulture). These are the key “economic tribes” in Kenya, a reality that is unavoidable.
The ruling class (mavulture) are already united in their quest for power while they even set up Coalitions and Alliances at every election in order to conspire on how to loot the economy once they come to power. Both the bourgeoisie (owners of capital) and the petit bourgeoisie also deal in business for mutual benefit regardless of their ethnic origins because they speak the same language of money. Mega corruption scandals occur because this class usually conspires with mavulture to loot the tax payer’s money through dubious contracts.
The task (for Kenyans interested in the Socialist revolution which is still at the discussion stage) is to unite the worker, the student, the unemployed and the peasant against the ruling class and their collaborators. This is what class politics (the answer to tribalism) is all about. It is not rocket science.
During the just concluded Presidential debate, the vulture class sought to convince Kenyans that it will end tribalism by distributing the carcass equally to every mwananchi once it gets to the eating table. This has never happened anywhere in the world where mavulture are in charge and it is not about to happen in Kenya. The vulture solution to tribalism in Kenya is therefore dead and buried.
Kenya Red Alliance (KRA)