History repeats itself ..no? A trip down memory lane Part One

On 22nd August 2017, 2 weeks after the general election, Kenyans will celebrate the 39th anniversary since the death of Mzee, the first president of Kenya. Mzee’s demise was preceded and followed by events which may be a tad similar to the current political landscape.

Now mimi ni mtu wa RWNBP but I love history and I know politicians love themselves first. With that, let’s take a trip down Kenya’s political memory lane. Ama namna gani my friends?

In 1960, Kenya African Union(Mzee), National People’s Convention Party( Tom Mboya) and Kenya Independence Movement (Oginga Odinga ) all merged to formed KANU. They chose Jomo Kenyatta as their leader in absentia since he was in prison and James Gichuru filled his position. When Mzee was freed, he took his position as head of KANU. In the same year, KADU was formed by Daniel Moi, Masinde Muliro and Ronald Ngala.

KANU ideologies revolved around a centralised system of government whereas KADU wanted a majimbo system/federal system (inafanana na devolution) where power was a bit decentralized. The two parties went head to head in the 1963 elections where KANU won and had majority in the House of Representatives and Senate. Mzee became prime minister.

1964 marked the year when Kenya became a defacto one party state. The leaders of KADU dissolved the party and joined KANU therefore meaning the opposition was no more. Kenya became a republic in the same year, the position of prime minister was done away with. Mzee became the first president and Oginga Odinga his vice without elections. The Republican constitution, which favoured a centralised government,was also adopted without a referendum.
Moi was granted the Home Affairs docket.

Through the merging of the two parties, KANU hit two birds with one stone - avoiding elections and adopting a new constitution in their favour. Before 1964, the government had national and regional administrative units. The regional administrative units had their own executive and legislature. After 1964, KANU frustrated this regional system of government through systematic amendments that abolished consulting regional heads when appointed the CJ and a final amendment in 1965 that converted regional assemblies to the provinces which had PCs reporting to the office of the president - a final blow to decentralization. Throughout Mzee’s reign, several amendments were made to increase the president’s power.

Around 1966, ideological differences between Mzee and his vice led to the latter forming his own party, Kenya People’s Union(KPU) later on and quiting his V.P post. Mzee leant toward the West (capitalism) and Oginga the East(socialism). “Little-elections” were held after the breakaway because a cheeky amendment to the constitution (Amendment Act No 17 of 1966) specified that anyone who left Kanu to join another party had to seek re-election. Since 29 members had defected from Kanu, they were significant by-elections. It is at this point that divisions started to manifest themselves with Kikuyus behind KANU and Luos behind KPU .

In the same year 1966, an amendment(Act No 19 of 1966) abolished regional assemblies and merged the House of representatives and Senate into the National Assembly. Previously, the constitution had a bicameral legislature meaning that parliament had an upper house(Senate - 41 senators) and lower house(House of representatives- 129 m.ps) but the amendment converted it into a unicameral legislature with m.ps only. The Senate was formed after lobbying by KADU to cater for smaller minority tribes against the larger, Kikuyu and Luo, who made up KANU, give them a voice and to increase the independence of the regional assemblies. It had 41 senators representing 40 districts and Nairobi . Therefore, its abolishment was another ploy to strengthen the centralization agenda. Other amendments granted emergency powers to the president.

part two- fall of kpu and rise of moi.


Nice read… Next.

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Lesson learnt ,there has been a lot of compromise for selfish gain , but it doesn’t last hence the splits later on.

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Good stuff bro. Keep it coming. However, don’t forget to bring in the RWNBP and UOTP angle else some will never read.