Kenya has now been without a government for nearly two weeks, since President Kibaki dissolved the Cabinet after his disastrous “Banana Party” defeat in the November 21st referendum campaign. He also suspended Parliament, whose voracious MPs will not have any helpings of pork until March, when they next meet to feast.
Meanwhile, Kenya has not fallen apart during this period. The police catch thieves. People go to work. Taxes are paid, rents collected. The economy continues to improve drastically. A problem in Africa as a whole, not just Kenya, is the personalization of institutions. Africa does not work properly because instead of believing in the transcendence of institutions and process, Africans generally (as an electorate or a mass) believe in the power of politico-ethnic personality over institutions. This is changing, but very slowly. Has Kibaki sped it up, inadvertently?
In having no Cabinet for a fortnight, Kenyans can now plainly see that it is the rule of law, the civil service, the police, the citizens themselves, indeed the institutions of the country, that have caused them this laudable ability to carry on. The realization that the many clowns, thieves and ambition freaks who would like to rule us with their personality politics are truly secondary actors, may also begin to occur. It’s too early to say if any of this will lead to what will really transform Kenya, or any African country, economically and in terms of social justice: a switch from African ethnic and personality politics to issue based political decisions and choices. However, the thought must be beginning to dawn on many.