Fourth power transition should promote continuity in business – Business Daily
President Dr William Ruto (centre) with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left) and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi nominee at State House in Nairobi on September 27, 2022. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG
In optimal circumstances, democratic states embrace regular elections. The elections, usually quite competitive in free jurisdictions, help to put governments in office. During their tenure, governments exercise a wide latitude to implement their policies, enact enabling laws and drive programmes. To put this simply, governments exercise power.
Heads of government always move into office with a whole cast of actors. Each with a role — visible and invisible security chiefs, heads of government ministries, party bigwigs and even gatekeepers to the presidency.
Governments come with unofficial power brokers too, who often exercise informal influence. These can be subtle and uncompromising, and are best given their way. Some governments come with characters akin to the court jesters of medieval Europe. These are folks who are close, entertaining and have the capacity to create warmth and cheer around the president’s space. Because of their proximity to power, court jesters can achieve results against any odds.
The transition of power from one group to the next can be most challenging for states. Governments around Africa have had all manner of schisms during transition. Depending on the context, efficiency and synergy of the groups exchanging power, national institutions and the respective productive systems in a country respond to self-preserve. It therefore behoves the exiting and incoming groups to ensure that they send signals to help continue a state and its productive systems with minimal disruption.
Kenya is currently undergoing its fourth power transition. The first transition from the colonial to independent state under Jomo Kenyatta posed the greatest challenge. The colonial power wielders were unsure about the policies the independent state would embrace, and feared that revenge against the oppression previously exercised, could inform the new regime. But this was well navigated and productive processes continued.
The transition to Daniel Moi following Jomo Kenyatta’s death posed a different kind of challenge. Rearranging the previous power matrix took President Moi lots of tact and patience, but also consequences. It was equally challenging for President Mwai Kibaki to assume and reorganize the Moi state, but he did it quite deftly, in the process creating great national synergy and hope.
While Uhuru Kenyatta, didn’t have much challenge in progressing the state after assuming power from Kibaki, the ongoing transition to President William Ruto has been chequered, primarily because of their antagonistic pre-transition politics. Businesses are therefore keenly watching the unfolding state. It‘s hoped that the emerging power matrix will promote an environment where business can thrive even better, within and beyond national borders.
The writer is a consultant on land governance.