By Mwenda Njoka. Source: Star Newspaper.
There is something particularly bizarre in the way Transport Minister Amos Muhinga Kimunya conducts his official duties. When, as Finance Minister in 2008 he faced a public storm and calls to resign over the apparently irregular and highly controversial sale of the Grand Regency Hotel, Kimunya publicly—and rather arrogantly, I daresay—declared, “I would rather die than resign!”
A few days later Finance Minister Amos Kimunya was forced to eat the humble pie. Parliament passed a vote of no confidence in him and he had to resign to pave way for an independent investigation into the
Grand Regency Scandal. The investigation, we are told, cleared Kimunya of any wrong doing in the sale of Grand Regency Hotel to Libyans for what many Kenyans considered a pittance.
A few weeks ago, Kimunya constituted a new board of directors to oversee the management of the strategic (and very lucrative) Kenya’s sole sea port of entry—Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
Nothing wrong with the Minister for Transport appointing a new board for KPA, that is perfectly within his ministerial mandate. What is patently wrong though is for the minister to skew the appointments in favour of one particular community—the Kikuyu—as if the rest of Kenyan communities do not matter.
Seven out of the thirteen board members appointed by Minister Kimunya come from Central Kenya—at least judging by their names, and names are pretty reliable indicators of one’s ethnic background in this country. I have nothing personal or otherwise against the Kikuyu or any other community in the country. If anything, I being a Meru, I would say we have filial relations with the Kikuyu community, not to mention other relations.
But that does not change my perception when it comes to issues of justice, fairness and equity in public appointments and sharing of national resources. I would still hold the same view—that Amos Kimunya is blatantly wrong—if he had appointed my own kith and kin in a similarly disproportionate manner to the board of KPA or any other public body.
The people Kimunya gazetted for KPA board may be very qualified professionals with a string of degrees and experience stretching from here to Australia, but that is beside the point. The real point here is the issue of being perceptive and sensitive to interests and needs of all Kenyan communities when it comes to public appointments.
Insensitivity and failure to recognise other communities’ interests is the demon seed that breeds political discord, conflict and clashes. Such political tactlessness borders on treasonable acts. Many fair-minded Kenyans—myself included—have raised our voices over and over against the coastal group, Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) for its anti-nationalistic stance.
But clearly, with Cabinet Ministers like Amos Kimunya being so insensitive to interests and needs of other communities—besides his own—only a blind person would fail to concede that indeed MRC has some genuine grievances when it says that Coast people have been marginalized. Whereas one finds the catchphrase of MRC that “Pwani si Kenya” (Coast is not part of Kenya) a complete abomination, when you look at actions of Ministers such as Kimunya, you reluctantly concede that MRC is not the real enemy, politicians like Kimunya are!
Now, where I come from (and I believe even where the Transport Minister hails from) the name “Kimunya” means someone who uproots or destroys stuff for the sake of it. Now, is it that Amos Kimunya has chosen to live up to his name or is it that he simply doesn’t get it?
Could it possibly be that Kimunya is not aware that we live in a new Kenya where ways of the old when Ministers rode roughshod on citizens appointing only their kith and kin to key positions are neither acceptable nor palatable?
It is completely out of sync with the letter and spirit of the new Constitution and reeks of extreme political arrogance for Minister Kimunya to appoint 53.8% of KPA board of directors from one ethnic community. With such Ministers should we really be surprised that some communities feel like they are not part of Kenya? I don’t think so.