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Madaraka Day: Dynasties, hustlers and the ‘iron law of Oligarchy’

At every turn, William Ruto has had his wings clipped, political teeth removed with pliers, the presidential wind taken off his sails

Not yet, Uhuru: Kenyans fought for freedom from British rule, but the political families that took over power-the Kenyattas, the Mois, the Odingas- have continued perpetuating themselves ever since.

By GW Ngari


It appeared like it was the turn for the hustlers to rule Kenya, but as we mark this year’s Madaraka Day, the political dynasties unleashed their gene of self-perpetuity. 

And so it is, that Deputy President William Ruto, his goose cooked under a slow fire, will be served for dinner by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Opposition leader Raila Odinga before the 2022 elections.

Presidents in realpolitik, are hardly selected by the voting masses. They are handpicked by Deep State-what Ruto calls “the system” and their election campaigns bankrolled by a few old money families-the dynasties-who control the purses and levers of the state. Hustlers, browbeaten by propaganda campaigns using mass media-owned by the dynasties-  end up voting for a candidate, a scion, a friend, a stooge for the dynasties.

Of Kenya’s four presidents: Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto, was the rank outsider, the broom from Sugoi which could have swept the political dynasties out of the high table.

Ruto once opened the boot of his jalopy outside Cameo Cinema Nairobi. He began sobbing at the sight of money made as an errand boy for Youth for Kanu ’92 political pressure group. He has never tarmacked for a job since. He made his loot through government. Until a few months ago, he appeared like the surest nail in the coffin of political dynasties.

But then came Uhuru, Raila and their 2018 ‘Handshake’ that peed on Ruto’s  tent.  Meant to lower political temperatures and tempers, the Handshake only appears to ruin Ruto’s bid as Kenya’s fifth president.

At every turn, Ruto has had his wings clipped, political teeth removed with  pliers

The boy from Sugoi: The ‘irony law of Oligarchy’ has seen to it that his presidential wind has been taken off his sails..his side kicks purged and impeached.

Just recently, Uhuru brought Gideon Moi, the scion of a dynasty that screwed the country for 24 years, into the succession matrix.

At every turn, Ruto has had his wings clipped, political teeth removed with  pliers, the presidential wind taken off his sails. His side kicks are being purged, impeached.

It is the ‘irony law of Oligarchy’, at work, fellow Kenyans.

As the late German-Italian sociologist Robert Michels explained, the ‘iron law of Oligarchy’ is the tendency of dynasties to perpetuate themselves. And it does not matter who is in power since “the internal law of oligarchies is that they will reproduce themselves not only when the same group is in power, but even when an entirely new group takes control.”

In Kenya, the ‘iron law of Oligarchy’ began after independence in 1963 when  political elites, most of them Home guards and colonial civil servants, inherited similar structures of government from the British. They occupied their residences, perpetuated the same patronage networks. They employed same old manipulation of tenders, markets and state jobs-for the economic resources oligarchs need to control, dominate and consolidate their grip on state power.

Uhuru, Raila, Gideon Moi and ‘MaDvD’ are chips of the old block, folks: There is nothing new they bring to the table, have little to offer the masses besides schemes of self-preservation in perpetuity. In the end, they entrench the status quo and with it, exclusion, as Ruto and the hustlers are gradually realizing.     

The oligarchs held him by the balls, snatched and transferred power to Major-General Abdallah Badi

Hewa moto: Nairobi Half-Governor Mike Sonko was replaced with a ‘Military Governor’ from the political dynasties. There might not be any election for Nairobi governor come 2022.

Then comes the tragedy of it all. In 2022, Kenyans will democratically vote for perceived new political order yet, in reality, the next president and key nabobs in government will be handpicked cogs in the wheel that moves forth the ‘iron law of Oligarchy.’     

For a closer dissection how it works, consider the fate of  Governor Mike Sonko.

Nairobi elected him, now he’s the ‘Half-Governor.’ The oligarchs held him by the balls, snatched and transferred power to Major-General Abdallah Badi, now the ‘Military Governor’ of Nairobi. No by-elections. Just like that, and with expanded boundaries, the capital is a Metropolis under a Director General.

A few people sat, reviewed how their interests would be served best, then kicked Sonko’s butt to the pavement, and installed their own. With a few signatures at State House Nairobi, the will of over four million residents was sealed without their consent.

That is how presidents are installed, but citizens think they’re voting.

A few old money oligarchs sit, review who best serves their interests, then bankrolls the campaign and politics being a game of perceptions brainwash voters via media, money, black and white propaganda.

In the Dictator’s Handbook, Alastair Smith and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita notes that once in government, the ‘iron law of Oligarchy’ sees the new president employ the five rules of power politics to milk the most from the state.

Reward the masses who elected you with stuff they can see. Like SGR train to Suswa. Or Sh100 million to musicians who entertain them during the pandemic

Comrade power: A soldier roams in Nairobi after the abortive military coup on August 1, 1982 coup. Raila Odinga and his father were accomplices. Baba is still jostling for power to date.

And Uhuru Kenyatta has perfected all five: One, have as few people as possible keeping you in power. This includes advisors and military officers whom Uhuru has populated in civilian positions like the Military Governor of Nairobi.

Two, fill the first pool from a very large ocean of potential candidates. The idea is, if any in the small selected pool brings nyoko nyoko, they can be replaced. See how Jubilee Senators are being purged for backing DP Ruto? It instills the fear of God in the rest.

Three, tax voters as highly as you can. You need the revenue for rewarding yourself, buying off the Opposition (we still don’t know how much Raila cost) and bribing your enemies. But be nice. Like offer tax relief during a pandemic as incentive to work harder and not revolt. Use as little of this revenue on the people as possible.

After all, they only voted, but don’t keep you in power. Instead, burn the taxes on the Coalition that got you elected with state jobs and tenders. Reward the masses who elected you with stuff they can see. Like SGR train to Suswa. Or Sh100 million to musicians who entertain them during the pandemic. Whatever remains, salt it away in off-shore accounts. 

When the next elections come, the ‘iron law of Oligarcy’ will repeat itself to apply the five rules of power politics.


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