08 September 2003
The string of recent deaths in the top ranks of Kenya's ruling National Rainbow coalition, including that of Vice President Kijana Wamalwa, political analysts predict, will have little impact on the president's promise to carry out massive reforms.
Michael Kijana Wamalwa, who was buried Saturday on his farm in Kitale, western Kenya, was widely regarded as a unifying force in the fractious National Rainbow Coalition, government.
He was the fifth top-ranking coalition functionary to have died since the government was sworn in last December. Meanwhile, President Mwai Kibaki was involved in a car accident and was also hospitalized for other ailments.
Political analyst and newspaper columnist Robert Shaw said the government is facing much greater challenges than the deaths of Mr. Wamalwa and the others. "I think this government has been unlucky, but I do not think it is in any way resulted in them saying that this will reduce their capacity to deliver. I think the real challenges for this government is to get a more cohesive team moving and to actually root out any of them that are not performing or any of them that are deemed to be corrupt," he said.
According to Mr. Shaw, the biggest challenge for political leaders is to take control of the government ministries that appear to be drifting without effective leadership.
A research fellow at the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, Preston Chitere, said one of the key problems of the ruling coalition is that its members do not appear to honor the power-sharing agreement they signed last year. "There is need for them to come together, to confront each other, to talk it out, and that is really the process of democracy at work," he said.
Mr. Shaw said the new government is also being tainted with allegations of corruption, which it had pledged to stamp out as a top priority. In the most recent case, local government Minister Karisa Maitha is under fire for his handling of a lucrative government contract. "Many people voted them in on the platform that they were going to reduce corruption," he said. "Yet we see a handful of them doing things as before, in some cases, almost worse."
Mr. Shaw says the government is also having problems deciding what measures to take to revive Kenya's moribund economy.