I’m in Nairobi for a bit and the hottest news at the moment is Karua’s resignation.
I have no doubt (and I have it on good authority) that she was indeed being frustrated in her role as Minister of Justice – apparently Gicheru has way more sway than she did with the ‘baks, however, lets be clear that this is also about positioning for the next election or any possible fallout of the coalition government. And its not about her being scared of the censure vote, she was going to win that one hands down with ODM’s support. In any event, I have to give her props for at least not complaining about the govt while drawing a fat salary and doing deals. That’s one reason why Kibaki can’t take Raila’s hissy fits seriously, he’s like “dude, can we revisit the maize and your son’s scandals first?”
I had the opportunity to chat with Karua one on one when I was in Geneva last week (I actually had a post on that pending oh well). I have to say that I was impressed with her despite myself and my preconceptions of her. She is brilliant, articulate, on point, ambitious and a straight shooter. Unlike most politicians I’ve met who thrive in trivialities when I tried to talk to them, she was engaging and seemed to enjoy the fact that I wasn’t brown-nosing her. Do I disagree with a lot of things she has said and done? Hell yes (and I’m not like totally gaga about her). But shock on me, I kinda liked her.
[An aside, has she ever been linked to a corruption scandal?]
One of the things we discussed was the issue of old fogies dominating Kenyan politics. I argued that this was one of the biggest problems with Kenyan politics. Karua shot back that this Parliament was the youngest we have ever had in Kenya, but the most corrupt by far with some of the young MPs leading the way (in her words the biggest auction house in Africa). In her view, the current Parliament was even worse then when she entered into a 1992 Parliament full of octogenarians and Moi hands. She also felt that everybody (including civil society) should drop their partisan issues, come together and push for reforms and then guys can go their merry way to fight it out for the next elections. We then discussed her website (which had been hacked a while back), mzalendo, facebook and her online strategy in general – she admitted she was clueless when it came to using the internet to campaign but that she was very aware that it was a powerful medium and that she needed to be on point.
I wish her well in her run for office, like her or not, she has the potential to be a gamechanger.