By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
March 28, 2012

Najib Balala finally lost his ministerial flag this week in a mini reshuffle.
I didn’t know that Balala was in the Kibaki government as a Muslim.

I thought he was in the cabinet in his capacity as a Kenyan and a national leader.
If indeed Balala was in the cabinet to represent the Muslim community in Kenya then what were the clerics’ briefs to Yusuf Haji the current minister for Defence, Chirau Ali Makwere of Environment, Mohamed Kuti of Livestock and Ibrahim Elmi Mohamed of Northern Kenya still serving in the cabinet? Did the PNU Muslim ministers also sign a separate MoU with President Kibaki?

At the beginning of the coalition government, there were 11 ministerial positions occupied by Muslims, 6 permanent secretaries and five other national posts held by Muslims. Of all of them, only Aden Duale and Najib Balala have lost their jobs out of their personal choice to demonize the party that took them to Parliament. In the case of Duale, it was strange that a mere nominee of the party could turn against his party boss in such a vicious manner.

The world over, it is very normal for comrades in the party to fall out. When they do, appointees usually resign from the government citing either personal reasons or differences over policy matters; or better still, over ideologies. It is only in Kenya where politicians differ with their party leaders but cling to their government portfolios and parliamentary seats. In this country, they want to have their cake and eat it at the same time.

The National Muslims Forum, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya say they have nullified the MoU with Raila Odinga. Namlef now tells Kenyans five years later that the MoU with Raila was conditional upon Balala being appointed to the Pentagon and Cabinet. Did this MoU stipulate that no matter how badly Balala destabilized and undermined the ODM, he would never be removed from the cabinet?

Are these clerics aware that Kenya is not an Islamic State and for that matter not a religious state? Are they aware that as Muslims, they are a minority in this country and should not use that minority status to harass and intimidate other Kenyans, Raila Odinga and ODM included?

In the run up to the 2007 elections, many parties promised every community many things. Had things gone as planned, Musalia Mudavadi would today be the Vice President. William Ruto would probably have become the Prime Minister or something to that effect. It is therefore in bad taste and reckless for a few clerics to come out with ridiculous statements that have no use in modern Kenya knowing so well how things went wrong in 2007.

If all religious leaders with more votes than Muslims were to make demands on Kibaki and Raila for equitable representation in the cabinet, where would the Muslim community find itself?

This door to door campaign that these clerics keep harping on; how come it did not translate into 100% Muslim votes for either Raila or ODM?

This door to door campaign they want to unleash on Raila, will it work in Kericho, Kendu Bay, Kisumu, Rift Valley and Namanga where Muslims also reside? Was Balala the MP for Mvita or Muslims countrywide?

Is Hassan Joho not Muslim enough? Are Muslims the only people at the coast? Don’t we have Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and animists at the coast that need to be in government?

In my opinion, there are so many good Muslims in this country that are doing a wonderful job for all Kenyans. They are serving in very influential positions in the Office of the President and Prime Minister’s office. They are in parliament leading very influential parliamentary committees. We even have a Muslim serving as the Deputy Speaker, not to mention the chairman of the powerful Electoral Commission. Raila’s own office is headed by a Muslim. These are great Kenyans doing great things for Kenya.

They do not need a cleric based in Mombasa to tell them how to behave just like Christians do not expect their bishops and priests to tell them who to vote in office or not.

Let clerics deal with saving souls as politicians and technocrats get busy delivering services to the people of Kenya because we are a secular state pure and simple.

Raila will definitely need all Muslim votes based on his election agenda just like he will need the votes of other religious believers. However, this request for votes should not be used as ransom to favour Muslims, Christians or any other religious group beyond their quota in Kenya.

This country has 42 tribes, some of who have never heard of Islam or Christianity. They too need to be invited to the party. This diversity is what Kenya is all about; not petty, parochial and narrow sectarian interests.


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