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Chapter One— Creating Political Order
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The Kenyan Case

At the root of the shift from a multi-party to a single-party system lies a concern for securing short-run political order where community and economic divisions coincide. The aim is to win the adherence of elites and social groups (communal, class, or clientelistic) to government policies. Once in place, the single-party system creates an incentive structure that precipitates the rise of a "party-state." The presence of interest groups with financial bases and organizations independent of the people who inhabit the office of the president or the chief executive may slow or alter this process. Thus, both structural and institutional variables exercise critical influence over the character of "authoritarianism," and specifically over the relationship between party and state.

In Kenya, the rise of the party-state has occurred more slowly than in the other sub-Saharan countries where it has appeared, and the tendency has occasionally reversed itself, but it has taken place, nonetheless. Kenya came to independence with a multi-party parliamentary sys-


tem and two major political parties, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). It departed rapidly from the independence formula, as did most African countries, moving to a republican system of government with a strong president and to a noncompetitive party system.

In the early years of the Kenyatta government, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) was a weak party in which several semicorporate groups competed for influence. Of the two main groups, one was a cross-ethnic coalition that championed the interests of the landless, those engaged in small-scale farming, and low-skilled workers. Opposed to this "radical" or "populist" group was another cross-ethnic coalition that sought to expand opportunities for large-scale farming, for business, and, to some degree, for skilled labor. A third, less cohesive group made up of former KADU members, sought agricultural policies that benefited larger farming operations but limited free exchange of land between residents of different regions. Kenyatta kept party and administrative affairs separate from one another by maintaining KANU as a forum for debate between groups and using the administration to carry out education functions and tasks associated with the maintenance of public order.

Until Kenyatta fell ill in the mid 1970s, most efforts on the part of politicians to try to strengthen the party and enforce a particular point of view or program met with failure. Although Kenyatta was not a champion of multi-party competition and believed firmly that Kenya could thrive only if there were a single political party, he favored a system tolerant of diverse points of view—within limits. For example, in 1965, members of the populist wing of the party tried to establish a training institute for KANU officials. Allegedly financed with funds from Communist bloc countries, Oginga Odinga, one of Kenyatta's vice presidents, and Bildad Kaggia, a former leader of the struggle for independence, laid the groundwork for a Lumumba Institute.[54] The effort lasted only four months, however. Opposition came partly from the members of the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), KANU's competitor in the independence elections, then rapidly disappearing because of defections of its membership to KANU. Opposition came also from Daniel arap Moi, most likely at the instigation of Kenyatta, who, in his role as father of the country, had earlier allowed the radical wing some leeway.

Why Kenyatta departed from the strategies of control many other African leaders pursued and favored a loosely organized, nonmobiliza-


tional party is not entirely clear. Some have speculated that the decision reflected Kenyatta's personal predilections. Another argument is that he had been in jail during the party's first year of existence and may have wanted to avoid rewriting the party's founding documents to meet his own tastes.[55] Kenyatta was a shrewd politician and probably realized that fragmentation and political instability would result from any effort to force competing interests, released by the triumph of the nationalist cause, into a single mold through a detailed program. Instead, he could foster national unity by diverting the attention of politicians to debate over the platform of a penniless political party while he himself maintained contact with all sides and cultivated the role implicit in his honorific title of Mzee, the "old man." He chose to reign rather than to rule.[56]

By the early 1970s, the pattern of the immediate post-independence period had started to change. The late 1960s had witnessed first the censure of the "radicals" within KANU, then the elimination of the splinter party formed to carry the populist program forward by a change in the electoral rules. The remaining semicorporate groups that had earlier debated one another at party functions and in Parliament began to give way to factions organized around high officials or elites with access to the Office of the President. The defense of the political space that politicians needed to build platforms and electoral support became increasingly difficult. With the fragmentation of earlier coalitions, there were few individuals or groups willing and able to bear the costs of defending the right of association. The ability to contest policy diminished, although not without short-term reverses when the individuals surrounding the ailing president found that it was in their own interest to maintain civil liberties. The division of functions between party and administration that had prevailed earlier continued.

By 1982, the old internal divisions within KANU had given way almost completely to a fragmented and shifting array of factions, and the implementation of restrictions on political space began to occur rapidly, with little objection from members of Parliament. Under the new president, Daniel arap Moi, the administration and the party began to trade functions. Increasingly, the leaders of the party owed their offices to the president and, by 1989, half the members elected to Parliament occupied ministerial positions. The distinction between the personnel attached to the State House and those attached to the management of the party eroded in practice, as did the distinction between the holders of


elective office and the administration. The middle- and lower-level KANU officers and politicians lost most of their role in national policy making, although they maintained their ability to seek local projects and to quiz ministers on the performance of their programs. The party became dependent upon the provincial service for collection of membership fees, and the service, in turn, became more heavily involved in determining which citizens had to be able to produce party membership cards. The party acquired some new roles, too, although some of these elicited discontent from members. Beginning in the early 1980s, party branches acquired surveillance functions through the creation of youth wings and disciplinary committees, for example, as well as responsibility for helping the administration maintain public order.

These changes in the character of the party and in the allocation of functions between the government and the party correlated with change in three independent variables. First, the incentives for interregional and interethnic bargaining diminished steadily from the early 1970s on, slowly undermining the informal "rules of the game" that had long promoted trust and compromise in Kenya's divided society. Second, within the party, the replacement of organized interests by multiple, ad hoc factional groupings made it increasingly difficult to protect the political space of opposition politicians against encroachment by the Office of the President. Third, the rate at which the country moved toward a party-state from a loose, single-party system varied depending on the ability of opposition groups to acquire either financial bases or international attention independently of the State House.

At no time, whether under Kenyatta or under Moi, did the State House rely exclusively on one strategy for securing political order. The Kenyatta government was well acquainted with techniques of political intimidation, including use of detention laws and violence.[57] Nonetheless, it distinguished itself from governments in comparable African countries and from its successor government in its willingness to live with a weak, faction-ridden governing party, some toleration for political competition or association outside the governing party, greater reliance on the efforts of civil servants in place of party officials to persuade farmers and other citizens to adhere to chosen policies, and its creation of a semi-institutionalized form of patronage or compensation. This strategy made possible the operation of a proportionality rule in the allocation of many types of development resources and in the allocation of ministerial positions and senior party posts, where some groups, such


as the well-organized Kikuyu, accepted losses in relation to their past strength, in return for positions at the helm of new public enterprises or for contributions to their local communities.

It was the particular design of the compensation system, however, that permitted Kenyatta to eschew the use of KANU as a vehicle for social and political control. The primary element of this strategy was the inauguration of a form of "self-help development" called harambee ("Let's pull together" in Swahili). Harambee was an innovative strategy for promoting development and for ensuring that at least some projects were consonant with local perceptions of need. It also had political objectives, however. At a self-help development fund-raiser, the local member of Parliament (MP) was expected to make a substantial contribution or gift. Indeed, failure to do so sharply diminished one's chances of reelection. As Kenyatta anticipated, however, harambee contributions constituted a significant financial burden for an MP, and an enterprising politician would almost certainly have to bargain for assistance from other, senior politicians, regardless of ethnic or regional background, and with the president in his capacity as a fellow politician. The politician's dilemma constituted a new means of creating political order. First, it provided group spokesmen with a material incentive to limit the claims they made against one another's communities; bids for disproportional benefit in the distribution of public resources would meet with an end to harambee contributions from politicians in other districts or regions. Second, it enabled the president, as a fellow party member, to compensate those MPs who compromised and accepted the State House's policy proposals from his own purse and from the private pockets of the country's leaders. Harambee contributions by the president, vice president, senior ministers, and spokesmen for ethnic groups provided the currency to build coalitions and compensate groups for losses in representation or share of resources. These private contributions to school construction projects, financing of cattle dips, purchase of choir robes, and so on, in return for smaller donations from community members, could improve the electoral chances of a member of Parliament who had relinquished a claim to continued Treasury support for an unsuccessful irrigation scheme, for example, or to continued high levels of expenditure on road construction in his or her constituency.

Beginning in 1978, the locus of political power and the locus of economic power began to diverge, and at precisely the same time economic conditions made perceived losses higher and "adequate" compensation more difficult. Under Kenyatta, the interests of the Kikuyu business


community, the only real source of capital formation other than the state, however small, corresponded substantially with those of the head of state.

Upon accepting the presidency, Moi faced a different situation. Moi, the man who managed the ruling coalition, was not a member of its largest subgroup. It was necessary to remunerate his Kalenjin support while maintaining the allegiance of other major groups, negotiating with greater numbers of key spokesmen, in consequence, and thus raising the costs of the Kenyatta style of governance. Absent these, the only access to resources was through the Treasury or through bribes and "shakedowns" on international business contracts. Emergence of a new opposition party seemed likely.

The disjunction upped the ante in two other ways as well. In the first place, the Kikuyu business community had deep pockets. The Gikuyu, Embu, and Meru Association (GEMA), a cultural society or "welfare union," was banned, along with other ethnic welfare societies, in 1980. It had previously amassed substantial reserves, however, and merely went underground, assuming the guise of Agricultural and Industrial Holdings, Ltd. The money remained to "bid up" any efforts by Moi to pursue Kenyatta's strategy. Second, economic problems and a burgeoning population changed the nature of the stakes involved. Whereas under Kenyatta the distributional issues confronting spokesmen for ethnic groups had primarily been about distribution of material benefits, such as roads or water facilities, under Moi they increasingly concerned the distribution of opportunity: access to education first, and then to land and employment. It is far more difficult to compensate for losses that affect long-term competitiveness, or social mobility, than it is to buy support for reducing funding of roads.

The second source of the shift to a "party-state" in Kenya was located in the incentive structure created by factionalism in a single-party system. The existence of multiple, shifting factions within KANU, the dominant party by 1967, made it more, not less, difficult to champion policies that affected the nation as a whole. Beginning in the mid 1970s, as Kenyatta became ill and devoted less attention to the trading of harambee contributions and other political capital for policy support, bids by one faction or another to strengthen the party by enforcing a single point of view became more frequent. At first, the tentative victor in this struggle was the "conservative" wing, led by one of the party's founders, James Gichuru. What his opponent, Oginga Odinga, had failed to do in trying to create a Lumumba Institute, Gichuru attempted once again,


seeking "revitalization" of the party. He met with the president's weakened but still significant opposition. The relationship between KANU and the State House remained unchanged, despite Gichuru's efforts, but the Gichuru faction succeeded in curtailing its strongest opposition within the party, a populist coalition led by J. M. Kariuki, who in 1975 became a martyr to his cause and to his campaign to defend the openness of the political system.

By the mid 1970s, the rights to associate and to travel had suffered several legal setbacks, which either failed to elicit a reaction from members of Parliament or encountered only the weak opposition of individuals unable to constitute organized bases of action. Resistance to the Office of the President and its efforts to restrict levels of political challenge in Kenyan society became increasingly difficult as factions multiplied and replaced the semicorporate groups of the post-independence period. The popular recognition of a difference between KANU A, the "old-timers" involved in the party since the independence negotiations, and KANU B, the political elite who had joined later, ignored a plethora of groupings that formed around individual men and women and came and went with the rapidly changing fortunes of their leaders. For most politicians, it appeared to make more sense to gravitate toward the particular "insider" who promised to secure a passport or a harambee license than to accept the risks and invest in the coalition-building necessary to oppose policies that permitted the selective issuance of passports to members of Parliament. If one insider failed to "deliver," then one turned to another.

Upon Kenyatta's death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi promoted faction as part of a strategy for limiting organized opposition and maintaining control. He used his constitutional power to nominate twelve members of Parliament to advance the political fortunes of allies or of individuals he believed posed little threat to his rule. He rotated politicians in and out of important positions, ensuring that factions would constantly form and re-form. Thus, major restrictions on the ability of Kenyans to associate and to debate policy passed through Parliament with relatively little opposition, ranging from the proscription of opposition political parties in 1982 to 1989 legislation that made "rumor-mongering" a crime.

By comparison with many African countries, the rise of the "party-state" in Kenya took place slowly and haltingly. That it did so reflected the ability of some interest groups or elements of civil society to mobilize opposition to restriction of political freedoms and fusion of govern-


mental and party functions outside of Parliament. In sub-Saharan countries such as Zaire, there is no such thing as a commercial class independent of government, and restrictions on political space arose before opposition groups were able to secure international ties that might enhance their bargaining power with their own governments.[58] In Kenya, although the business elite first developed its resources by cultivating very close ties with government, it became less dependent on the state than did the equivalent elites in most African countries. It has nonetheless lacked full control over any one sector of the economy. Further, those outside of politics who sought to protect civil liberties were quick to begin to cultivate international ties through churches, press organizations, bar associations, and even environmental groups. These groups have helped provide a check on the fusion of administrative and party powers or functions—sometimes more effectively so, sometimes less. They account for the rate at which the single-party system has evolved into a party-state and the way it did so. Eventually, aid donors intervened and used the leverage of control over loans to force Moi to legalize political opposition.

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Chapter One— Creating Political Order
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