Is Kenya Kwanza Government Being Haunted by “Deep State” and “System” Spirits?
In the recent past, the words “Deep State” and “System” have been used in the Kenyan political scene a lot. Leading up to the general elections of 2022, the words were mostly used by factions of the current government headed by President Ruto to refer to some dark forces in the then government working against his bid for the top government job.
In a remarkable fete of what could be genius and wit, Ruto managed to maneuver the system and clinched the presidency. Having triumphed over the so-called ‘deep state’ and ‘system’ which I will label the “dark spirits” altogether for this article, the use of the words ceased.
The most interesting thing though was that nobody ever said who or what those dark spirits were. However, the president’s foot soldiers were often quick to label senior political officials and civil servants in the Uhuru government as comprising the “Deep state” and “System.”
However, and going with the way things turned out after the general elections, one is tempted to argue against the use of specific individuals when the two words are used and rather look at the wider perspective of ideologies, structures, and cultures. It may sound confusing but I will try to unpack it albeit in the context of my own opinions.
To begin with, the word system is a widely used term, especially with the advent of the internet and technology. A lot of people could be conversant with the disciplines called or entailing computer systems, systems engineering and manufacturing systems among others. The common thing among the three examples used is the word systems.
In that context, the word system in an overall sense represents the same idea which only converges on certain key contrasts brought about by differences and in this case disciplines. That means that even while being used in the political sense, the principal meaning is more or less the same. So, what is a system?
A system is defined by Oxford languages as “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.” It also means, “a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.”
Perhaps those who chose to use the word system did so arbitrarily yet a keen consideration could unmask the possibility of a haunting by that same ‘system’ they alluded to today. Not because it is Ruto who is president but by the fact that maybe the ‘systems’ spirits are simply lodged in governments waiting to take custody of whoever comes in as president. Let us pause here for a moment.
Now let us consider the term deep state. The Macmillan dictionary defines it as a “network within government believed to pursue its own aims.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary further states, “an alleged secret network of especially nonelected government officials and sometimes private entities (as in the financial services and defense industries) operating extralegally to influence and enact government policy.”
What these two statements mean is that any government at any time comprises its own machinery that comprises the deep state so to say. The scary part is that these “deep state” are non-elected officials and sometimes private entities. If there is any influence they enforce as a body, it is through the enacting of government policy and behind-the-curtains lobbying.
Considering the meanings of these two words, one thing stands out clearly, they are not unique in the sense they were being applied. For example, systems are and have always been in place on how things are done. That is why things were still running as the transition period was being managed throughout the early days of the Kenya Kwanza administration up until this day.
And in the case of the deep state, what happened was a transition. Out into the bin might have gone the “old deep state” and in came the “new deep state.” It is no secret that a lot has been said about who wields power in the Ruto government and some of those that get mentioned are non-elected persons.
David Rothkopf made it clear that the power of the deep state comes from experience, knowledge, relationships, insight, craft, special skills, traditions, and shared values. Together, these purported attributes make nameless bureaucrats into a super-government that is accountable to no one. That is a scary prospect.
Scary as it may sound, it is the bitter truth. Very few people are new to the government if the appointments made so far are anything to go with. These are people who have been in government for some lengthy right from President Ruto, his deputy Riggy G and a majority of their entourage and in whichever capacities they have served before.
That is why this piece of writing began by introducing the aspect of ideologies, structures, and cultures visa vis individuals. The reason for this is the remarks made by the economic advisor to President Ruto, Dr. David Ndii about the fact that the Kenya Kwanza government is wasteful. Honestly speaking this is not something new under the sun.
We have seen funny expenditures in the past and we wondered who authorized them. So the system in terms of procedures and culture of spending in government is an inherited ghost that one cannot fight and win over in a day. Though that doesn’t mean that it cannot be curtailed. For a fact, serious changes need to be made in government spending today if we are to salvage the situation of our economy.
The state banquets and exorbitant budgets for cars and offices and refurbishments are ever-lurking spirits that are always waiting to act irrespective of who is in office during transitions. The only difference is the intensity of invoking has been higher this time around.
In terms of the deep state, perhaps the fact that it operates behind the curtains, means that unless one takes a very keen interest to observe how things happen, they may never be able to even think it does exist. “Deep state” often comes to life when someone lodges an offensive attack.
Yet by looking at how policies and some key decisions are taken – sometimes – with the nonverbal indication of crossed fingers behind those in power’s backs, one can decode the true power wielders and wheeler-dealers. Usually, it is only a matter of time before the curtains fall and it becomes clear whose interests are being served.
With the current economic woes and the realization by the government that perhaps casting the hook at abstract things like systems and the deep state beforehand might have acted to elicit their dark spirits into action, we can only hope things turn all right soon. No wonder the awe and surprises are slowly dimming with the realization that now the people need delivery of promises and they need them very soon.