Commerce and manufacturers gradually introduced order and good government and with them the liberty and security of individuals, among the inhabitants of the country, who had before lived in a continual state of war with their neighbours and of servile dependency upon their superiors. (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations)
The quote above is a good starting point for the discussion. Mr. Smith who is widely recognised as the father of modern economics suggests that improved industry and commerce generally leads to good governance and political freedom. This sentiment is shared by amongst others, the late Prof. Milton Friedman in his book "Free to Choose". I assert that where Kenya is currently in terms of our politics is where England and generally Western Europe and North America was over 300 years ago. In a state where land owners and a few prosperous industrialists run the country to their benefit.

In many cases, we have heard of laws being made to further their commercial interests, government tenders being awarded to friendly businesses as well as just recently when elections are tampered with to the leader's benefit. While the last point could be controversial and even provide fodder for heated debate, there should be widespread consensus that Kenya is run by a few people, our democracy is only semantic and not real. Adam Smith further gives an account as to the political situation back when he was writing his great book circa 1776, in reference to the means of law making and governance he said;

It is a mistake to imagine that those territorial jurisdictions took their origin from feudal law. Not only the highest jurisdictions both civil and criminal, but the power of levying troops, of coining money, and even that of making bye-laws for the government of their own people, were all rights possessed allodially by the great proprietors of land

So far in this series, I have suggested that a lack of formal standardised property rights  have been the major cause of widespread poverty in Kenya. There are those within the bell-jar who are connected to each other through standardised property systems and there are those who live outside the bell-jar. Those outside the bell-jar then create as Hernando de Soto calls them "extra-legal" arrangements in terms of building a consensus at to what property means to them. In Kenya this is not new. A perfect example of political failure has been the "Mungiki", a group that was formed out of disillusionment over opportunities offered to the Kikuyu youth in Rift-Valley, that has slowly morphed into a national and even post-tribal organisation that organises business and property in areas in which the government has failed. In some people's estimates it is a multi-billion shilling organisation. In science we are taught that vacuums rarely exists, this also extends to life. Where the government has failed to work or basically ignored, there are people who are willing to intervene. 

I am not a fan of Mungiki, but it is hard to see how they can be eliminated. Police have resorted to killings and massacres and this has only strengthened them. The positive thing is that in many countries in the past, such mafia-like organisations have existed. In England in the 17th and 18th century, extralegal establishments in the "suburbs" were organised by mafia-like organisations who through extortion were able to finance their objectives. In Italy, government aloofness in areas like Sicily, helped fuel the growth of the Mafia. It is a case of someone always being willing to do the dirty work that nobody else wants to do. However to me it is a case of political failure. 

In most cities in developing countries, mass rural-urban migration lead to people living in the outskirts of the cities. These people often lived in informal settlements and offered informal services and run informal businesses. In Zambia, only 10% of the workforce is legally employed. This rural-urban migration was informed by people seeing opportunities to earn more in the capital cities vis a vis their rural homes. Cities like Nairobi, Cairo, Beijing and Lima mushroomed due to the growing populations. The urban folk (bell-jar people) were not welcoming as the new urban citizens littered the city, build "ugly settlements" and crowded their places. The governments in most instances responded through incentivising urban-rural migration or in our case did not respond at all. 

As Hernando de Soto points out, the failure was with the politicians who did not respond well. He gives the example of rural-urban migration in the west as well as foreigners moving to developed countries. In both instances the cities absorb the new inhabitants comfortably without much of a hustle. The key thing is that property systems in the west were able to adjust to the growing populations. This growing extra-legality has given fresh impetus to the growth of organisations such as the Mungiki.

Politicians in Africa and the developing world have no incentive to fix this situation. Adam Smith articulates this very well

In a country which has neither foreign commerce nor any of the finer manufacturers, a great proprietor having nothing for which he can exchange the greater part of the produce of his lands... consumes the whole in rustic spirituality at home. If this surplus produce is sufficient to maintain a hundred or a thousand men, he can make use of it in no other way than by maintaining a hundred or a thousand men... he is therefore surrounded at all times with multitudes of retainers and dependants, who having no equivalent to give in return for their maintenance... must obey him

It therefore becomes clear that politics and political debate is in a state of decay. Furthermore there is little scope for improvement as those in charge have no incentive to improve. The case of disgruntled urban migrants, Mungiki, poor subsistence farmers and extra-legal businessmen is one of despair. 

This then informs the argument as to why politics in Africa is so ethnic based and tribal. It should not be thought of as people wanting to vote for people from their tribe, but rather wanting to ensure that your keeper remains there. For if you have nothing to exchange for his/her maintenance, you must pay with political obedience. Politics in Africa for a long time will remain this way. Issues of left-wing, right-wing, conservative, liberal and centrist politics will remain an intellectual's folly. Capitalism or socialism will prove immaterial in Africa for as Hernando de Soto states;

What governments do not take into account... is that when people finally acquire property, they have their own ideas about how to use and exchange it. If the legal system doesn't facilitate the people's needs and ambitions, they will move out of the system in droves.

Our political system has failed and will continue failing unless there is a concerted effort to deal with property issues. Until then we are doomed to more tribal politics and the growth of Mungiki. If the relationship between government and Mungiki continues to be adversarial, we are likely to see more bloodshed.