KAMPALA – From a historical perspective, I wish to remind the readers that the Republic of Kenya has had four Presidents from independence out of which three are Kikuyu and the other a Kalengin.
Any open minded Kenyan would tell that tribes don’t matter in politics so long as an elected President is willing and able to select a well balanced team to steer the country to political, social and economic heights.
Atleast Kenya’s history has proved tribal agitators right, the Presidency does not have to rotate from the Kikuyu to the Kalengin and then from the Kalengin back to the Kikuyu, any able person from any tribe can be President.
I have heard many Kenyan ask, why the Presidency should be a preserve of the Kikuyu and the Kalengin as if there are no able people from other tribes. Of course the question was redundant but who cares, Elections everywhere revolve around money and power.
The one who has money can bribe the voters, bribe the security organs, bribe election officials, look after the judiciary as well as election observers and manipulate the electoral process; that is what matters in Africa.
To date, the Luo and other tribes believe that since the two immediate outgoing Presidents are Kikuyu, it should be obvious that the next leader should come from elsewhere so that other tribes are given a chance to rule the country.
No wonder Raila Odinga despite his odds believes he is better placed to win the next elections just because he has a “backing” of the outgoing President. If the 2017 coalition campaign slogan was true that Uhuru would serve his second term and hand over to Ruto for another 10 years, then Uhuru is a liar and a user and should never be trusted.
The slogan meant that the Kikuyu would serve for two terms and then hand over to Ruto- a Kalengin for another ten years. Uhuru Kenyatta has since abandoned or forgotten his promise and is now busy attacking Ruto to clear the ground for Raila Odinga.
I am one of those who silently believed the handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila could have been a tool to hoodwink Raila to abandon the idea of a western world sponsored power sharing deal. Prior to the handshake, there was tension with Raila laying claim to the presidency, and his camp questioning the legitimacy of President Kenyatta’s election which saw Raila like Uganda’s Besigye stage a mock swearing-in as the people’s president. Pushed to the corner, Uhuru stage managed a ceremonial handshake with Raila Odinga without the involvement of his Deputy. How honest or sincere was the hand shake?
For some of us who have been following Presidential elections in Africa, we know that sometimes a President can appear to support a particular candidate with the aim of diverting the attention of haters especially the former colonial masters. It happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Kabila’s hitherto choice was fought by western influences only to discover that Kabila’s real undercover choice was the current President Felix Antoine Tshekedi. Since that strategy worked, anything can happen in Kenya.
Uhuru’s attacks towards Raila in the previous two elections speak a different language from what he is portraying today. On 5th November 2015, Uhuru described Raila as a bully who does not want peace of Kenya. Now that the narrative has changed, does Uhuru want a bully President for Kenya? Similarly, I don’t think Uhuru has ever forgiven Raila who was the master mind of the 2017 Presidential election petition that annulled his victory. I don’t think that Uhuru Kenyatta has or will ever forgive Raila Odinga, if he does, then it is yet another marriage of convenience that will end in abuses, insults, tears and hate.
It is again on record that the Jubilee alliance led by Kenyatta has previously said promoting or pushing Odinga in central Kenya is like selling a pig in Saudi Arabia. I cannot wait to see Uhuru marketing Raila among the Kikuyu as an item on sale. If Uhuru hated Ruto that much, he would have identified a more formidable successor, not his life time enemy Raila Odinga who is said to have been the pressure behind the 2007 ICC charges that were slapped on Uhuru Kenyatta and other Kenyans.
Many African leaders are now aware that the ICC was created to persecute and to knock out potential patriotic presidential candidates or sitting Presidents not willing to endorse their agenda. There is no doubt the ICC is the tool used by the western world to eliminate and determine who becomes President in Africa. Surely with the unjustified ICC threat hanging around Ruto’s neck, there is a likelihood that Uhuru is playing mind games to divert the attention of ICC from pursuing the charges and then make a u turn at the last minute. I am more than convinced that Kenya’s fifth President will be William Ruto irrespective of the odds playing against him but none the less, let me address the question; is Raila a Uhuru Kenyatta Project?
At a function in western Kenya late last year, Oburu Odinga boasted that his younger brother Raila had finally found the formula to win the presidency in the year 2022. To him, there was something missing and that something is called ‘system” and according to him, “system” means President Uhuru Kenyatta who is holding the system. I personally don’t think this “system” argument holds any water. However, Uhuru has of late lost his cool and has of late embarked on using arrogant and strong word like “ujinga in reference to those that he does not agree with during his speeches.id he doing this because he has completed his term or he is actually soiling the name of his new found alliance with Raila Odinga.
It is on record that Mwai Kibaka once served as Vice-President under Daniel Arap Moi, a position that was changed to what is now called Deputy President and occupied by William Ruto. Just like William Ruto, Kibaki was not Moi’s preferred choice for successor but Uhuru Kenyatta on the KANU ticket. Kibaki went on to win the election with the input of the outgoing President. It is thus not enough to imagine that the outcome of the infamous handshake and Uhuru’s endorsement is an automatic victory for Raila Odinga.
Has anybody bothered to find out why Dr William Ruto is being respectful to Uhuru Kenyatta, why he not making any hard statements or direct attacks on Uhuru. Has anybody found out why Uhuru has not come up with any suggestion to impeach Ruto for not performing the duties of his office? Is somebody trying to balance power by giving other regions a chance to provide a President or somebody is being mindful of the fact that he did not get much support from the Luo in the past elections and that the Luo should see him in future as a good man who tried to throw power at their doorsteps?
This seems to be the mathematics behind Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to support a man he has previous advised to give up on politics. If indeed there is a change of heart for the sake of ethnic balance, maybe he should have considered Kalonzo Musyoka if he had no other option. There is no doubt Uhuru Kenyatta’s new found love for Raila has nothing to do with his abilities; Kenyatta knows it for a fact that Raila Odinga is the last persons anyone would consider placing at state house.
If indeed Kenyatta has any intentions of marketing Raila, he should consider giving Ruto credit where it is due. How do you work with a man as your Deputy for 10 years and then you allocate the achievements to yourself and then the blame, failures and the mistakes him? I think Ruto made an equal contribution within the Jubilee administration. What is true is that Ruto’s role as Deputy President in the last two years of the second term was merely ceremonial; the President had behind his Deputy’s back assembled a new set of people led by the Cabinet Secretary to execute Ruto’s mandate.
The puzzle that remains hanging on a thread is why Uhuru opted to pay his allegiance to Raila Odinga and not his outgoing deputy President. Was the Uhuruto alliance a marriage of convenience that would end up in tears? Were their differences so big that they were irreconcilable or the two are simply hoodwinking Raila Odinga with an artificial fallout? Now that Uhuru has served his two terms as President, why would he want to mend fences with the Luo community at the expense of a man that has served him diligently as Deputy President for two consecutive terms?
Raila Odinga is on record for having boycotted the re-run of the 2017 Presidential elections arising out of the decision of the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Election Petition No. 1 of 2017. To Raila, many of the findings and recommendations of the Supreme Court were not looked into meaning Raila could be cheated again unless he has a chief cheater by his side. Why is he insisting on contesting again? At the age of 77+ years, Raila Odinga would have broken a record in this era for being the oldest Presidential Candidate in Kenyan politics. Kenya’s former President Arap Moi threw in the towel in the year 2002 when he was 77 years. Mwai Kibaki was about 76 when he contested for his second term 81 when he called it quits. At 77+ in the year 2022, it means Raila Odinga will be 87+ if he intends to serve Kenya for two terms which is equivalent to 10 years.
The Mount Kenya tycoons who are backing Raila Odinga know it for a fact that Raila Odinga will not serve beyond one term of five years and will not dare interfere with their ill gotten wealth. What could be the long term benefit of the Mount Kenya tycoons pushing the Raila project, are they doing it on the instructions of Uhuru Kenyatta. I think the reasons are selfish and well calculated. Before long, they may have intentions of fronting another young energetic Kikuyu to carry the mantle with their support, for they have amassed a lot of wealth and can decide who ascends to state house. By doing so, they will have erased any chances for Gideon Moi, a son to former President Daniel Arap Moi to assume a tenancy at state house.
It is alleged that one of the reasons why Uhuru fell out with Ruto was because information leaked that Ruto had approached Ruto to form an alliance yet another school of thought that the reverse is true. Of course if the claim is true, it means any alliance if at all would see Raila Odinga become the running mate and if successful become the Deputy President which I don’t see Raila accepting. Recall Ruto has completed his un-renewable 10 years as Deputy President. My feeling is that there is a possibility that it is Ruto who first approached Raila with the proposal but because of Raila’s ego, he felt undermined. At his age, Raila expects nothing but the Presidency. This makes me feel Raila could have reported Ruto to Uhuru.
There is no doubt Raila’s entry into the Jubilee matrix necessitated that Ruto creates space for the new born child Raila Odinga with a fear that there were hidden cards in the handshake at Harambe House doorsteps where Uhuru seems to have picked interest in building his legacy for the future.
Who knows; maybe Uhuru has future intention of fronting another Kenyatta for the Presidency and may need the support of his former enemies. In retaliation, Ruto kept a low profile and yet in the backyard started constructing a standalone strategy with a view of pecking on some of the achievements of the Kenyatta led Government. It is said that Ruto spent less time in office but more time touring development projects which later earned his camp the name Tangatanga.
What makes me believe that the fall out is genuine was when the visibly irritated Uhuru issued an executive order putting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in charge of state projects, a mandate that was entirely under Ruto’s docket.
The President further banned launches of any project unless approved by the Cabinet committee chaired by the Interior Cabinet Secretary. Ruto changed his strategy and embarked on preparing his ambitions in church pulpit. What had began as a rumour was let out of the bag by Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe who told Ruto they would not back him for Presidency but Raila Odinga.
As the 9th June 2022 Presidential elections in Kenya continue to take shape, the contest seems to have been scaled down between “hustlers” and “dynasties”.
In Kenya, hustlers refer to those – especially young people – who struggle to make ends meet in an economy that is said to be no longer working for them. The word dynasty, on the other hand, is a moniker to describe wealthy families that are seen to have dominated politics and the economy since independence. President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition politician Raila Odinga have been put in the latter category. The phrases Kenya Kwanza or “Hustler Nation” was coined by Mr Ruto while Azimio La Umoja is a brain child of Raila and it appears its “patron” Uhuru Kenyatta. With just five month to the final election, Uhuru Kenyatta will have no choice but to hand over power and immediately vacate state house for Ruto and his family to occupy atleast for five years.
Roger Wadada Musaalo is a Lawyer, human rights activist, researcher, and politician