Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Raila-Uhuru Unity Pact in Perspective

Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga after the meeting held at Harambee House.

Courtesy: Capital FM.

he new found camaraderie between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta surprised many people, perhaps with the exception of politicians who have mastered the art of sowing seeds of enmity during daytime and livening their friendship when night falls. Typical Kenyan politicians foot the bill of grand liars.

Equally surprised was the trio of Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula the so-called co-principals of the NASA coalition, which only exists by name, having hit a dead end following a series of unending suspicion and mistrust among the coalition’s parties.

With the trio labeled as the “Three Nigerians” following the narration of the trail of events on January 30th when Raila Odinga took the oath as the ‘People’s President’, daggers have been drawn in NASA coalition with the enigmatic politician accused of betraying the coalition’s cause; the pursuit for electoral justice.

Infuriated with the Raila-Uhuru pact, the three ‘musketeers’ – Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula – bemoaned the failure to be consulted, and initially they didn’t endorse the agreement between the sons of Jaramogi and Jomo save for Kalonzo who sounded evangelical at a funeral stating how the ‘handshake’ was a great relief to him. 

Lately, though, the embattled ‘musketeers’ have expressed their desire to meet with Uhuru Kenyatta. This came after they realized that they were flirting with the state of political isolation; never mind that the trio is a spineless lot with none of them having neither the capacity nor capability to craft, oil and propel a powerful political machine at the national level.

Far from the intrigues surrounding the Harambee House meeting, a significant proportion of the Republic’s citizens, including the disgraced Kenyan politicians, have expressed support for the two – Raila and Uhuru – in their quest to unite the country.

It is hypocritical not to acknowledge the country’s tainted image as a polity whose national politics is premised on ethnic political formations. But, the million dollar question is whether the latest political development orchestrated by Uhuru and Raila qualifies as a critical juncture that will change the course of the Republic’s national politics for the better.

To state that the Raila-Uhuru deal on building the bridges of nationhood is the real deal in transforming Kenya’s national political architecture only amounts to a blatant bluff, hell bent on ignoring the history of political agreements in the Republic.

An astute observer, insightful analyst as well as a diligent student of Kenyan politics will submit to you that political agreements in Kenya are meant to serve the personal interests of the politicians and not the collective interests of the citizens. It is no wonder that such agreements can be dishonored with the differing politicians forging other alliances while publicly declaring their previously deemed political friends as enemies. Who gets hoodwinked? The ignorant citizens.

Motives of the Unity Agreement
A number of factors are believed to have occasioned the political agreement between the party leaders of the Jubilee Party and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party; ranging from the would-be genuine factors to conspiracies hatched by the legendary and illusionary conspirators. 

The factor that stands out is the visit by the immediate former Secretary of State of the government of USA Rex Tillerson. In as much as various sections of the Kenyan public view this factor as simply coincidental with the Raila-Uhuru meeting, I am convinced that Uncle Sam played a great role in cementing the deal between the two. 

USA is leading the quite obnoxious and vague War on Terror, and the East African region is considered a strategic segment of the African arc in regards to America’s global geopolitical interests.

Any real or perceived division in Kenya’s national politics is believed to significantly energize insurgent groups like the Al Shabaab. And with Kenya mapped out as a very strategic ally to USA, then Washington had to run up and down to bring Raila and Uhuru on the table while dangling carrots such as financial rewards among other material benefits. Are Raila and Uhuru not corrupt?

Secondly, the issue of legacy of the two political leaders is thought to have triggered the meeting. The sons of the Republic’s first President and first Vice President have the intentions to be remembered as having greatly contributed to the healing of an ethnically polarized country. But I highly doubt if their agreement on unity is an elixir that will enable Kenya to be a nation.

And by the way, legacy is to a politician as reputation is to a well-mannered person. At least Kenyan mainstream politicians have no reputation at all bearing in mind their wayward nature and weird mannerisms. 

Thirdly, Raila Odinga may have chosen to embrace the if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them mantra. In as much as the 2017 presidential election was a charade and a typical monkey business affair, Raila Odinga clearly ran out of options in felling down the corrupt Jubilee administration using gung ho tactics and the trench techniques.

So he may have decided to cooperate with the Jubilee administration to finish it off from within. 

For proper understanding of the former premier’s new found dalliance with his former deputy in the Grand Coalition administration, it is important to revisit Raila Odinga’s political past though in selective terms.

After the 1997 presidential election in which Daniel Moi rigged to emerge victorious despite a divided Opposition, Raila Odinga endeared himself to the ‘professor’ of Kenyan politics, leading to the historical cooperation and thereafter merger between the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and the National Development Party (NDP). The result: dissolution of NDP and formation of ‘New KANU’. 

Raila’s move then was informed by the 2002 succession politics and the possibility that KANU would fail to have a strong and convincing presidential candidate. And the end of the day, Moi embraced ‘Project Uhuru’ and Raila led a mass walk-out of previously KANU diehards from the cockerel party.

Fourthly, the 2022 succession politics may have led to the unity agreement. This factor is informed by the previous (third) one. The doubt is whether Raila will contest for the presidency or not, but the certainty of the answer lies within the two possibilities. 

If he is to vie in 2022, then he won’t be supporting William Ruto and chances are that he might pick a running mate from the Mt. Kenya voting bloc. In case he doesn’t make a fifth stab at the presidency, then Raila Odinga will support William Ruto with the former’s family members and intimate friends assured of a good number of slots in the would-be William Ruto’s administration. 

What if Raila is to support two of the three ‘musketeers’, either Kalonzo or Mudavadi? This certainly means that he has to finish off the Jubilee Party from within and totally emasculate it. But chances of this happening are extremely minimal as the “Three Nigerians” failed to act courageously when it mattered most – during the January 30th swearing in – and Odinga may thus choose to support Ruto rather than the namby-pamby trio. 

Unsettled Questions & the Future
Will the embers of the Third Liberation flicker out since ODM’s cooperation with the Jubilee Party has rendered the National Resistance Movement-Kenya headless? Raila Odinga was a key figure in the struggle and birth of the Republic’s Second Liberation, and he is on record affirming the unstoppable journey towards the Third Liberation. 

Revolutionary-minded and youthful personalities must now learn to chart their own path and break away from the shadow of the former Prime Minister. How feasible is this though? If only the young and progressive minded individuals believe in themselves.

Who will check the incompetency, malaise, excesses and maladministration of the Uhuru Kenyatta administration? In the last five years, Raila Odinga effectively checked the wrongs committed by the Jubilee administration, unraveling one scandal after the other. 

With the new found camaraderie, just who will stand up and criticize the Jubilee administration for its missteps and mistakes? The three ‘musketeers’ are not equal to task neither are the other 2017 presidential candidates. 

What happens to the fight for electoral justice? NASA’s push for far-reaching electoral reforms has hit a snag. As a matter of fact, NASA is primarily dead with its death awaiting the mortician’s mega proclamation. 

Going forward, the youthful and reform-minded Kenyans must reflect and take the responsibility of liberating the Republic of Kenya from the old order. A good number of young Kenyans are already compromised and corrupted by the system, but the struggle for liberation shouldn’t wane neither should it be expected that the ‘Kenya We Want’ will dawn any time soon. It is a long struggle. 

For Raila Odinga, his political career is in its sunset years yet many people still look up to him for leadership. He has done a lot for the country but changing tact and deciding to dine with the corrupt and rogue Jubilee regime is an act of political immorality.

Joining hands with the Jubilee administration can only be acknowledged if social, economic and political injustices will be effectively addressed through proper implementation of the Republic’s Constitution. 

The new found camaraderie is a cosmetic and superficial move towards realizing national unity as political interests will override the intended objectives.

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