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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Changing Fortunes, Voter Become Boss

How times change? It was a humbling experience listening to the hitherto combative ex-security minister Christopher Ndarathi Murungaru on radio implore the Kalenjins to change their hearts and vote for Kibaki.

Only election time has the magic to make our politicians appreciate their voters as the boss. Flanked by the diminutive ex-PC Joseph Kaguthi and Kanu chair Uhuru Kenya, Bw Murungaru figuratively went down on his knees to seek understanding and forgiveness from Rift Valley voters. What of the risk vote basket proving a nightmare for PNU even with propping of ex-President Moi?

Three musketeers?
The trio used the Kass FM studios to implore their targeted listeners to understand the origins of the hostility between the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu. Boy, is it becoming desperate with plenty at stake?

Contrasting Hon. Murungaru's passionate plea with the rivers of sweat in his glory days threatening to kusiaga, kusakanya and kubwaga press leaves you with apt description of scoundrels. Leaves you wondering, is it a case of desperate moments calling for desperate measures or chicken coming home to roast?

The beverage advert couldn't have put it any better: IMAGE/PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING. Going on air on KASS is one open admission (nay acceptance) of tribal tension and perception. Having three people sharing the same native language convince another to think outside the box is a paradox of sorts if you ask me.

Either way the strategy could backfire given the selection of the three and their place of birth. Na bado.


Tony said...

Kumekucha has become a shameless Pro ODM promoter. I do not disagree with your right to do. What i find infuriating is your arrogant pretentions to political expertise and pompous insistence on giving impartial advise to Kenyans on who said Kenyans should vote for while at the same time openly campaigning for Raila and ODM. Read the article below and understand the level of debate you should be using in your blogs to promoter democracy in Kenya. Yours has now become cheap bar talk.

The man who would be king
by Peter Ndiangui
Friday, 05 October 2007

Kenyans have watched with increasing consternation as Raila Odinga's popularity has surged in the opinion polls, riding on a wave of crowd-pleasing nothingness and incendiary rhetoric.

That the ODM candidate is a superior class of politician, one with his finger right on the pulse of public opinion is unquestionable, but even his most ardent supporters must have their minds dizzy with the extremity of his vacillation and his capacity for wowing crowds with a steady stream of bile and comedy. It is important that a politician win elections but the question must be asked, what is it all for? Is it simply a pursuit for glory? What is the intended consequence of ascension to State House. And for the voting public, what are the consequences of the realization that he almost never means what he says?

Nowhere in the constancy of rhetoric is there a genuine hint of a well-thought out raft of proposals, or indeed even of the embryonic rumor of an economic policy. But so hungry are the people, and so far removed from the feast at the table that their eyes are transfixed on the messenger and the boom of his voice. Their fickle attentions mesmerized and misdirected to their disadvantage, hearing only what they want to hear and seeing only what they want to see.

Over a steady fifteen years, carried along in no small part by our political immaturity and desire for ruthless, exploitative leadership, Raila has succeeded in creating for himself a brand as the enigmatic whitewasher, the man who can make black white and white, black. In the time since, he has arrogated to himself the name of Messiah, and with the consequent fanatical support, crafted an ability to resurrect the political fortunes of many an ugly politician, and with just as much ease to cast as a demon yesterday's angel. The avenger's sword has visited many a Kenyan politicians' throats, most recently that of Kalonzo Musyoka. A short time before that, it was William Ruto on who the war was waged. With stiff reminders that those with court cases would not be allowed to run for president, and that Sally and Henry Kosgei would be taken up to replace him if he did not comply. Now that he has, those court cases are really nothing but a distant memory.

At the last election, it was Raila's present running mate Musalia Mudavadi who was strung up on charges as the dark force behind Goldenberg, the largest fraud in Kenya's history. Now, however it is Prof. George Saitoti who must take the blame for those crimes as Musalia is made whiter than the snow. President Moi was also propped up in power by the NDP and Raila's energies, not just in the support given against James Orengo's vote of no confidence, but also in the steady buttressing that was supplied to KANU measures in that parliament and in the constitutional efforts of the turn of the century.

The less transported among Raila's supporters try to hide their discomfort by euphemizing his irresolution, or more frankly his deceitful nature, labeling these ‘tactical political moves', strategies aimed at reaching political goals. But even they must be wearied by having to constantly explain his capricious nature, a task that is not made any easier by the ODM's pretensions to the status of ‘reform party.'

Our memories as Kenyans are not the longest, a fact made clearest by the euphoric wave that saw Moi's former Vice President acclaimed as a reformer in 2002, against the better wisdom of such reformists as James Orengo. And that is the big lesson for Kenyans today.

Five years ago, a few weeks before the famous Tosha cry, Raila Odinga was in the media proclaiming the iniquity and unsuitability for national leadership of the NAK coalition. At that time, the LDP, Raila's party had been promoting Prof. George Saitoti as its candidate for the presidency. So it was that some Kenyans were surprised to see him championing Othaya MP Mwai Kibaki, the NAK (DP) candidate as the best possible one, only a few weeks later.

But those who knew the then LDP leader were not at all surprised, especially as the long-time Lang'ata MP has shown pedigree for just such caprice. Only three years earlier, he had through a key-ally Otieno Kajwang, brought to parliament a motion of no confidence against then Vice President Prof. Saitoti citing his involvement in the Goldenberg scandal. This attempt was thwarted only as the GEMA vote in parliament came to the defence of its brother. Still, it did not escape notice that the NDP crowd were even that early on, working with State House to clear the path to the Moi succession, a path in which Saitoti's position as heir-apparent was an obstacle. Raila and the NDP crowd were zealous in their campaigns against Saitoti, vigorously taking the vanguard against an MP from the party they were conducting a ‘cooperation' with. This was the true reason why NDP joined with KANU, and not some altruistic mission into the belly of the beast. In whatever way the old wizard Moi did it, Raila was under the impression that Moi would hand over to him. Here is their plan from Christmas Day 2000. Or as Raila would better explain it, Moi has the girl we are courting.

By early 2002, the anti-Saitoti campaign was taken further, when in the Machiavellian coup at Kasarani, Raila and NDP turned the knife in the professor's back, in the process showing off their democratic credentials. But later that year, in a bizarre turn-around following the realization that Moi had no intention of handing the country over to Raila, Saitoti was magically transformed into an angel of light. That sunny Kajiado day, so long gone from the collective memory must still nag at Raila's present beau, former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi, for it was then that he was announced as the chief villain behind Goldenberg.

When the Kroll Report was released recently, it was used as a weapon to bash the government about with, even as only two years ago, with much of that report public knowledge, Raila had castigated the Kibaki government for not leaving former President Moi alone. As late as last week, the indefatigable Lang'ata MP was brandishing his role in protecting Moi against the seizure of his Kabarnet Gardens home, a property that was State property until its appropriation by Moi. Louis Otieno tries to be diplomatic with him in this video here , asking questions about consistency and whether, 'it is Raila that decides who is innocent and who is guilty?' Raila even goes so far as to claim that William Ole Ntimama has never been accused of involvement in any scandal.

It is now the norm that on every issue, rather than provide leadership, the ODM candidate will simply pander to the basest instincts of the crowd he is addressing. His fanatical supporters are carried away by this and see his wavering but constantly extreme sentiments as alloyed to those of the ‘common man'. For the rest of the electorate however, it is important that we wake up to the tragedy we are walking into. Kenyans it is true are a bitter people, having for so long been let down by their government, but for a leader of such national importance to play with their emotions in the way Raila does is dangerous populism, especially as it is never backed with well-thought out solutions or structures. Remember the proposal to bring the Olympics to Kenya? Or to have the economy grow at a 20% clip per year? Remember the allegation that the Nairobi Stock Exchange was growing on the back of drug money ?

Worryingly also, the ODM leader displays an extremely violent streak, which cannot but be a harbinger of mayhem for Kenya. During his time in KANU, when the Muungano wa Mageuzi of James Orengo and Anyang' Nyong'o among others was agitating for a Wanjiku-led constitutional reform programme, the Lang'ata MP issued what could not have been more explicit orders for a violent disruption of a rally to be held in Kisumu. Remember that these were people merely agitating for reform, the true forces of Kenya's second liberation and not a collection of KANU youth-wingers. To attack the likes of Ooki Ombaka shows that for the NDP- Raila allied groups, there is no conscience in their politics. All that matters is compliance, and obeisance to the Dear Leader.

Yes, this is what Raila gets up to when he is in power. Whether enjoying explicit power in government or implicit power in Nyanza province, the ODM leader does not give an inch, and is not shy about blessing violence. The episodes involving Nazlin Umar in Kisumu are still fresh in the memory, but what of other victims of his intolerance of dissent. Does anyone now remember Edwin Ogonda Osir; does anyone remember Lawrence Akinyi Oile or the violence that imposed Shakeel Shabir as the Mayor of Kisumu? If not then let this report from the Daily Nation of November 2000 serve as a reminder. Last of all spare a thought for the Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, who was at the sharp end of the Lang'ata MP's ire. When the two found themselves sitting on Kibaki's front-bench, Raila subjected Kimunya to a quick sharp jab on the rib with his elbow. The danger here of course is that politicians of other parties and persuasions begin to look weak or irresolute in the eyes of the electorate, and are therefore likely to employ similar tactics whenever they can.

Even when the violence is not physical, it is passionate and just as persuasive. The message as always is quite clear, it is either my way or the highway, and there is no room for dissent. That SDP chairman James Orengo and former Rangwe MP Shem Ochuodho have now complied shows just how coercive the violence may be. In the first days of the new millennium, the two MPs were attacked by a mob so vicious that John Githongo in this report here says the aim appeared to be the murder of the two MPs.

So it is that we find ourselves facing an election with Raila Odinga on the ballot, and in the lead in all opinion polls. How he has got there is no mystery, and to the sins above, I would add the vicious anti-Kikuyu strain in his campaigns. What we find in Raila is a politician who has mastered more than anything a peerless ability to whip up the crowds. But no man has a leash on the consequences that such actions can bring out, especially not when he has shown as stark an intolerance for dissent as has the ODM leader. The consequences of a Raila presidency may well be starker than the polarisation we have suffered under Kibaki's presidency. For a reformist, the ODM leader has very few ideas on how he would rebuild the country, even as his history shows a higher probability that his election to State House will lead to a falling apart of the country.

This is not mere scare-mongering. The one constant strain we can distil from his career of the last 15 years is a clear and uncompromising intolerance. Massive pressure and intimidation are brought to bear on anyone who shows the slightest doubt. William Ruto and even Musalia Mudavadi (who for a brief moment told us of ODM's dictator) have all been brought into line. But some will still try to resist the domination.

No single political pact Raila Odinga has ever been involved in has survived longer than a couple of years. This is the case whether the pact is with a completely different party (for example Moi or Kibaki) or with colleagues who share the same goals as he does (for example the late Kijana Wamalwa, Orengo or Mageuzi). That Raila Odinga has shown himself incapable of change, and an implacable foe of peace demands that we do not vote for him.

Anonymous said...

The presence of the three individual from the same region goes to prove beyond reasonable doubt, at least in the minds of KASS FM listeners, that PNU is just a tribal party.

It further make nonsense of Moi's rallying call for the Kalenjin to support PNU since it is a national party while ODM is a tribal party. People have been left wondering the sincerity Moi with some thinking that Moi may be speaking in parable s at PNU's disadvantage.

If anything, the interview of the three strengtened the perception shared by the people of 'chego' the this government is all about Mt. Kenya.

Anonymous said...

Tony, the article you have posted is one sided and serves no purpose as to why you should question Raila's candidature.
If Kibaki was pro- change tell us where was he when section 2A was being discussed?
What did he say during the clammour?
Did he campaign for himself in 2002?
What did his friends/cronies say after the election regarding the constitution and other things?
Did he give any comment on the MOU and other issues that came up?
Did he not encourage tribalism by letting his ministers appoint their own tribesmen into KRA etc?
My personal opinion is that he does not respect anyone or any agreement and the silence is the rudest possible thing one can do.
He has never been good and will never been. I beleive there is no such thing as a good person but good institution and our hope for change through ODM is that they will constitutionalize and strengthen the institutions so that irrespective of who comes to power we do not have a president shamelesly dishing out districts b4 an election. It is disgusting, irritating and uncepptable!

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