In the heat of the nullified 2017 presidential election, I sent a text message to Raila Jnr, making a crude suggestion. As an aide to an active actor in the political arena then, I had a little acquaintance with him.
The message was that he asks his father, Raila Odinga, to “try and bury the hatchet with Uhuru and have him agree to support his candidature for presidency in 2022.”
I am not trying to make a claim that things are the way they are because of that suggestion but strategically, it looked like a sound option. It mattered to all of us that a resolution be found so temperatures cooled down.
The 2017 presidential contest was nail-bitingly close, and no genuine political analyst would have bullishly predicted the outcome.
And no election is ever clean as every actor does all that’s possible to win because there are serious interests underneath the struggle for power.
It thus must not have been a surprise for Raila and the Nasa camp when those responsible at the IEBC declined to heed the Supreme Court demand to open the servers.
Further, if one is to recall Raila’s admission after the 2007 elections that ODM rigged in their strongholds as PNU was said to have done, then why would 2017 be any cleaner considering the actors were just about same?
My suggestion to Raila Junior was based on a judgement and deep conviction that Uhuru and his camp would not be moved from their position that they had “fairly and squarely” won the election.
Raila’s advisers made a critical blunder after the nullification of the election when they told him to pull out of the rerun.
Precedence had already been set in other jurisdictions, where once the leading antagonist failed to participate, the winner announced after the first round went on to win and be declared the winner.
Since this was the first time Kenya was having a rerun, such an occurrence was going to have an impact insofar as the Supreme Court judges handled the second case, which the civil society filed, after Nasa opted not to petition again.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but had Uhuru decided to move on after the repeat election and ignored Raila, there is not much the latter would have done.
Although he reacquired the services of his 2007 adviser Miguna Miguna when things got thick, trying to make Kenya “ungovernable” was still an indeterminate prospect — it was like running very fast in the wrong direction, or punching hard in the dark.
Uhuru was legally in office, despite the opposition shenanigans. He had finished Raila politically. Kenyans did not want chaos. I can audaciously say that Uhuru did not save a Raila clutching at a straw, he resurrected him, politically speaking.
KALONZO 2022 MISCALCULATION
Whether ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi or Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula will go it alone or join forces with anyone else, the consequences are not definite as they may be the case with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka. Their bases have never been firmly behind them as Kalonzo’s.
Raila has won the majority of Luhya votes any time he has ran for president, thus he is practically the political kingpin of Western Kenya.
On the other hand, however, Raila has never infiltrated Ukambani — and it is not because he has never needed that vote, he has twice chosen Kalonzo as his running mate.
Kalonzo’s political bedrock has been steady behind him and it earned him the vice presidency in 2008, despite the challenges that rocked the 2007 elections. However, while the Wiper leader remains the de facto political prefect of Ukambani, there is no guaranteeing that this will remain the case going into the future looking at his many challengers there, especially Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.
His most significant bargaining point has been his relevance at the national political negotiating table, and not his Midas touch.
The recent political duel in Machakos in March, where the senatorial seat was up for grabs, saw Deputy President William Ruto make inroads and almost embarrass Kalonzo. But Kalonzo got a shot in the arm from Uhuru.
For starters, Agnes Kavindu who became his candidate, had been a Jubilee member. And even though he may have seen it an opportune moment to embarrass his former confidant, former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama by choosing his ex-wife, most importantly meant Kalonzo must have seen an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with Uhuru.
It is also rumoured that Uhuru was behind the withdrawal of Maendeleo Chap Chap candidate Mutua Katuku from the race, which is believed to have given Kavindu a boost.
Mutua appears to be devotedly heeding Uhuru’s dictates. He recently accompanied Raila to Murang’a, in a delicate visit, and the ODM leader wouldn’t mind a younger and more determined leader from Ukambani, though this may appear farfetched for now.
In the campaigns of 2007 Kalonzo made a comment that we could use to gauge how far he could drift from realpolitik today. He said, “Power is not given to anyone on a silver platter.
“He echoed his own words again in 2019 at a funeral in Machakos saying, “This is political warfare, power has to be grabbed; you must have a conviction why you want to be in power.’
These statements portray a man in sober grasp of the nature of politics. However, his current approach as far as One Kenya Alliance is concerned appears to be out of touch with the reality of politics.
Kenyans prefer strong leaders and it is this aspect that built the Raila brand exponentially.
The 1982 coup story and his aggressive politics were not a detractor but a builder of a household name. This is the reputation of defiance that Uhuru and Ruto carried mobilising their strongholds in 2013,even with the ICC beckoning.
This is something that Mudavadi, Wetang’ula and Kalonzo cannot boast of when providing “a safe pair of hands for Kenya”. There is no strength in weakness.
The Kalonzo of 2007, who bolted out of the Orange brigade when roughed up at Tononoka by the nyundo-wielding Raila stooges, must return. He must raise his soft baritone to a roar and from inside a sheep shelter he must go out to the jungle.
UHURU BRINGS FISH
Repetition is a powerful communication tool. Some in the Mt Kenya region, especially the masses who were fed Railaphobia for years, might not have expected Uhuru to support Raila, or even vaguely condone his proximity.
What people forget is that the tribal card is only used to divide and rule. At the high table, where the owners of big capital commune, it is what you own and what the clique share that makes you indispensable or usable— not your tribe. This is where private political communication happens, what the public never hears.
The first time Uhuru gave an indication he would support Raila was in November 2018 in Nyeri, when he said his pick for 2022 “will shock you”. This was a departure from his commitment to support Ruto after his two terms as president, which he repeatedly mentioned on the 2017 campaign trail.
However, the “will shock you” statement was unwarranted because he was under no pressure to make it, and 2022 was still far away. Yet it demonstrated a man resolute about the political direction he would take.
At that juncture, he confirmed he would be interested and actively involved in defining Kenya’s next President. It showed his cognizance of the power and potential his stature harbours towards bringing that forth. It showed intent that he would begin a process of making it happen.
“Some think I have kept quiet because I am not capable of talking politics. I am still a politician. They will be shocked when that time comes, but for now I want to concentrate on delivering my pledges to Kenyans,” he said.
This statement showed a man keen on securing certain interests.
No African president, more so an entrepreneur, would prop up another presidential candidate for ornamental reasons only. Although the Kenyattas and the Odingas have had a bittersweet history, it is also punctuated by personal sacrifice.
Ruto and Uhuru purely did political business, which lacks anchoring in the heart because Ruto got his 50 per cent.
The Raila juggernaut is likely to bury a lot of political muscle because it is an Uhuru contraption.
For the first time, Raila has won the private political communications aspect. He has always only got the support of Royal Media chairman SK Macharia. Businessman Jimi Wanjigi was a small fish in a massive pond.
With Uhuru, it is like the story of Jesus who ordered His disciples, who had toiled all night to no avail, to cast a net, and it was as thought all the fish came under the boat because the master had summoned them.
When the likes of Oburu says that this time “we have the system,” they know Raila has upgraded. The owners of capital, some active in today’s politics such as Kanu’s Gideon Moi, are likely to get into Uhuru’s net.
Raila has never become President, despite successfully mobilising all tribes against one in 2007. This is the reality of politics world over. Power beats politics.
RAILA’S POOR ORGANISATION
The run-up to 2022 can become melodramatic, if Raila does not establish a meticulous political machine from the secretariat level. This is the only chance Ruto has.
Whenever Ruto talks about ‘Kujipanga’, he knows what he is saying. Nasa had massive organisational challenges in 2017. Paying their election agents was a problem. Financing their tallying centres was also dependent on a few eccentric individuals who did not come through in good time, hence leading to delays and hotfooting it towards Election Day.
You could see clearly that Jubilee branded way better than Nasa and their events were professionally run. Major gaffes happened, like money that was said to have been grabbed from Nasa while being transported from the JKIA by “unknown people”.
The funds of Kalonzo’s Foundation — frozen by the Non Governmental Organisation Coordination Board — were probably meant for use in the Nasa campaigns.
Then Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who was funding Nasa’s senate and woman representative candidates in Nairobi, gave indifferently and in piecemeal manner.
That made it difficult for Edwin Sifuna and Esther Passaris to manoeuvre effectively in the campaigns. These bottlenecks had a massive impact on Nasa’s preparedness and performance in the polls.
Raila must therefore present Uhuru with great organisation and appoint sharp people in charge of critical aspects of his campaigns.
The ODM of 2007 with, James Ongwae at the helm, was much better systematised than the Cord of 2013, and the Nasa of 2017.
Going out to the public to communicate, especially messaging, will be critical.
Ruto is not dumb. He will be working very hard to convince Uhuru that they can still do business, especially if Raila does not move to organise his team wisely.
Courtesy The Star