By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief, Nairobi – January 17, 2017
It is tragically unfortunate that the Kenyan media houses and their journalists have since the inauguration of the New Constitution in 2010 continued to suffer Kanu error hangover misleading the entire country and beyond of the existence of “opposition” within political ranks.
The 2010 Constitution political dispensation does not repeat not provide for “opposition” in both the National Assembly and the Senate. The political arrangement in both legislative houses is that of Majority, representing the number of Members of Parliament and Senators, of the ruling party or coalition, and the Minority side comprising the losing contenders – not opposition.
The new political dispensation created a presidential system modeled on the United States of America in which neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party become opposition when either loses an election. The Cabinet is also picked outside the legislative houses, as is the case in Kenya today.
The argument that CORD coalition is the “opposition” in Kenya is a political fallacy grounded on the agenda of confusing Kenyans who are yet to be educated on important aspects of the new Constitution, their socio-economic implications and the way forward in devolved governance. Devolution will serve Kenyans effectively when they understand that it was introduced to decentralize the power base from State House to all 47 counties. Decentralizing Presidential power meant empowering County Governors to determine their path towards development and prosperity not to wait for the President to decide for them.
Significantly the ruling Jubilee Coalition has 23 County governments as opposed to CORD’s 24 Counties and its Counties are not known as opposition Counties unlike attempts by media houses to baptize CORD-led Counties opposition zones. The fact that all County Governments share the same indiscriminate status makes nonsense of media houses splitting them up as opposition zones except for the mischievous desire to create ethnic political divisions.
Media houses and so-called opposition have deliberately promoted the narrative that CORD politicians’ role is to criticize the Jubilee government on matters development and governance while turning a blind eye on the same issues at the County governments level. That is as mischievous as it is self-defeating. Development and governance are the pillars for rural prosperity that must be rooted at County level not State House or Presidency. That is why Governors head Counties – unless they and their party leadership do not understand the role of a Governor.
During the days of colonial Kenya, the Governors did not wait for King George or his daughter Queen Elizabeth to determine the pace of governance and development in Kenya and other colonies. The clamour for the current Constitution was to rid the Kenya of imperial presidency Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi were. That is why Parliament and County Assemblies not State House, Harambee or Treasury decides public projects’ funding, as was the case in Kenyatta 1 and Moi. The so-called “opposition” should not engage Kenya in a reverse gear.
Ironically, a CORD County like Machakos where a Governor has shown roads, the arteries of development, can be built cheaply, provided water to thousands of homes and built an international standard stadium, has become the target for vilification, ridicule and torment on accusations of collaborating with Jubilee government. In another CORD Turkana County residents, with all promises of oil wealth and massive water deposits, are starving while their Governor and “opposition” leaders are waiting for Jubilee government to dig boreholes for water and build roads and stadium. That is political slave mentality.
Devolution has not worked as successfully as envisaged because politicians in both CORD and Jubilee have failed to embrace the concept as purely County Development Focused. In fact the Counties are the same districts that were created in 1983 by former Chief Secretary Simeon Nyachae intended to initiate what he called District Focus for Rural Development that never took off during the Moi era. It was officially baptized the District Focus Policy for Rural Development in Kenya: The Decentralization of Planning and Implementation, 1983-9.
All media houses, their journalists and political analysts have baptized Raila Amolo Odinga the Opposition leader and lumped together CORD affiliate parties as opposition parties. They are not. Even Raila, alias Baba, himself never refers to himself as opposition leader but as a co-principal of CORD with former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper party and Moses Wetangula of Ford Kenya party as co-principals. If anything Raila can best were described as having inherited his late father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga status as opposition spokesperson since he lost parliamentary seat. In parliamentary politics Raila has never been Official Opposition Leader like his father during his short-lived Kenya Peoples Union and a short stint after multiparty elections of 1992 succeeding Kenneth Matiba after Moi regime bribed Ford Asili MPs to join Kanu.
After 1997-second multiparty elections, Raila, then leading Luo-dominated National Democratic Party (NDP), parted company with opposition team of Mwai Kibaki then leading Democratic Party of Kenya (DP), Kijana Wamalwa of Ford Kenya he inherited from Raila father Odinga and Charity Ngilu leading Social Democratic Party (SDP). He soon after joined Dictator Daniel arap Moi Kanu government and NDP was rewarded with three cabinet posts.
By joining Kanu, Raila was placing himself on the Moi succession queue from which then Vice President George Saitoti was being shunted. Moi had publicly declared that Saitoti was not presidential material as far as he was concerned raising hopes for Raila who occupied the position of most likely successor during a Kanu delegates conference that saw him take over the key position of Secretary General from hawkish Joseph Kamotho.
Raila was however; in for a shock a few months to the December 2003 General Election when he announced that the only person he saw fit to replace him was Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. Uhuru had joined politics as nominated MP after the a former nominated MP the late Mark Too was asked to step down. The then Kibera MP quit Kanu in a huff along with several cabinet ministers including Vice President Saitoti and Kalonzo to form short-lived Rainbow Party.
Meanwhile Wamalwa and Ngilu had settled for Kibaki as their single opposition Presidential candidate under National Party of Kenya (NAK). Confused after quitting Kanu Raila and his cabinet colleagues met Ford People leader Simeon Nyachae and entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Serena Hotel in which Raila was to be the running mate.
After sealing the deal with Nyachae and even before the ink had dried on the paper it was written, the Kanu renegades found a mammoth rally at Uhuru Park and decided to venture in. There was no doubt at that time that Raila and his team would be a great asset if they joined Kibaki to deal Moi a most deserved killer blow.
The team was therefore welcome to join the NAK rally and even address the huge gathering overflowing Uhuru Park. When it came to Raila’s turn, he rose to a thunderous applause. As he struggled with unprepared speech Balala prompted him to tell the huge crowd “wambie Kibaki ametosha”. To which Raila screamed “Kibaki ametosha” sending the crowd into a frenzied applause. Thus were born the two words that became Raila’s political trademark.
There is no doubt that the Raila team gave Kibaki team a great push towards State House. He would later become the lead campaigner is western Kenya after the near fatal accident Kibaki suffered at Machakos junction. The cause of the accident has never been explained satisfactorily but it was by grace of God that the opposition candidate survived.
Kabaki’s NAK combined with Raila’s Rainbow Coalition to form NARC (now Ngilu’s) and they triumphed in 2003 elections beating independence party Kanu that had been in power for 40 years. Moi’s Vice President when Kenya went to the polls was none other than the “born again” NASA inventor Mudavadi. Moi was not a presidential candidate in 2003 when Kanu was removed from power by a united opposition, it was Uhuru.
Kenyans had suffered political incarceration and detention without trial during the single party system in which all CORD principals served with delight. Moi had even detained Raila for attempted coup in 1982 but as they say politics has no permanent enemies or friends.
Soon after taking over from Moi cracks started developing between the new leadership with Raila accusing Kibaki of dishonouring a MoU that would have made him Prime Minister that was not provided for in the Constitution. Differences led to Raila leading a opposition against a Constitution draft in 2005 that was defeated in a referendum. The yes vote had a banana symbol and the no an orange that gave birth to Raila’s Orange Democratic Party (ODM). Among others who opposed the draft were Kalonzo and Uhuru. Uhuru however remained in the Kanu that he chaired. Kibaki would soon after fire Raila and his team of opponents including Kalonzo who had challenged him to fire them if he was “circumcised”.
Towards 2007 elections Raila and Kalonzo parted company when the former refused to have Kalonzo as ODM flag bearer. He went away with original ODM and called it ODM-Kenya. He forced Raila to buy similar name from a lawyer who had registered one as a political party. Kibaki vanquished them but opportunistic Kalonzo promptly joined him to become Vice President instead of teaming up with Raila and making it difficult for the President to form a government. The stage is set for a repeat when Raila insists he will the CORD presidential candidate this August as he sure will.
But Raila is also planning to forestall a 2007 repeat by promising to change the Constitution and create top political positions for Kalonzo, Wetangula and Musali Mudavadi, who is hawking an outfit he calls National Super Alliance (NASA) that neither Kalonzo nor Weta are interested in. If a joint approach raptures, Raila will ride on his ODM hoping to force a run off if Uhuru does not garner 50 plus one vote majority. That is a risky gamble knowing the greed for power that drives Kenya politics.
Feeling short-changed after 2007 elections, Raila called for mass action that led to 2008 post election bloodbath in which over 1,500 innocent Kenyans lost their lives. Over 650,000 families were displaced many of them in the Rift Valley and billions of shillings in economic losses incurred. Kenya has yet to recover from the wounds inflicted by the mass action and Kenyans must say NO to any provocation for a similar carnage later this year whatever the outcome of the General Election.
Politicians ride and trod upon ignorant masses that are called upon to die for them to ascend power and lord upon them while enjoying themselves. That is why they bribe their way in politics. Many in both CORD and Jubilee cannot pass a simple test of Presumptive Corruption because they cannot account for their wealth and campaign funds. Many have accumulated wealth in dubious and corrupt manner as civil servants, professionals, drug dealers and organised crime moguls.