• April 23, 2024
  • Last Update April 23, 2024 10:40 PM
  • Nairobi

What if Uhuru Were to Betray Raila?

What if Uhuru Were to Betray Raila?

As the politics of 2022 hots up, it is still unclear who the main presidential candidates are likely to be. So far, those who have indicated that they are in the running for the presidency are Deputy President William Ruto and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana. Other politicians to watch are Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

And just a few days ago, Opposition leader Raila Odinga hinted that he too may be eyeing the presidency in 2022 when some of his political strategists revealed he would love to be president for just one term.

So who among these will succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta when he retires in 2022? And more importantly, who will get Uhuru’s support?

The answer to the second question would have been obvious if the relationship between the president and his deputy was cordial, remembering that when they rode to power in 2013, they said Uhuru would rule for 10 years and then pass the baton to Dr Ruto to steer the country for another 10 years.

But with the frosty relationship that is between them now, that plan no longer seems possible. Indeed, Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe made it clear in December 2018 that the ‘10-10’ gentlemen’s agreement between Uhuru and Ruto had become null and void, and that the DP should forget the possibility of enjoying support from Uhuru or indeed the Mt Kenya region come 2022.

The apparent bad blood between the head of state and his second in command started shortly after the (in)famous handshake in March 2018 between Uhuru and Raila. Coming only a few months after a gruelling and hate-charged 2017 election that saw a presidential poll re-run, the deal helped to restore peace to an ethnically-divided nation and give Uhuru a chance to enjoy his tenure as president.

As the bromance between Uhuru and Raila blossomed, Ruto seemed to have been thrown under the bus by his boss and former friend. The question now is: Will Uhuru back Raila for the presidency – as all signs indicate – or will he betray him? And what would be the consequences if Uhuru abandoned Raila and threw his weight behind Mudavadi or Gideon, or even Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, as some pundits seem to suggest?

Already, there are people in Uhuru’s political circle who have pointed, albeit indirectly, to Mudavadi as their preferred choice. Take Mr Murathe, for instance. It was not lost on keen observers that he chose to drop the ‘10-10’ agreement bombshell at a Maragoli (Mudavadi is Maragoli) cultural festival in Vihiga County. Mere coincidence or a well-calculated move bearing an important hint?

There are those who feel Mudavadi is a unifier; a pair of safe hands. There are also those who believe he is more sellable across the country than Raila, who has not quite captured the heart of Mt Kenya region yet.

On the other hand, there are those who feel Uhuru should support Gideon because he ‘owes’ the Moi family a larger debt (it was former President Daniel arap Moi who handpicked him to run for the presidency in 2002, although he lost to Mwai Kibaki) than he owes Raila (for the peace that came with the handshake).

If Uhuru should choose to back Mudavadi, Gideon, Dr Matiang’i or any other presidential contender, it would mean he has chosen to betray Raila. This is going by the assumption that Raila has not already been ‘bought’ through the handshake. The only way he would not be in the 2022 equation is if he has already taken ‘his share’.

But there is also the assumption that Uhuru and Raila meant it when they said they had decided to work together to fix the problems in this country caused by their fathers. If that is their true and sincere position, then we must begin where Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (Raila’s father) and Jomo Kenyatta (Uhuru’s father) parted ways when they were vice president and president, respectively.

In the 1960s, when Odinga felt betrayed by Kenyatta, he quit the government. That event has defined Kenyan politics for decades and caused bad blood between the two most prominent political communities in the country – the Kikuyu and the Luo.

The situation introduced two fundamental problems in this country: The Kikuyus have an overbearing sense of entitlement while the Luos have a victim mentality, believing they were not only betrayed but have also been persecuted in their own country and borne the brunt of fighting for good governance, democracy and multi-partism.

They still remember the 1969 killings in Kisumu of civilians by security personnel when a hostile crowd threw stones at the presidential dais where Kenyatta was seated during a public event. They also remember the assassinations of Tom Mboya, Robert Ouko and Argwings Kodhek, and have suffered detention without trial as well as death and maiming during political protests. Odinga was put under house arrest after the 1969 incident and lost the opportunity to serve his people, his family and his country.

And now we have the handshake.

If Uhuru and Raila are serious about their unity pact, they must address the betrayal that happened between their fathers in the 1960s. And what better way to do this than to try – even symbolically – and assuage the Luos?

The people who feel they have been persecuted must be soothed, and one way of doing this is by giving Raila a fair shot at the presidency. Kikuyus must let go of their sense of entitlement and cede ground for the first time in history – by supporting a candidate from a different community; and not just any candidate, but the man who has fought for the democratic space in this country.

Going back to the 2022 question, if it is true that Uhuru doesn’t want Ruto to succeed him, then he must find the person to beat him at the polls. The question is: Can Gideon match Ruto even with Uhuru’s backing? Or can Mudavadi mount an effective enough campaign against Ruto?

I don’t believe either of them can in a free and fair election. (And by the way, it will not be possible to rig elections in 2022 because technology has advanced so fast that people will demand a fully electronic voting system – as is already happening in Ghana, Brazil, Estonia, India, the Netherlands, Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, some states in the United States and Venezuela. Furthermore, Covid-19 has dictated that we can no longer vote by queuing.)

The candidate who gets Uhuru’s backing should be one who can fight. I don’t see Gideon being that person (rather, I see him as a man to be ‘processed’ for 2027). I don’t see Mudavadi being that person. And that is how Raila comes into the equation. If Uhuru and Raila win in 2022, Ruto will be vanquished.

However, what if Uhuru were to betray Raila? Here are the possible consequences: To begin with, Raila is a very unpredictable man and his highly unexpected actions could mess anyone up, including Uhuru. Remember his “Kibaki Tosha” rally at Uhuru Park in 2002? Who knows, Raila could even turn around and back Ruto! It is a risk Uhuru would not want to take.

Secondly, if Uhuru were to choose Gideon or Mudavadi over Raila, the narrative of betrayal and exploiting others would be proved. It would be argued that Kikuyus are only interested in using others for their own benefit – first Ruto and then Raila. That would not be good for the Kikuyu community, or the country at large in the eyes of the international community given the impression that Uhuru and Raila are working together for the peace and prosperity of this nation.

But neither of these consequences compares to this one: We could be risking the creation of a Central African Republic situation – where there is no leadership, only rebels controlling different parts of the country.

If Raila is out of the picture, we would have to deal with people who feel badly about the way things are going in this country. A good example is around the time of the repeat presidential election in 2017. Some people started talking of cessation. And when an economic boycott was called and supported, youths in Kisumu County asked Raila to allow them to uproot any infrastructure to do with Safaricom. They also wanted to remove portraits of the president and replace them with Raila’s. It took Raila’s leadership to calm them down.

This country is too fragile to afford the kind of situations we see in some African countries. Ours is a modern economy whose success hinges on good order. A breakdown of this order simply cannot be sustained. In 2007, after Mr Kibaki was sworn in as president on the evening of December 30 and all hell broke loose, there were no goods in the supermarkets within a week. If this had continued, Kenyans would have died in their hundreds of thousands – not from bullets but from hunger and from butchering one another.

This country has evolved beyond such barbarism. Kenyans have climbed up the civilisation ladder and cannot; nay, should not, degenerate into a state of internal conflict and lawlessness. And yet, if Raila were to be betrayed, these are some of the consequences we would be risking.

I believe there are very many angry people in this country. If this anger is not properly managed, this country could very well go to the dogs.

Related Articles

1 Comment

  • ItsKhaemba , July 9, 2020 @ 8:31 AM

    Doing the same thing expecting different results is the real definition of retardation. I don’t think this time round it’ll be any different. Raila will pick the likes of Isaac Rutto, Eugene Wamalwa, Kalonzo, Oparanya then promise them non-existent positions in their coalition. Mudavadi may team up with Ruto or the other way round and it’ll be more formidable than the Raila’s side , quality over quantity. The Raila camp will campaign with guys like Junet ,Babu Owino, Aladwa & Arati using threats and chest thumping & we all know how it’ll end, probably in tears. Anyway, we’ll live to see how it transpires considering the fact that single day in politics is long enough for a smart politician.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *