It’s a cold Saturday morning and yours truly is at Tea Kiosk, one of the very many in our ‘estate’. Then comes in this guy (he looks distraught), walks straight to where the writer is seated and grabs the next seat. I’m scared, from past experience, I can’t afford not to be. He then speaks out…Some forces (he claims) have conspired to ensure Raila never becomes Kenya’s president…
Fast forward, I’m invited to discuss Raila’s presidential ambitions; a debate I reluctantly join. The ‘discussion’ that followed inspired this post. I want to share why Raila’s presidential bids have flopped. To move the blame from ‘our enemies’ and place it on the candidate himself. Are you still with me?
Past Attempts (1997,2007,2013)
I believe Hon. Odinga has the right to vie for presidency just like any other Kenyan; it’s undemocratic to demand his retirement from active politics. Again, he isn’t the first man to vie and fail more than once. And he’s not too old to contest, unless on health grounds.
So, why pick on his failures and not Paul Dida’s for instance? Well, there is just too much theories excusing Raila’s failed presidential bids and it was time the King was told he had no one but himself to blame. Let’s look at how Raila has fared so far.
In 1997, using a splinter outfit from Ford Kenya (i.e. NDP), Tinga made his first attempt. But a predominantly Luos support-base couldn’t take him far…Jakom failed miserably. He came a distant third, after garnering a paltry 10% of the votes. If you asked me, he was politically presumptuous. Forgive my direct language, somethings can’t be sugar-coated. Anyway, we all thought he’d learn from 1997, but that was never to be the case…
His 2002 scheme (i.e. to use the naive-looking Kibaki as a ladder to Executive Premiership/Head of Government) backfired right in his face. You know the story, he rebelled against Kibaki, formed alliances with KANU (under Uhuru and Ruto) and led us to reject an original whose photocopy we later accepted as the ‘best constitution in the world’ in 2010.
Raila’s 2007 victory was stolen by Kibaki. Please don’t feed me the very tired ‘they both stole only that Kibaki was a better thief’ line. ODM had the majority in Parliament and that’s all the proof you need to know the winner of presidential vote in a tribalized country like ours.
In my opinion, 2007 is one of those unfortunate days when hate meets greed in a battle of titans. Raila’s 41 against 1 met Uthamaki ni witu (lit: “rule is ours”). The result is best left unvisited, at least not in this post.
See Also: Why Kenya Has No Political Parties
Just when things were to work in his favor, by virtue of being the incumbent, Jakom was handed a humiliating defeat by a 6-month old TNA/URP coalition…headed by two ICC ‘guests’. Again, look at who controls Parliament and stop embarrassing yourself with ‘our votes were stolen’ dirge. Raila lost!
So, what could be wrong? Is Raila the problem? Could it be lack of strategy? What about his supporters? Here is my analysis; the three main reasons why Raila is yet to be president.
1. Retrogressive Brand of Politics
Duplicitous is how I can describe Raila’s brand of politics. The former PM’s word can’t be trusted. He practices what he preaches against! There are several instances, preaching democracy while suppressing dissenting voices in his party and support base. Acting the anti-graft czar while protecting the corrupt and even allowing them to fund his campaign. Pretending to love country while putting his political ambitions above country. Advocating for national unity and end of negative ethnicity yet turning political opponents as enemies. I could go on and on.
Now, before you close this page and start looking for me, let me explain…Most Raila supporters are trained against some political enemy (mostly imagined). Like I said, political opponents are painted as actual enemies.
If you doubt me, let any member of ODM be seen with Jubilee leaders (preferably Uhuru or Ruto)…the reaction from Raila supporters will do more than vindicate me. Interestingly, Raila himself can dine and feast with these enemies and get away with it all.
How do you call a brand of politics which makes a citizen to hate their own government? ‘Retrogressive’ is a mild word when you are expected to postpone your happiness till your leader is in power. Politics that promotes zero tolerance for divergent views and vehement opposition to development projects initiated by others?
What about the 2008-2012 when, instead of earning the confidence of those in power, he destroyed his own ODM, antagonized Kibaki and other institutions all through? Why couldn’t he use the Office of Prime Mister to give Kenyans a taste of his presidency? I mean, instead of turning his office into a den of corruption? He chose instead to oppose the same government he was part of and lost Ruto, Balala, Nyaga, Mudavadi (he’s since been bought back) and Ngilu in the process. He had to go for political featherweights and former ‘enemies’ like Kalonzo and Wetangula to form CORD; a failed outfit from day one.
3. Arrogant Luo Supporters
I know that almost every tribe has someone they look up to, but Luos are taking their support for Raila too far. There are sycophants and minions everywhere, but holding on to the weird belief that Raila is the most qualified to be Kenya’s president and demeaning other presidential candidates hasn’t worked in his favor. You can’t force others to reward Raila’s struggles (real or imaged) with presidency. That the salvation of this country is only possible with Raila as president, and insisting that Raila has always won elections is illogically scary.
See Also: Political Realities Luos Must Accept
You can’t continue insulting everyone who criticizes Raila or differ with him politically and still expect to win them over. You call Kalenjins ‘kalejingas’ yet (in a very twisted way) expect them to support your hero. Luhyas to you are tumbocrats (whatever that means) yet you want them to be your best ally. Instead of gathering all, you are scattering the already few supporters.
For Raila to win the next elections, he must adopt progressive politics (practice what he preaches), come up with new working strategies (not the selfish schemes and pitting tribes against tribes) and his supporters (especially the Luos) accept the political reality that Kenya is bigger than any single tribe.
He (and supporters) can choose to hearken to my free counsel or dismiss me. Either way, my point is home.