VOICE OF LIBERTY AFRICA: Kenya’s Electoral Tinderbox ~ Alex Ndungu Njeru
Kenya had a chance to break from history, to establish a new slate and walk into a blissful future. But no! we stood aside, some from a distance, some of us even cheerleading as this country was tossed from one grace to no grace at all, from strath to grass. We haplessly watched as the balkanization of our nation began in earnest. ‘Our fathers’ read ‘our political leaders’ formalized their marriages of convenience before the December 4th date. The UhuRuto alliance of; Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto was solemnized at the Nakuru Afraha stadium. Raila on his part was in Tononoka grounds in Mombasa for his great stag party before he introduces his bride to Kenya. Now Raila and Kalonzo have solemnized their union.
These tribal coalitions are sad; they have eventually denigrated Kenya’s electoral democracy. The ensuing logical conclusion is that for a force or an individual to remain politically relevant, it/s/he must line up a whole platoon of tribal ethnic foot-soldiers behind it/him/her. There is a very big probability that the mutual hatred between our leaders and the political forces will spill out in the country in an ugly way.
Behind the pomp, the glamour, the crowds and epithets hurling the indestructible truth is that these ethnic alliances between our politicians come at a great cost to our fledgling democracy. Tribal alliances sanctioned by tribal lords, which is what our marquee politicians are any-way, do not serve Kenya’s best interests. They heighten our ethnic awareness; they remind us that we have not extricated ourselves from our ethnic selves. One would think that Kenya is a band society, where citizens go after each other after, every five years or so.
But what choices as a Kenyan populace do we have? We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t, we must exercise our democratic right to choose our leaders , but we have no choices at the ballot. We have a new constitution but we lack a leadership that can deliver the dreams and aspirations envisioned in the constitution and the audacious Vision 2030 come to fruition.
We need to examine the labyrinth that we Kenyans are into. The biggest political forces right now involve and include Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka on one hand and Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto on the other. Most other individuals in the race to state house are political non-starters; indeed it would require a great deal of permutations and arithmetic to imagine any other force giving us our next president.
Task one; examine the Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto pact. Strange bedfellows Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Uhuru and Mr. Kenyatta are. There’s more convenience in this political union than a convenience store located 20 meters away from your city apartment. Both of them are facing charges against humanity at the International Criminal Court at the Hague in Northlands, both of them are tribal kingpins of their respective ethnic communities, Mr. Kenyatta lords over the Kikuyu community arguably Kenya’s largest community in population head counts while Mr. Ruto lords over Kalenjins, Kenya’s third largest community arguably Kenya’s second largest political force owing to their political homogeneity. Uhuru and Ruto have come into the fore under former president Daniel Moi’s tutelage, but then which politician in Kenya has not tasted, the freebies, the political goodwill or the bitter herbs that Moi so often served? These two right here want to perpetuate impunity right here, they know that the country catches a cold every time they sneeze. What could anyone possibly tell them, when they have such big tribal forces behind them?
Uhuru and Ruto are the worst things that would happen to the rule of law in this country. The notion that the most grievous of crimes, crimes against humanity could be made right by the swath of an ethnic battalion at the ballot is a culture that must not be allowed to get entrenched in this country. A culture of recklessness and abandon by the political class is probably the worst thing that would happen to this country. I know convincing the ethnic charge’s of these two tribal kingpins that anything other than a leadership by these two is suicidal is itself and arduous undertaking.
What about the Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka alliance? One; Raila is a shrewd gentleman, who will stop at nothing on his quest to quench his thirst for power. The tag that he is a reformer and that he fought for independence follows him like a shadow, he is at the head of Kenya’s class wars, and the avowed protector of the poor. An examination of the man in Raila reveals contradiction in a man, he claims he is a social democrat, yet in practice he is a crony, cordoning corruption in his party, expecting and seeking rent from various corporate, he claims he has a heart for the poor, yet he and his family have amassed a lot of property owing to his family’s political privileges. He can one and has turned one tribe against many or many tribes against one, which-so-ever suits him best. His tittering is always bad news for the economy and the money markets. Kalonzo on the other hand is a suave gentleman, a fence-sitter at best. He has survived political turbulence in the past not by swimming against the tide but rather riding it to wherever it takes him. He is soft and is synonymously referred to as the water melon in Kenya’s politics, green on the outside but red on the inside.
Unless a credible third force comes to the fore in Kenya we are shall remain forever shackled by our political elite, for we want to go forward but they will not allow.
Alex Ndungu is a regular contributor to the VOICE OF LIBERTY AFRICA Platform