Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kenyans should beware of anti-Raila forces out to stall reforms agenda

By Barrack Muluka
The contradictions of politics can be breathtaking.
There is no objective goodness or badness. It all depends on who is involved.
The matter of the ICC is at once a safe subject and a polarising issue to talk about. If the indicted Kenyans accuse the court, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the British Government of conspiracy, the ICC is neither sensitive nor polarising.
If the Raila Campaign Secretariat talks about the ICC, it becomes a sensitive and polarising matter. Kenyans are advised to "be cautious about this sensitive and polarising matter".
It is the same with political party democracy. When G7 functionaries set on fire an MP’s car because the MP has dared say "Raila Tosha," nobody questions the democratic culture in G7.
The same is true when another car is torched in Mwingi, because the owner has abandoned Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper party to join Charity Ngilu’s Narc. However, when Raila prefers one mode of presidential candidate nomination in ODM, he is "a dictator". One man burns another’s car.
He is a democrat. The other one prefers one mode of nomination to the other. He is a dictator. Such is Kenya in the 21st century.
Self-declared presidential aspirants from other parties have even urged ODM deputy party leader, Musalia Mudavadi, to decamp "because of dictatorship in ODM". Their sole agenda is "to bar Raila from ascending to presidency". Meanwhile, the PM is the object of attack from every corner.
So what is afoot? Why is the PM under such intense attack? Why would people forge papers to tell lies about him and the ICC? Why would they scream at charged political rallies about the ICC but say the matter is polarising when he talks about it? The strategy is to roll the PM through sewage. The immediate objective is to make him unelectable. But the bigger objective is to stall and reverse reforms.
Kenyans have reached another crossroads. They must choose between reform and reversal, now that Kanu has regrouped.
Raila is the face of reforms, in spite of his own weaknesses. He must therefore be stopped, at all costs. That is why outsiders will gleefully talk about democracy in ODM without looking at their own credentials first. Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Uhuru, Ruto, and self-declared people’s guard Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale all accuse the PM of dictatorship in ODM. Their "proof" is the on-going debate on how presidential nominations in the party should be done.
It is instructive that the people asking Raila to exercise internal democracy in ODM are themselves self-declared presidential ticket holders in their parties. It is not clear who gave them the tickets. Uhuru Kenyatta is the Kanu candidate while William Ruto is the United Republican Party (URP) candidate. Nobody is telling Kenyans how these people became their parties’ presidential nominees. Nor is Vice- President Kalonzo telling Kenyans who competed against him for the Wiper party ticket.
However, they are all presidential "nominees" for their parties and "democrats," to boot. Together with a couple of others, these "democrats" have "vowed" to unite "to defeat one man". That is their solitary election agenda.
The Kenyan nation is the headquarters of hypocrisy. Individuals who have unilaterally declared themselves presidential candidates in their own parties can be so brazen as to point accusatory fingers at somebody else and say, "Hey, please internalise democracy in your party".
The truth of the matter is that the people who brought Kenya to its knees in the bad old days have regrouped. Kalonzo, Ruto, Uhuru, Prof George Saitoti, all belong to the Kanu dark corner that rode roughshod through the nation in the 1980s and 1990s. When the forces of change threatened dictatorship, they jumped ship. They passed themselves off as reformists. The storm of reform seems to be over.
They can put on their old colours and take Kenya back to the past. As in the old days, they are now able to stare you in the eye and make illogical pronouncements like, "I am the URP presidential candidate. I also call upon Raila to open up the democratic space in ODM." A gullible nation turns a blind eye to the contradiction.
Kenyans have reached another crossroads. They must choose between reform and reversal, now that Kanu has regrouped. They must choose between impunity and the rule of law. These are the things Raila is saying. Raila is simply saying that this is Kenya’s moment. Decide now whether you will go ahead or go back. Pronouncements of this kind make some people extremely uncomfortable. They will gang up against you and spin dirty propaganda against you.
In the circumstances, reformist institutions like the IEBC and the Judiciary will need to exercise restraint, even as they grope for space. We are coming from a history of institutional abuse. When we see the same forces that abused our institutions regrouped and calling for "unity," those of us who were old enough to see Kanu in its element must get afraid, very afraid. We do not want to smell the slightest whiff of indiscretion in the IEBC or in the courts. Is that too much to ask for?
I should have been impressed to see the PM caught on a video recording, intimidating the IEBC. Instead, I saw IEBC officials on video, claiming that they had been intimidated. A gullible, or perhaps even complicit, media fraternity picked this up and went to town with it as "proof" that the commissioners had been intimidated. If you did not witness the transformation of Kenya’s politics during the period 1965 to 1988, you will probably have to wait and feel the impact of a regrouped Kanu whip on your body. It began exactly the way it is happening today.
The true heroes of the nation were isolated and corned. They were boxed and demonized. Kung’u Karumba, Achieng’ Oneko, Wasonga Sijeyo, Bildad Kagia, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The villains became the heroes. The door to impunity was thrown wide open. To pave the way, the citizens were fed on the narcotising drug of ethnicity. They did not mind the villains, provided they were from their tribe. We are watching history repeat itself. If you have been asking what the trouble is with Raila Odinga, ask no more.
The writer is a publishing editor and media consultant

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