The political truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga in early 2018 continues to gift the country with ‘opposition’ from the unlikeliest of quarters.
With the clock fast ticking toward the next General Election, more voices from within the ruling Jubilee Party are becoming bolder to directly take on Mr Kenyatta and his regime in what signals both the setting in of lame-duck syndrome and realignments.
On Friday night, and following the incarceration of Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria at the Kilimani Police Station in Nairobi, Kandara MP Alice Wahome, in the company of her colleagues, in a brief address to reporters before they were violently dispersed by the police, declared that the country was sliding back to the dark repressive days of the Kanu regime.
“Unless we are careful, we are going back to the old days of a police state,” she said.
This and other sentiments from sections of the majority party are no ordinary developments, given Ms Wahome hails from President Kenyatta’s own Mt Kenya backyard.
In fact, someone who left the country before the 2017 General Election would be forgiven for assuming that these are members of ODM — the party at the heart of opposition politics for 15 years now.
“Kenya does not belong to a few monarchies. It belongs to all of us. The high and the lowly, dynasties and sons of nobodies,” Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said in reference to the perceived isolation of Deputy President Willian Ruto by the deep state.
Mr Nyoro is among those who strongly feel that Mr Kenyatta appears to be going back on his promise to support his deputy for the top seat in the next polls.
“While heaping all the blame on Dr Karanja Kibicho, the Interior principal secretary, what Mr Nyoro and others in the Ruto group shy away from acknowledging is that however powerful he is, the PS is still a mere public servant who could hardly have the freedom to run his own political agenda.
If he is doing all that he is accused of, it would only be as a mere functionary serving the interests of a higher authority,” political commentator Macharia Gaitho notes.
Mr Nyoro is among politicians who accuse Dr Kibicho of being used to frustrate those in Jubilee supporting DP Ruto.
But analysts are quick to point out that while the handshake may have created a vacuum in the opposition, with a weak civil society following a brutal crackdown by Mr Kenyatta’s regime ahead of the 2017 polls not helping the matters, what most of the renegade Jubilee politicians are engaging in are acts of self-preservation.
“Of course with a dead civil society they have to come out and speak for themselves. And the imminent retirement of President Kenyatta is also a factor; they feel they may not need his endorsement in the next polls to secure seats and hence can challenge his authority.
However, this does not qualify them as the opposition. If they resigned from their positions to hold the government to account, I would take them seriously,” argues Tom Mboya, political science lecturer at Maseno University.
The don says even the media was not spared in the assault against civil liberties.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, a close ally of the DP, has been one of the most vocal whenever he disagrees with actions by their own government.
“Despite the pomp and the razzmatazz that accompanied the launch of BBI in Bomas of Kenya, it is now clear that BBI itself cannot even save one citizen in the name of Miguna Miguna; neither can it compel the obedience of court orders. If it cannot save one man, how will it save 47 million Kenyans?” he said with reference to the government’s decision to frustrate the return of Dr Miguna, a former aide of Mr Odinga, back from Canada.
“I’m calling out the inconsistency of Baba (Mr Odinga) - who cut a deal for himself. And despite Miguna helping him to commit treason .... he has allowed Miguna to suffer,” he added.
Ms Wahome has not even spared Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.
“CS Matiang’i, do not tell stories through government spokesman Cyrus Oguna. Bring Miguna Miguna home. Do not expose your inefficiency or worse still tyranny,” she said.
It suffices to mention that the allies of the DP have warmed up to Dr Miguna not because they love him so much but because he is one of the latest tools to display their rage at the deep state they accuse of frustrating their boss and throwing hurdles to his presidential bid.
“The Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission will continue telling us they are fighting corruption without fear or favour but the file with the title — Ruaraka Land — will remain in the corner ‘too hot to touch because it has CS Matiang’i,” State House Director of Digital Communications Denis Itumbi also fired.
Dr Matiang’i denies any wrongdoing in the Ruaraka land scam where the public is said to have lost at least Sh3.2 billion.
The handshake Mr Kenyatta had with his former arch-rival has blurred the line between the opposition and the government, in the process leaving a vacuum in the polity, now being filled — slowly — courtesy of the fallout in Jubilee.
It began with lone voices, mostly coming from DP Ruto’s Rift Valley support base like Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who initially talked with extra caution, but today it is torrential.
Aware of the hard times they face, politicians coalescing around the second in command are always plotting how to stay ahead of the game with observers almost in agreement that the DP is the new face of ‘the opposition’ within.
While the DP knows that his hope of inheriting Mr Kenyatta’s central backyard depends on how he relates with him until his last day in office, his handlers say they only need 40 per cent support of the vote-rich region to seize State House.
It then presents him with a delicate balancing act of appeasing his supporters and still not rattling the man who remains the region's kingpin.
The line of ‘opposing’ by the DP’s allies who see Mr Odinga as a spoiler is a well-coordinated strategy whose aim, the Sunday Nation gathers, is to eventually arm-twist Mr Kenyatta into recommitting to supporting him as the next president.
The hope is to have him succumb to pressure ‘especially from the Mount Kenya grassroots’.
Like the tower of babel, Jubilee, once a united party, succumbed to conflicting ambitions and the push by some radical supporters like David Murathe to have the President stay on after the laws are changed has since opened a floodgates of internal feuds.
It is hard to tell whether it will come out of the war within unscathed.
So heightened has the tensions become that for more than two years, the party leader has failed to convene a Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting, an organ that brings together all the elected and nominated lawmakers, fearing fireworks given the turn of events in the party.