MUTUA: Raila must shun Ruto or pay - Daily Nation

Raila must shun Ruto or pay the political price

Saturday June 16 2012



Media reports point to a political seduction between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Eldoret North MP William Ruto.

If true, the alliance would be the most astonishing blunder of Mr Odinga’s long political career.

Let me guarantee this – Mr Odinga will handily lose the election if he enters into a political marriage with Mr Ruto.

It’s clear there’s a political cabal around Mr Odinga that’s giving him deadly advice.

The Book of Mark, 8:36, sternly asks: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”

Except in Mr Odinga’s case, he would suffer a double whammy. He would lose the “whole world” and “forfeit his soul”.

I have four unarguable reasons why Mr Odinga would commit political suicide were he to welcome Mr Ruto back to ODM.

There’s an un-interrogated assumption that this election – like all previous Kenyan elections – will be driven by tribe.

It’s on this basis that Mr Odinga is courting Mr Ruto. His handlers believe that only Mr Ruto can bring back the Kalenjin into the PM’s fold.

They’ve panicked because they think they’ve lost the Luhya with the defection of Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi to the UDF party.

They are dead wrong. Neither the Kalenjin nor the Luhya will vote like a bloc. Like the Kikuyu, the Kalenjin and Luhya votes will be scattered to the four winds. This is why.

Mr Ruto and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta will likely drop out of the presidential race because of The Hague trials or be guillotined by Chapter Six of the Constitution.

In their absence, neither the Kikuyu nor the Kalenjin will be able to field a unifying candidate.

Mr Mudavadi, who is counting on Kikuyu and Kalenjin support if Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta are locked out, will not get it.

That’s because he won’t even have the full backing of the Luhya. The Kikuyu are already fragmented even with Mr Kenyatta in the race.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua and Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth will claim a sizeable chunk of the Kikuyu vote.

Former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga has turned the Kikuyu youth against Mr Kenyatta.

My guess is that of the big five communities, only the Luo will likely vote as a bloc.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka shouldn’t count on the Akamba to back him the way they did in 2007.

Even Kamba chauvinists know in their heart of hearts that it will be difficult for him to marshal full support.

This means that the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, and Kamba votes will be up for grabs.

You can take this to the bank – we shall start to see the de-ethnicisation of Kenyan politics in the coming elections.

That’s why Mr Odinga should stop “thinking tribe” and cozying up to Mr Ruto. He must define himself as the “issues candidate” – detribalised, reformist, and pro-youth.

First, Mr Odinga must shun Mr Ruto because the courtship is a genius political plot to destroy him.

It’s simply a masterstroke. Of the so-called Moi orphans, none is more notorious or infamous than Mr Ruto.

His past at the height of Kanu’s repressive regime speaks for itself. He led the opposition to the new Constitution.

But nothing soils him more than the charges for crimes against humanity at The Hague.

Is that the kind of comrade-in-arms Mr Odinga wants? The alliance would shatter Mr Odinga’s credibility at home and abroad.

How he embraces such a politician and calls himself a reformer is beyond me. One thing’s for sure – Mr Ruto would not miss a second chance to bury Mr Odinga.

Siamese twin

Second, hypocrisy and opportunism would define Mr Odinga if Mr Ruto was to become his Siamese twin.

How could Mr Odinga look Kenyans in the eye – and the country’s friends abroad – and call himself an incorruptible leader? Who, pray, would believe him?

Remember this truth – you govern with those who helped you win. With Mr Ruto at Mr Odinga’s side, we can expect impunity to reign in the next government.

The new Constitution would be treated like trash – a meaningless piece of paper.

I will guarantee something else – all true reformers and bona fide civil society leaders would desert Mr Odinga in droves.

Imagine what he’ll do once in power if he betrays you before the election.

Third, Mr Odinga has no power to make Mr Ruto’s charges at the International Criminal Court go away.

Both Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta have repeatedly said that Mr Odinga plotted to have them charged at the ICC.

Mr Odinga has spent more than a year fighting this allegation. Mr Odinga has supported the ICC process and asked the Ocampo Four to carry their crosses.

Why then would Mr Odinga do an about-face and oppose the ICC? This may only paint Mr Odinga in an unflattering light – as someone who’d do anything to get himself to State House.

Mr Odinga shouldn’t dangle the ICC deferral carrot in front of Mr Ruto.

Finally, Mr Odinga has a choice to make. Is he a man of principle, or a fair weather reformer? Will he bend to the wind for the sake of power?

If so, how would he use that power should Kenyans entrust it with him?

Mr Odinga’s reunion with Mr Ruto would be akin to President Obama becoming a Republican to be re-elected. The thought sickens me.

That’s why I believe that Mr Odinga’s dalliance with Mr Ruto is a poisoned chalice. We know what happens to those who drink from such cups. Watch out Mr Odinga!

Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC.