The handshake of March 9, last year, between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga has largely been credited with lowering the national political temperature. Indeed, there has been a remarkable reconciliation, and a desire for a joint push for solutions to political and socio-economic challenges.
But this does not mean that the acute perennial politicking has ended. Far from it. Two factions in the ruling Jubilee Party that either support or oppose Deputy President William Ruto’s bid in the 2022 succession have been at each other’s throats. However, it’s nothing comparable to the threat of violence and national implosion that loomed before the two leaders agreed to work together for the national good.
Incidentally, the intra-Jubilee tussle is apparently being fuelled by the rapport between the President and Mr Odinga, which some DP Ruto allies see as a ploy to block his ascent to the top office. Ironically, though, it is this kind of schism that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) spawned by the “handshake” was meant to prevent.
The BBI was envisaged as the forum through which ideas, proposals and suggestions on how to fix the problems that bedevil the nation would be discussed. Indeed, there have been good sessions at which individuals and groups have presented memoranda on how to achieve greater national cohesion.
And herein lies the crux of the matter. The BBI does not seem to be sufficiently inclusive to generate ideas that resonate with all. Many Kenyans are not even aware of what the team is doing. Some opposition politicians have also called for its expansion to widen representation. With talk about a possible referendum on the Constitution that could drastically alter the governance structure, there is need for more openness and inclusivity to forge a national consensus on the way forward.