To many players, politics is a greatly exciting game with many rules, none of which is immutable. Elsewhere, when you are rejected by voters, you quit and look for another calling, but not in Kenya. Here, the losers never give up until they run out of money to buy votes while the winners seek every way to influence the affairs of State even when they have lost the plot. However, that is no big deal.
Look at the kind of fellows with crazy ideas they are electing in some countries always thought to be mature democracies.
In Kenya, attaining high office is not an end in itself; it would be nothing without the spoils that go with it. In all senses, the game is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for those who seek to serve for altruistic motives. As a result, it is fair to say that many politicians are mercenaries who would make old Mike Hoare run for the hills. The question is why we trust them knowing well they will eventually betray us.
Ever since the famed handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga on March 9 last year, conventional wisdom has been that at last, normalcy in our politics was restored with the cessation of hostilities that had been the hallmark of relations between Jubilee and the opposition. Many were relieved that tensions had eased and the country could go back to a development trajectory. Indeed, for a while, we were transported by the euphoria of the moment as almost everyone had grown tired of incessant bickering.
But alas, within no time, we were reminded that in politics, nothing is as it looks like at first glance. The handshake turned into a ceasefire agreement between two powerful gentlemen who professed to have the country’s interests at heart. However, others saw it differently, which is why the political situation is still in turmoil more than a year later. It is also why many Kenyans wish the politicians would give them a break so that they can wallow in their misery without all that cacophony from folks who have already eaten their fill but still want more.
In a sense, the fissure within Jubilee was inevitable. The fact that the Deputy President was not in the loop when this noble gesture was conceived, and the fact that up to this day very few people seem to know exactly what was agreed on at Harambee House that day, was bound to raise suspicions that there were moves to shaft Deputy President William Ruto who had never hidden his 2022 ambitions. That was the genesis of the infantile politicking we are witnessing today. I call it infantile for want of a stronger word.
Let us examine just a few of the most recent happenings. On June 7, more than 2,000 of my fellow tribesmen led by an outfit calling itself Kikuyu Council of Elders, were “facilitated” to gather somewhere in Nyeri with the specific aim of seeking ways to shut out Mr Ruto from the succession race. Of course, nobody was courageous enough to say publicly that this was the sole agenda.
That is well and good but those “elders” should admit they were gathered to send a message to Mr Ruto, that he should not automatically count on votes from Mt Kenya region. That is quite troubling.
If they were annoyed by his forays into the region, and then they accuse him of engaging in early campaigns, what did they think they were doing? On the other hand, I have always held that DP Ruto made a grave tactical mistake when he showed his hand too early in the succession race. He has been running too fast and too furious, thus isolating himself at the front. When you do that in any competition, you make yourself vulnerable. His supporters can only hope he does not burn out too early the way dedicated pacemakers do in marathon races.
It does not help either that many of his ardent supporters have been hurling misguided missiles at Mr Odinga on the presumption that what he is really after is the presidency, thus spoiling the DP’s chances. He probably aims to do just that and insulting him and his ethnic community is hardly the way to stop him. In any case, nobody has ever told Mr Odinga not to run for President. If they did, he never listened.
What I am saying is that it is still too early for anybody to whip up emotions just because both these gentlemen wish to run for President. It is their constitutional right to do so. In any case, by 2021, it is a given that a horde of prospective presidents will have declared their intent. Already, there is a rich crop to choose from. In short, since the 2022 campaigns have, unfortunately, already started, let everyone endear himself to voters without calumny or muck. People who are worried over what they will eat for supper can do with less Tangatanga and Kieweleke nonsense in their lives.
Mr Ngwiri is a consultant editor; [email protected]