Political intrigues and uncertainty on referendum will define the year

Wednesday March 18 2020

Delegates attend the launch of the BBI report at the Bomas of Kenya on November 27, 2019. Observers regard the now omnipresent BBI as custom-built to power his journey to State House in 2022. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The year 2020 promises a harvest of confrontation and conflict in a political arena of non-stop and charged activity and rising temperatures.

This will be powered by President Kenyatta; the power man he recently-created in Raila Odinga; their instrument of political re-organisation christened Building Bridges Initiative (BBI); and their common enemy Deputy President William Ruto.

Herewith the indicators.

First, Jubilee Party's secretary general and Minister Plenipotentiary, Raphael Tuju, provocatively declared in a year-ender message that corrupt people would be locked out of the union's internal poll in March.


Corrupt people is the Jubilee high command's code phrase for Dr Ruto and his faction in the governing party that goes by the pseudonym Tangatanga.

Rival Kieleweke, which is allied to the President, regards the poll as a tool for evicting the DP, in particular and Tangatanga, as a whole.

The objective is to lock Dr Ruto out of Jubilee's leadership and, therefore, the running for the Kenyatta II succession.

Allies of Dr Ruto long anticipated this flanking manoeuvre and have a fall back party waiting in the wings.


When the split in Jubilee comes to a head, Kieleweke expects Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the opposition party-turned-government-bedmate, to join it and shore up its support.

Second, Mr Odinga has demanded that Dr Ruto steps aside to allow for investigations into his corrupt ways.

It is proceeds of graft, he insinuates, with which the DP treats throngs to lavish feasts at his homes, donates generously to churches and dishes out handouts.

Bizarrely, but passionately, Mr Odinga accused Dr Ruto of presuming only he wanted to be Kenya's next president, of obsession with the office, and of behaving as if it were his for the taking. Of course, Mr Odinga is preparing for a fourth presidential run.


Indeed, observers regard the now omnipresent BBI as custom-built to power his journey to State House in 2022.

But standing in his way is Dr Ruto. That explains why nobody fights the DP harder or more viciously than Mr Odinga and ODM.

True Dr Ruto is obsessed with the presidency and becoming president, but so is Mr Odinga obsessive about Dr Ruto and his wealth, and compulsive about stopping him from running for president.

However, Mr Odinga's and Mr Tuju's outbursts have brought two issues into sharp focus. One, the anti-graft campaign has been weaponised and provides ammunition for the war of attrition against the DP.


Two, the lifestyle audit President Kenyatta threatened for himself and his Deputy in 2018 is overdue. Partisan politicos demand such audit for the DP, but not for the President, Mr Odinga or themselves.

Third, presidential confidant and Jubilee sounding board David Murathe and organised labour boss Francis Atwoli have revived their divisive pitch for Mr Kenyatta to vie for the premiership when created.

Previously Mr Murathe curiously said he would vote for Mr Odinga if BBI recommended him for the presidency.

Last month, he hinted at a possible deal in which Mr Odinga and the President would respectively vie for the presidency and premiership.


Small wonder in November, in a remarkable change of mind, President Kenyatta told Mount Kenya leaders he would not mind being PM.

Irked, Narc Kenya Party boss Martha Karura, swiftly issued a sharp riposte: she would definitely go to court if Mr Kenyatta sought the premiership.

A stickler for law, Ms Karua contends that the Constitution forbids the President from running for an Executive position after serving his two terms.

Mr Murathe and Mr Atwoli counter that Mr Kenyatta would, as leader of the parliamentary majority party, qualify for the premiership. That underscores why he, and not the DP, is earmarked for Jubilee's top seat.

Last, Mr Odinga, speaking with proprietary authority and finality, decreed a referendum this year.


He said some recommendations of BBI presume a referendum.

Then he controversially proffered that a Bill comprising all recommendations of BBI be used for a referendum.

Beware. The kind of Bill Mr Odinga is proposing is called omnibus. It refers to a piece of legislation in which bad, contentious and controversial laws, are hidden under the good.

It is used to hoodwink legislators and, therefore, populace.

Remember this: each of the nine agenda items of BBI is worth a referendum.

And each of the recommendations on each of the nine, is worth a plebiscite.

This calls for a national conference. If Kenya's future is left to politicians, they will reduce it to a fight between Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga. Kenya is bigger than that.

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