GAITHO: Raila ‘in Jubilee’, dying Nasa, who will lead reform agenda? - Daily Nation

Raila ‘in Jubilee’, dying Nasa, who will lead reform agenda?

Tuesday March 20 2018

Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Nasa leader Raila Odinga on March 9, 2018. If Kenyan politics is replete with betrayal and selling-out, then the Nasa co-principals cannot point the finger at Mr Odinga as they are past masters of the game. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By Macharia Gaitho
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Ten days should have been more than enough for President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga to answer lingering questions on what their famous March 9 handshake actually means.

As more time goes by without any cogent explanation, many who cautiously welcomed the rapprochement as an important first step to national dialogue are having second thoughts.

Instead of a road map to national healing and reconciliation, what we are seeing is Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) formation gravitating towards the Jubilee Party gravy train and completely abandoning the stated goals of the National Super Alliance #Resist campaign.


We were told that a team of experts would craft a way forward to a resolution of the raft of issues outlined in the joint statement by the two hitherto protagonists but have since heard nothing about it.

Instead, we have been assaulted by the din coming out of Nasa as co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Democratic Movement, Moses Wetang’ula of Ford-Kenya and Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress cry foul on being left out of Mr Odinga’s plans.

At the same time, the latter’s ODM acolytes seem to be shifting their loyalties from Nasa to Jubilee.

President Kenyatta must be laughing all the way to the bank. Other than the handshake photo-op, he has conceded absolutely nothing but all the same secured the satisfaction of Mr Odinga acknowledging his legitimacy and implicitly dropping his own claims to the presidency.

He is also watching with more than passing interest as the opposition coalition implodes, having already abandoned its faltering programme of civil disobedience and establishment of “people’s assemblies”.

This is not what it was supposed to be about.

The struggle — for electoral justice, inclusive social and economic policies, good governance, human rights, freedom of the media, equitable development, independent Judiciary and oversight institutions and an end to ethnic power contests and the ‘our turn to eat’ syndrome — does not end when the Kenyatta and Odinga families reconcile.


The biggest danger now is, with Mr Odinga and his ODM brigade so keen to get crumbs from the Jubilee table, we will be left without an effective counter-force to the monolith.

Mr Musyoka, Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Mudavadi are saying they are ready to drive the Nasa agenda without Mr Odinga but that sounds like the joke of the year. They are angry not because Mr Odinga reached an accommodation with Mr Kenyatta, but because they were kept in the dark about the deal between the two.

They are now, quite ludicrously, also demanding a meeting with the President. They seem not to realise that the Harambee House parley was between ‘co-presidents’ — without a retinue of deputy presidents, party leaders or coalition co-principals.

They would also do well to recall that, at the critical hour of need, they let down Mr Odinga by chickening out during his “swearing-in” as the “people’s president”.


If Kenyan politics is replete with betrayal and selling-out, then the Nasa co-principals cannot point the finger at Mr Odinga as they are past masters of the game.

Back in 2002, Mr Mudavadi betrayed the Odinga-led stampede from the Kanu dictatorship to win appointment as a short-lived Vice-President.

Again in the run-up to the 2013 elections, he abandoned ODM with a noisy exit on being tricked he would be the central Kenya establishment’s favoured successor to President Mwai Kibaki.

As for Mr Kalonzo, he famously ditched Mr Odinga in 2008 so that he could be appointed President Kibaki’s deputy in the wake of the post-election violence.


He only trooped back to Mr Odinga’s camp ahead of the 2013 elections on belatedly realising that he had no place in the Uhuru-Ruto power play.

No one is pure — as Mr Odinga also has his own well-documented history of political betrayals and broken promises, starting with the 1997 gravitation to Daniel arap Moi’s Kanu.

The problem this time is that Kenya is left without a credible movement to check the voracious political classes and drive the struggle for a just society.

The last time there was such a vacuum, 1997, a courageous alliance of civil society and religious leaders stepped up to the crease and drove the reform agenda.

Now, in those two groupings we see largely appendages of the tribalised political contests. Who will emerge to fill the void?


[email protected] Twitter: @MachariaGaitho