Uhuru victory does not look good for long-term stability

Tuesday October 31 2017

Uhuru Kenyatta

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati (left) confirms Mr Uhuru Kenyatta as the President-elect at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, on October 30, 2017. Unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, Mr Kenyatta will be duly sworn-in to serve a second and final five-year term. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Love him or hate him, the incontrovertible fact is that Mr Uhuru Kenyatta has been declared the elected President of Kenya at the second time of asking.

Unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, Mr Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto will be duly sworn-in to serve a second and final five-year term.

They will probably approach the fresh mandate with the attitude that challenger Raila Odinga and running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, who boycotted the repeat election, can go hang.


But the hubris will be tempered by the equally certain fact that 98 per cent of the vote, in the best tradition of the old-fashioned African dictators, means nothing when you’re running against yourself.

Such votes are actually meaningless and confer neither a mandate nor legitimacy, especially with indications of ballot-stuffing on an industrial scale as the Jubilee campaign machinery worked overtime to ensure that President Kenyatta approached the eight-million plus votes garnered in the first election that was annulled by the Supreme Court.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto must recognise that theirs is a pyrrhic victory they should accept with a great deal of humility.

They must acknowledge that they take office not just with a fractured mandate, but with a resentful and excluded half of the population who heeded the boycott call and will be reluctant to accept the outcome.


This is not the time to boast, but to reach out on the path of national unity, reconciliation and a clear road map towards the resolution of deep-seated grievances that make our electoral contests such explosive ethnic duels.

Mr Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) has already announced that it is transforming itself into a resistance movement.

That, of course, is the kind of statement that would have Jubilee Party adherents seeing red and demanding security crackdowns and arrests.

Of course, there is nothing yet to suggest rebellion, treason and armed militia activity as ruling party mouthpieces may want to depict, and that the security intelligence machinery may want to create.

Mr Odinga’s form of resistance, peaceful civil disobedience and economic boycotts, is completely legal and legitimate; unless it turns to riots, arson, violent attacks and other lawless and destructive activities that must then attract attention of the law.

The Nasa game plan is yet to be fully revealed, but one can expect that to remain relevant, the opposition must move fast to demonstrate that it cannot be business as usual.

An outfit with that kind of following can, indeed, cause problems, but that presupposes Nasa has the resolve, determination and staying-power to be in for the long haul, let alone the improbable demand for a fresh election in 90 days.

The fact is that the conclusion of the elections, however flawed, has shifted the playing field to Jubilee’s advantage, which is what the Kenyatta campaign so desperately wanted.

A compliant Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and a Supreme Court probably browbeaten into submission also worked for Jubilee.

Solutions to the national curse will have to be sought from the political rather than legal and constitutional realms.

It is important, however, that the search for solutions not be controlled by the political contestants.

That would reduce everything to Mr Kenyatta’s determination to hold onto power and to Mr Odinga’s claim to it.


That is why alternative leadership not beholden to either of the ethnic political blocs must seize the moment.

We saw from 1997, with the Ufungamano process, how an independent movement can become a powerful agent of change and progress when the political players have fought themselves to a standstill.

Some will argue that unelected busybodies have no business usurping such space, but the fact is there is a vacuum that must be filed.

We saw from Mr Kenyatta’s acceptance speech Monday that he is not ready for dialogue.

The reality is that failure to act now will be a deliberate refusal to address the festering sores that muddy our politics.

Those sores will be the trigger for continuing violence, instability and national decline.

And if not healed now just because one side deludes itself that it has the State power and the monopoly of violence, that side will itself implode come the next elections five years later, when the power-sharing and succession pact is abrogated.

[email protected] @MachariaGaitho