Wow! So Tangatanga decided to join the BBI rallies! Strategic move, or throwing in the towel? To me, it looked like a case of sheer confusion setting in into that camp, with members unsure of what to do next.
Certainly the faction had been thrown into a huge panic ever since the BBI rallies — which are coyly being called “consultative” forums — were launched in Kisii with a demonstration of grassroots might. An even more mammoth BBI show was put out in Kakamega on January 18.
Saturday was Mombasa’s turn in what promised to be another paralysing display.
Just two rallies, two only — Kisii and Kakamega — brought Tangatanga to this crossroads. The irony did not escape anybody that Tangatanga themselves have been campaigning virtually non-stop since 2018. Or the fact that until their U-turn the faction had been dismissing the BBI rallies as a waste of public funds.
Now they are in a fix, torn between either organising their own ‘sensitisation’ forums or joining the bigger bandwagon. Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. Fundamentally, this reflects the confusion on whether to maintain the old line of opposing the BBI Two phase, or playing along as if they support it, hoping to slow it down. They think by insinuating themselves into the rallies they will be in a position to redirect the narrative back to the BBI One report, which they are more comfortable with.
They will be reckoning with seasoned campaigners spearheading BBI who know a thing or two about public mobilisation. More than that, these movers understand perfectly well what Tangatanga are up to.
Meanwhile, a litany of bad news for Tangatanga has been gathering. The recent shooting incident involving Embakasi MP Babu Owino prompted Inspector-General of Police Hilary Mutyambai to issue an order withdrawing police bodyguards and licensed firearms from politicians facing criminal charges.
Most of the targets ironically turned out to be a pack of Tangatanga rabble-rousers who, like Babu, are facing various criminal cases themselves. The other shocker for Tangatanga had been the sacking of Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri and his subsequent interrogation by the DCI over a suspected Sh1.8 billion payments fraud at the ministry that is under investigation.
The DCI was not done yet: Wednesday opened with screaming newspaper headlines regarding the sensational reopening of a Sh272 million land corruption case that dates back to 2004 and which involved current Deputy President William Ruto. Things were clearly getting hot in Tangatanga-world.
In a sense, Tangatanga’s decision to participate in the BBI rallies is a good thing because it responds to complaints that the rallies were divisive and that they were not taking everybody on board. Still, there are issues. How will the two groups mix? How about their supporters?
The Uhuru Kenyatta-Raila Odinga pair will almost certainly continue to be in control of the rallies and the agenda. Their lieutenants will be dictating who speaks and who does not. Tangatanga are coming as mere supplicants, subservient, their only recourse being to walk out of the rallies if the humiliation is too much to bear.
There is the interesting question of what leeway they will be allowed by the rally organisers — or if they will be allowed any at all. Raila’s ally Junet Mohamed (Suna East MP) stated that Tangatanga were welcome as long as they knew their place. “They should observe decorum and respect. But if they are coming to undermine, we are ready for them,” he warned. Ouch!
The DP is smart enough to know it won’t pay to keep fighting BBI when his boss, Uhuru, fully supports it. Presumably that’s the reason for calling a truce, and instructing his brigade accordingly. The DP, whose supporters never tire to remind everybody how shrewd he is, has been caught flat-footed by this whole BBI wave. He never saw it coming. He never anticipated what his political antagonists would do. Now he has been reduced to firefighting as the roll-out of BBI rallies threatens to consume him. All the while he is fumbling for a footing where the shots are being called by others.
Incidentally on the same day Kakamega was staging her BBI party, the DP was in Makueni County beseeching Kalonzo Musyoka for an alliance. The plea was politely declined.
Things don’t look good at all on the Tangatanga front. Reportedly there are moves afoot to kick out the DP’s loyalists from key parliamentary leadership positions and committees in the Senate and the National Assembly. Even more startling developments are said to be in store for the DP arising from the BBI. The anticipated referendum could propose the abolition of the DP’s security of tenure and clear the way for his sacking whenever the President so desires. Times are tough.