Thursday, February 21, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Khartoum, Sudan

A few decades ago, my professor of Literature, Francis Imbugah wrote a play called Betrayal in the City. I was privileged to act in the premier show before it was published.

What I remember many years later about this play was the powerful message of betrayal it captured at the time. One may want to recall the circumstances under which Imbugah wrote this play. It was barely ten years after Kenya’s independence during Jomo Kenyatta’s reign.

Imbugah’s Betrayal in the city captured the tribulations of ordinary Kenyans whose dreams of a better Kenya; a free and just society had been dashed by the new rulers.
The death of a university student at the campus at the hands of a brutal policeman captured it all. The new rulers were ready to kill if necessary to stem any challenge to their authority.

Betrayal in the City depicted the strained relationship between the new African rulers and the citizenry. At that time this flawed state of affairs was more visible in between the elected leadership and the electorate. It was easy to see how politicians time and time again solicited votes from peasants then abandoned them to their fate for five years before coming back to solicit votes from the same poor fellows, telling the same lies and leaving them to their fate at the hands of a brutal regime.

Many years later, this betrayal has taken new meanings and dimensions. It would appear like it is no longer fashionable for political leaders to merely dishonor pledges they make to their electorate from time to time. Now it has become cuter to not only lie to their people but to cheat and defraud among themselves! The old belief that a national leader was a man of honour worth his word has been thrown through the window. Now even the top political leaderships find it fashionable to make promises they know they will not keep tomorrow morning. And they do this in style in elaborate ceremonies with international and local press in toe.

Citing a few classic cases is in order to illustrate the point I’m trying to make.
Way back in 1998, when Daniel Moi faced a hang parliament; he courted Raila Odinga’s NDP to form some kind of political cooperation. The cooperation lasted four years while they negotiated a more long lasting relationship. After years of intense negotiations and lobbying; Moi’s KANU finally merged with Raila Odinga’s NDP in March 2002 at the now famous Kichinjio Kasarani Sports Complex. Three months later, Moi and Raila parted ways because Moi reneged on the very articles of the merger he had penned his name and signature to.

The same year that Daniel arap Moi betrayed Raila after entering into a written pact with him, Raila Odinga broke away from KANU to form an alliance with like minded elements that had for a quarter century suffered Moi’s insults, abuses and misuse.

Now that Raila Odinga had stood up to Moi, Kalonzo Musyoka, George Saitoti, JJ Kamotho, Moody Awori, William Ole Ntimama, Musalia Mudavadi, Fred Gumo and even Katana Ngala found the courage to walk out on the Baba na Mama of KANU. However, just a few days later, the thought of abandoning Moi after so many years of political tutelage became too much to bear for Musalia Mudavadi and Katana Ngala. They trooped back to KANU.

For the likes of George Saitoti, Kalonzo Musyoka, JJ Kamotho and Moody Awori who had suffered Moi’s abuses for more than two decades, the new freedom and breath of fresh air under Raila Odinga was too sweet to abandon just yet. Despite their personal ambitions for the presidency, they tolerated Raila’s brinkmanship to dictate the circumstances of the political direction at the time.

Raila’ political maneuvers steered them to a new party; the Liberal Democratic Party that was popularly referred to as the Rainbow Alliance. This was the party that finally formed the grand alliance with Charity Ngilu’s National Alliance Party of Kenya whose coalition partners were Kijana Wamalwa’s Ford Kenya and Mwai Kibaki’s Democratic Party of Kenya.

With Moody Awori, George Saitoti and Kalonzo Musyoka in toe, Raila Odinga entered into a pact with Kijana Wamalwa, Kipruto Kirwa, Charity Ngilu and Mwai Kibaki to form the grand rainbow alliance Summit of the National Rainbow Coalition Party (NARC). This was the political outfit that finally floored Moi’s KANU in the 2002 General Elections.

However, soon after the poll victory, too many betrayals and backstabbing took place.

The articles of the MoU signed between NAK and LDP were discarded by the incoming President despite the fact that this MoU was signed under oath in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths! Sooner rather than later, the beneficiaries of this sudden and unexpected victory decided to take refuge in the discredited existing constitution rather than honour the power sharing arrangement they had pledged to prior to the elections.

As if that was not enough, two key beneficiaries of the Raila rebellion; George Saitoti and Moody Awori soon changed sides immediately they settled in new positions in the new regime.

They joined the regime that had reneged on power sharing arrangement.

Four years down the line, Kalonzo Musyoka and JJ Kamotho have equally abandoned LDP citing intimidation, discrimination and undemocratic practices in the LDP camp. They have joined the camps of the very people they have spent the better part of four years maligning.

Across our borders to the North in Sudan, the late John Garang signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement with President El Bashir to end the 21 year old Civil War in South Sudan in May 2005. Two years later, there is every sign that President El Bashir does not intend to keep his word. The CPA is threatened with collapse. If the President of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir and peace broker Daniel arap Moi can voice their concerns publicly on the issue, then we have reason to fear for the worst.

Back in Kenya, it s interesting to learn that just weeks since Kalonzo Musyoka defected from LDP to join Julia Ojiambo’s Labour Party of Kenya; and after praising her to the skies for allowing him to win a mock nomination process; now Kalonzo is at it scheming to short-change Julia Ojiambo on the running mate position! But even more interestingly; as Kalonzo Musyoka schemes to defraud Julia Ojiambo of her rights as the number two person in the party, the good lawyer is busy scheming to cause divisions in ODM! Now he is targeting William Ruto after failing to convince Uhuru Kenyatta to join him.

Did I hear something like Raila Odinga extending an olive branch to Kalonzo Musyoka to come back to ODM? If he did then it is true real politicians are their worst enemies. It is true they never see the most obvious pitfalls in their lives. If Raila Odinga brings back Kalonzo Musyoka to ODM then he must say goodbye to his victory at the next polls. He will surely lose Anyang’ Nyong’o, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi and possibly Joseph Nyagah to the other parties.
If Raila Odinga makes that blunder, a combination of Kalonzo Musyoka and other anti- Raila forces in the Rift Valley will take him to the cleaners.

Right now, ODM’s guarantee for survival hinges on strengthening the Pentagon in its present form. Those who left ODM recently must be kept away until after the elections. There are no vacancies for them anymore in the next five years. The five Pentagon members must form a lasting alliance for the next 20 years to stabilize democratic principles and practices in Kenya.

If they allow political charlatans back for purposes of a dangerous inclusivity; they will lose. Right now Kenyans are ready to vote an individual of their choice; not one of their tribes as they demonstrated at Kasarani a week ago. They would like to keep it that way.

Anything other than that will be considered another betrayal.