Tuesday, May 13, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

I left for Tanzania the day all roads were leading to Kisumu for the Prime Minister’s home coming celebrations.
However, soon after the Kisumu rallies were over on Saturday, signs that all was not well were all there to see. For the first time, Raila Odinga’s base support was not enthusiastic about his successes even though as an individual they still adored him immensely.

For some reason, they were uncomfortable with him mentioning the President’s name. If anything they told Raila that a number of his PNU partners were not welcome in Nyanza. To show their discomfort, William Ruto and Chris Obure had to talk about the National Accord principals without mention the other partner. They were content to talk of the accord between Raila Odinga and the “other person!”

There are a number of challenges that President Kibaki and Prime Minister must confront together. One of such challenges is how to deal with their respective supporters that are pursuing their own agenda.

Right now, every big tribe feels s short changed in the present arrangement. Back benchers have equally joined the bandwagon.

Following Raila’s Nyanza home-coming that was skipped by virtually all PNU big wigs, will they join the Prime Minister when he embarks on other provincial homecoming parties now that his supporters in Nyanza have made it clear that there are enemies in the coalition they would rather not see around Agwambo?

Memories of Kalonzo Musyoka’s fate in Rift Valley when he unwisely joined the two principals’ peace mission are still very fresh in the minds of like-minded PNU ministers- when the pro ODM crowd almost stopped him from addressing rallies in the province. Will they venture to accompany Raila Odinga to some of these volatile regions?

The land issue and the resettlement of IDPs are still as volatile as ever. Much as the government is bent on forcing the IDPs back to their parcels of land, the same coalition government is facing resistance from two fronts; the IDPs who still don’t feel safe from more possible violence and starvation since the government has not provided enough of both. Then there are the Rift Valley politicians who are uncomfortable with the government’s forced repatriation to what they consider their ancestral lands. If not handled carefully, chances of them exploding are very real.
However, the two most explosive issues that affect Raila Odinga personally are the Mungiki issue he has chosen to deal with and the rebellion from the backbenchers in Parliament.

Personally I had foreseen the latter happening but I had no idea Raila Odinga would have anything to do with the Mungiki sect, at least not now.

The back bench fiasco has its roots in the bloated cabinet that Kenyans overwhelmingly cried foul about. My argument then was simple; if I am a member of parliament in a house of 220 members and out of that 90 people are appointed to the cabinet, I would feel cheated and embarrassed in my constituency for failing to be among the first 90 deserving MPs! It is the arbitrary culture of naming the cabinet with no clear selection criteria that is acceptable to the majority that is causing unrest in parliament.

The Mungiki issue is rather perplexing. The murderous sect remains a banned movement in Kenya whose activities are supposed to be either clandestine or nonexistent.
In the last one year, the Mungiki sect carried out some of the most gruesome killings that left the whole nation numbed. Interestingly, most of their targets were fellow Kikuyus except when a few of them were hired and unleashed on non Kikuyus at the height of post election violence in Naivasha and Nakuru.

During the same period, the then Internal Security Minister, went on full offensive against the sect with the sole resolve to exterminate them once and for all. He is rumored to have ordered the execution of at least five hundred of their leaders and adherents. They only got a reprieve from the government when election related violence broke out all over the country; when the regime needed their services.

Now that Raila Odinga has found a formula to tame the Mungiki through dialogue, will the sect get from Raila Odinga what has eluded them over the years in their accords with first KANU in 2002 and the NARC regime in 2003? And if they don’t get their pound of flesh, will they turn against the Prime Minister as they did against the Kibaki regime?

Now that they have decided to back their candidate under the ODM umbrella for the Embakasi seat, will this love affair with ODM last until 2012? How will the Kikuyu political elite take this betrayal of their kin giving political support to Raila Odinga?