Monday, December 1, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
November 24, 2008

William Ruto is a changed man. After a stern rebuke from William Ole Ntimama earlier in the week, he saw his folly. Suddenly he was ready to compromise and allow the Waki report to be implemented without delay. All of a sudden, the report which he had chided as shoddy, full of rumors and innuendoes should now be implemented without further delay. Even then he didn’t fail to qualify his new stand; giving his statement a rider that now that it had been established that the Waki Report was not Gospel Truth, it should finally be necessary for the tribunal to be set up so that the real culprits of the post election violence are known.

It is true William Ole Ntimama’s rebuke was not the only cause for Ruto’s change of heart. Other ODM Pentagon members had played their part. While in Mombasa for an Agricultural Conference, Najib Balala had warned him of the folly of driving a car and abandoning it by the roadside before the journey was completed. But perhaps the clearest message to William Ruto came from his friend Franklin Bett who was caught on camera vowing to remain in ODM even if Ruto and others decamped to UDM.

Talking to the ODM Chairman at the Kisumu Airport nearly two weeks ago when he was heading for a prayer meeting in some parts of Nyanza, I got the impression that he was not about to quit ODM for whatever reason. After this meeting, I started hearing mixed signals coming from the region that they were in the ODM to stay and if need be would fight for their rights and space from within; an argument I thought was loaded with a sense of purpose and guided by conventional democratic practice. Yes, when members of a family differ, they don’t cut each others with machetes then burn the house. They sit together and reason as adults.

When Raila Odinga decided to host the Pentagon members to a dinner at his Karen home; it was a show of maturity not only for the host but the guests who readily accepted the invitation. In the privacy of his home, his peers had a chance to tell him off where he had erred. They also had an opportunity to rebuke Ruto and ask everyone to observe party discipline.

Much as we are lauding Raila Odinga and William Ruto for burying their perceived differences and reuniting the party; who will rein in on their supporters that may not see things their way? William Ruto has some belligerent supporters in Parliament whose role increasingly begins to be solely to wreck the party. If they are not whining about cabinet positions, they are fuelling ethnic animosity not only within the party but also between neighboring Kalenjin and Masai tribes. When Masais insist on conserving the Mau forest, these politicians would rather see deforestation merely to settle scores with the Prime Minister. Will they let Ruto be and allow peace to return to ODM?

Raila on the other hand has some Nyanza MPs that have taken partisan politics a notch higher. Take the case of the William Ruto’s meeting in Nyanza on issues of farming in Kenya; why did MPs boycott the meeting?

Yes, there may be political differences between top party leaders from time to time but it is childish to boycott such an important government meeting simply because two leaders have been disagreeing on fundamental pertinent issues. We expect our MPs from Nyanza to look up to Barack Obama and start emulating his style of working with everybody including those who fought him bitterly at the polls. On this score; one cannot fail to laud the exemplary decision taken by Hon Olago Aluoch of Kisumu West and James Rege of Karachuonyo for making the correct decision to attend Ruto’s meeting.

Now that William Ruto along with Musalia Mudavadi and Raila Odinga have decided to take a common stand on the implementation of the Waki report; let us hope that those misguided notions that the secret envelop had already condemned individuals will be discarded for the sake of the party and Kenya. Let those who are spoiling for a fight hold their horses until 2012 when the Kenyan electorate will have another opportunity to decide for themselves which MP was for them and which ones were not.