Tuesday, August 25, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
August 25, 2009

I hold no brief for any individual in the ODM or the political arena. In fact, I owe no allegiance to any individual politician in this country. Therefore what I’m going to say may not please many people on both sides of the ODM divide.

I have this feeling that the leading lights in the ODM are either drunk with their newly acquired status or they are just a bunch of idiots. The more they continue with this reckless bravado, throwing brick bats at one another, the more they will surely drown together in the cesspool of Kenyan politics.

Let me start with Raila Odinga’s costly political blunders.

Way back 2002 when Raila Odinga parted ways with Moi, Ruto, Uhuru and all to join Kibaki and Wamalwa, he made us believe that as soon as KANU was out of power, all the injustices, all the corruption and illegal acquisition of public lands and buildings would be reclaimed back by the government.
We were made to believe that the perpetrators of Golden Berg scam would be brought to book.

We were made to believe that those who were detained and tortured during the Nyayo era would seek and find justice. And make no mistake; Kenyans truly believed that Kibaki’s speech at his inauguration would be the modus operandi of the NARC government.

On that day, two things happened. First, Kenyans who had believed that Moi was the architect of all that was wrong with Kenya literally threw mud at him. Secondly, Kibaki, on reading the mood of the people, declined to thank or even acknowledge Moi’s presence at the ceremony, even though it was Moi who handed him the instruments of power.

However, as the most hopeful Kenyans waited to see what the new government would do with the former regime’s corruption architects, as they waited to see if indeed Pattni and company would go to jail or be forced to refund public funds looted from the Treasury, the political back peddling started in earnest within the ranks of the NARC coalition.

As Kiraitu Murungi was rearing to go with warnings to Moi to prepare for a possible prosecution, early rifts in NARC made Raila change tune about prosecuting or “harassing” Moi. He publicly defended Moi and by extension his entire team against prosecution.

Raila could have made this tactical retreat as a fallback position considering that the fallout in NARC was becoming more eminent with each passing day.

The premiership promised him in his MoU with Kibaki on the eve of the 2002 elections was proving a mirage. He was slowly realizing that he had been conned once again the same way Moi had done before just 12 months earlier at Kasarani, the day he dissolved NDP to join KANU.

When he publicly declared that he would oppose Moi’s prosecution, he literally poured cold water on Murungi’s drive to deal with excesses of the past regime. Murungi knew that Raila had a sizeable majority in Parliament and any move he opposed would resonate well with other parties like KANU that at the time were under siege.

For awhile, Raila’s tactic paid some dividends. As the rift in NARC widened during the Bomas Constitution Review conference, KANU members drew closer and closer to Raila’ LDP. And by the time Kenyans were trooping to the polls for the referendum, even Daniel arap Moi and Uhuru Kenyatta, his main rivals in the 2002 polls had thrown their weight behind Raila. He won the contest against Kibaki.

This alliance continued to rise as the 2007 polls drew closer, save for the bolting out of Kalonzo Musyoka, Uhuru Kenya and Daniel arap Moi, leaving William Ruto to fight a pitched battle against the Moi family for the control of Rift Valley.

However, all along, Kenyan skeptics were weary of Raila joining forces with people he had spent the better part of his life fighting against. Their worry was that, at some point after he had saved them from possible prosecution, they would regroup and turn against him.

Skeptics were vindicated when Kalonzo Musyoka, Moi and Uhuru bolted out of ODM to join Kibaki against Raila. Ruto only remained because he had soiled his relations with Moi beyond redemption at the time.

Now Raila has to pay the price of rehabilitating a vanquished foe too soon. After being in power for a quarter century, KANU stalwarts should have been kept in political limbo for at least 20 years as the new regime was finding its feet. That is what Moi did to the remnants of the Kenyatta regime. It is what Yoweri Museveni did to the remnants of Obote and Okello regimes.

If you doubt this, ask Charles Njonjo, GG Kariuki, Njoroge Mungai, Stanley Githunguri, John Michuki, Charles Rubia, Kenneth Matiba and Ngegi Muigai.

Kalenjin warriors have fought three main wars since 1992. All of them have passed for ethnic clashes, tribal clashes or land skirmishes. They are not wars that have been fought in broad day light in armed combat. More often than not, they have waited until children, women and the aged have gone to sleep and torched their homes or shot them with arrows under the cover of darkness.

On paper, particularly on the pages of newspaper headlines, the Kalenjin MPs allied to William Ruto project the picture of a brave lot. They look prepared to move mountains, cross any rivers and valleys to protect their own. I think this is a good stand considering that they are politicians whose power they wield today depends on the votes from their electorate.

Furthermore, I think the Rift Valley MPs miffed with Raila Odinga have a point. They supported Raila because they wanted to share his power for the protection of themselves and their people.

The struggle between Minister Ruto’s men and Raila the Prime Minister reminds me of many American movies I have watched over the years. In such movies, the CIA has a problem rescuing some Americans held hostage in some wild and dangerous prison camp in Hanoi or Afghanistan. The only way they can do that is too look for a hardcore criminal serving life imprisonment who knows the terrain and a good soldier to send on a mission. In such circumstances, the CIA negotiates the criminal’s release if he accepts to go on the mission.

Ruto’s men are in a rage because despite being criminals, they agreed to fight Raila’s wars in order to be forgiven and protected from future harassment. The package included the regime foregoing claims to Mau Forest, ADC lands, grabbed city plots and property, the plunder of state banks including the Central Bank for two decades and most of all, forgiving Moi for all the atrocities he might have committed for 24 years he was in power.

But because Raila is not keeping to his side of the bargain, now that he is in power, they must protest. Their protest is normal and expected under the circumstances.
Where I come from, we have a village saying that “he who keeps the company of a night-runner must be a night-runner too. He, who keeps the company of a thief, must be a thief too.”

When Raila became bosom friends with William Ruto despite the fact that man had already been charged in court for grabbing public land and selling it to the Kenya Pipe Line company, in principle, he accepted Ruto with all his baggage. And by extension this hand of friendship was extended to all Rift Valley Kalenjins who might have irregularly benefitted from Moi’s generosity during his last days in power. This is the reason the Kalenjins trooped to Raila’s ODM in his hour of need because in him they had found a savior.

However, the bravado the Kalenjin warriors are displaying at the moment; the way they want to deal with Raila is misguided, reckless and lacks in intelligence if not outright foolhardy.

First the Mau Forest is not Raila’s forest. Secondly, the decision to remove squatters was not Raila’s decision. It was a collective cabinet decision in which William Ruto, Sally Kosgey, Henry Kosgey and Franklin Bett sit.

Secondly, the decision to evict squatters was a presidential directive on authority of the cabinet and given by Mwai Kibaki personally in broad day light. It was Kibaki that invoked his executive powers and directed Raila his Prime Minister to oversee the immediate eviction of squatters from Mau Forest.

Now, to turn their guns on Raila when they know very well that they have in the recent past secretly met President Kibaki over the issue is to display deep sense of desperation.

They met Kibaki at Harambee House and gleefully came out to announce that Kibaki had agreed to deal with them and that squatters would not be moved.

If I were the 23 Rift Valley MPs, I would vent my anger at the man who made us believe that we could ignore Raila then later go on a public podium to trash our secret deal. I would rave at the President for making us the laughing stock of our community.

However, now that they have turned their rage on the messenger, let us for a moment digest their action.

They have gone ahead to invite President Kibaki to visit Rift Valley but hastened to tell Raila Odinga that he is not welcome. In other words it is fine for Kibaki to break his promise to them within days and be forgiven but not Raila.

These MPs are forgetting that the Mau Forest is a national issue that is affecting the entire region. They are forgetting that it was Kibaki who gave the eviction orders last week. To behave the way they are behaving is like a criminal whose arrest has been ordered by a police chief. However, instead of confronting the police chief to rescind the order, the criminal turns against the arresting officer as he tries desperately to befriend the chief!

If my reading is right, evictions will go on, the Mau Forest will be replanted with trees and Kibaki will not go to Rift Valley soon unless he is an idiot.
If the Rift Valley warrior-MPs are ready to go to war, they must remember that it will not be Raila’s war. It will be Rift Valley against the forces of the state.

If they doubt me, let them ask the people of Northern Frontier District and the people of Nyanza who rose against the Kenyatta regime in the 1960s and the Kikuyu independence warriors of 1951 whose rose against the colonial government. Let them remember too, the Mwakenya warriors whose rose against the Moi regime in the 1980s.

There is always a small price to pay for such bravado. I hope they have prepared their community for it.

jerryokungu@gmail.com: www.africanewsonline.blogspot.com