Sunday, August 21, 2011



By MAKAU MUTUA Posted Saturday, August 20 2011 at 16:27


  • Mistake: Mr Miguna made no secret that he’d take a bullet for Mr Odinga. Therein lay his fatal mistake. He confused himself with Mr Odinga

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Today I want to reflect on Mr Miguna Miguna’s disgraceful exit from the public stage. It was long overdue.

But I have one piece of advice for Mr Miguna — don’t attempt to go mano-a-mano with Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Accept your sacking with humility and move on. Remember the Chinese saying — the peacock that raises its head gets shot.

A senior aide who loses his boss’s confidence must go without making a fuss. It’s unseemly to protest the sack too loudly. It betrays a problem of entitlement.

Servants in the “king’s court” don’t have public minds of their own. Most advisers toil in darkness and don’t compete with their bosses for attention. Here’s why you got tossed.

First, Mr Miguna forgot why he was useful to Mr Odinga. Presidential candidates — and Mr Odinga is one — must focus on winning elections. The candidate’s men and women must do everything to make him electable.

Candidate’s fortunes

Any aide or adviser who doesn’t understand this cardinal rule shouldn’t be around. The candidate’s electability is at the centre of everything. Nothing else matters. Aides must pour themselves body and soul into the candidate’s fortunes.

This is true the world over. President Barack Obama’s advisers know this, or they’d be gone in a nanosecond. I believe that Mr Miguna forgot that his utility would end if his actions and words became counterproductive to Mr Odinga’s election chances. That’s why he had to go.

A presidential campaign is like a choir, and the conductor is the candidate. This is especially true in Kenya where the candidate is more important than the party.

No one else in the party — or in the employ of the candidate — is allowed to compete with the candidate for attention. Some will counter that Mr Miguna was a State official, not a party hack. I say baloney.

He spent his waking and sleeping hours — at taxpayer expense — fighting ODM’s wars against PNU. Mr Miguna made no secret that he’d take a bullet for Mr Odinga. Therein lay his fatal mistake. He confused himself with Mr Odinga. That’s why he was accused of treating MPs like his subordinate underlings.

Second, there can only be one lion king. If you doubt me, go see for yourself at the Maasai Mara. Parties must speak with one authoritative voice. That’s why Eldoret North MP William Ruto must leave ODM. There can’t be two rats in one hole, as an African proverb reminds us.

His column

Often, Mr Miguna publicly expressed views contrary to Mr Odinga’s and those of senior ODM MPs and party secretariat. In his column, he would disclaim that the views were his and not ODM’s or the PM’s.

That’s nonsense in politics. Spokesmen, advisers and aides cannot contradict their bosses in public. Mr Miguna did so every day. Which begs the question — was he or Mr Odinga ODM’s ultimate voice?

My view is that Mr Miguna grew too big for his breeches. He fancied himself ODM’s “thinker” and key ideologue. To him, many of the MPs in ODM were reactionary.

He regarded the PM’s secretariat as anti-reform, lazy, and dim-witted. He would churn out many position briefs for the PM. Whether he was right or not isn’t the point.

But he reportedly never tired of reminding them of their incompetence. However, Mr Miguna thought he was “untouchable” because he had Mr Odinga’s ear. That’s naive.

The man made enemies everywhere — in ODM, among MPs, in the secretariat. That’s why they all combined forces for a take-down. Mr Odinga had to choose between Mr Miguna and ODM.

Third, Mr Odinga finally realised that Mr Miguna was a liability. The man reminds one of a child bully in a sandbox. He labours mightily to use “big” words and phrases. This makes his writing look phony. What looks to some like intellectual arrogance is academic insecurity.

Otherwise, there’s no reason to hurl insults at everybody who disagrees with you. Add the uncouth language to his dress — especially the hats — and a rather comical image emerges. He actually reminds me of the former Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Zabanga.

That’s a lot of pomp. Mr Odinga must have known that such a “comical image” conjures up bad African memories. That’s no way to woo discerning voters.

Finally, Mr Odinga may have suspected that Mr Miguna was simply using his “zealotry” to serve as pretext to advance himself. Mr Odinga is in robust health. But I am sure many Luo politicians are scheming to succeed him.

Who will inherit the enviable Odinga mantle when Jaramogi’s son retires from politics? Mr Miguna may have been positioning himself.

But he’s not alone, except perhaps he was too indiscreet. Mr Odinga may have been convinced by others of this clever plot. No politician enjoys talk of succeeding him.

Swift and surgical

You can think the thought — and even plan it — but don’t expose your left flank, or be obvious about it. Otherwise, decapitation could be swift and surgical.

Those who say Mr Miguna fell because of “interfering” with the electoral commission are looking in the wrong place. Nor should they blame PNU. Mr Miguna’s fall is an internal ODM affair. He doesn’t fit in Mr Odinga’s 2012 electoral chessboard.

He’s an embarrassing distraction and a loose cannon that is more likely to repel votes than attract them. He’s a glutton for public attention, which is a no-no for an aide. He was useful as a hard worker, but had too many downsides.

I suspect the more established wing of ODM did him in. He should live to fight another day.


  1. Submitted by otishotish

    To HENRY84: Use your head. Is Mutua employed by Raila?

    Posted August 21, 2011 06:53 PM
  2. Submitted by NativeSon

    Mr. Otenga, procedure or no procedure, you cannot outshine your boss. What part of that don't you understand? That is one of the 48 laws of power. Miguna formed a parallel centre of power to the master and became an impediment to the overall objective, propping up the party, ODM and the maseter. He had to go.

    Posted August 21, 2011 06:40 PM
  3. Submitted by HENRY84

    .........Spokesmen, advisers and aides cannot contradict their bosses in public. Which begs the QUESTION, mutua ''What are you in Railas'/ODM inner circle, because as I know you have never contrandicted him or ODM in public??

    Posted August 21, 2011 06:04 PM
  4. Submitted by kachakwa

    prof. why cant you throw caution to the wind, and say openly raila tosha.stop hinding behind you pen, or is it in usa!

    Posted August 21, 2011 04:50 PM
  5. Submitted by Otenga

    The procedure followed to fire him leaves a lot to be desired. I am 100% sure that this is one case Miguna is not going to loose!

    Posted August 21, 2011 04:03 PM
  6. Submitted by kibash

    There's one thing I remember Miguna telling Raila and I thought it was true: The "50-50" power sharing deal was not actually 50-50! And thats why it did not have the toilets and red carpets. Raila should have listened! Diaspoliticians are not likely to be our saviour, it seems.

    Posted August 21, 2011 04:03 PM
  7. Submitted by obungurapemo

    Mutua, I am very disappointed in your article because it seems to be written out of malice. Miguna, was a civil servant and was fired without being according his due process rights. The comparison with the US white house is not honest and you know it. This is hypocricy of the highest order and coming from someone who ought to know better is rather disappointing.

    Posted August 21, 2011 03:29 PM
  8. Submitted by jelnam

    Yet again the Prof panders over anything that may remotely potray the PM in a bad light! While his analysis of the situation with MM may be correct, as a law don he should have addressed the procedural irregularities in the sacking but doing so would certainly push dung right into RAO's doorstep!

    Posted August 21, 2011 03:16 PM
  9. Submitted by Toureh

    Mr.Mutua,nice review of Miguna's woes,it seems you've been studying him for quite some time!Expect a reply from him and he'll definitely tear you raw!

    Posted August 21, 2011 03:12 PM
  10. Submitted by watermelon

    A wonderful peace Mutua. I love this, ''Those who say Mr Miguna fell because of “interfering” with the electoral commission are looking in the wrong place......... He doesn’t fit in Mr Odinga’s 2012 electoral chessboard''. Here you summarize the entire article and it shows your brilliance and academic prowess. Well done Prof.

    Posted August 21, 2011 02:45 PM
  11. Submitted by mwaimbugua

    Very interesting and insightful. The beauty of education is being flexible and able to live with people, even those with divergent views. I only see a learned Mr Miguna but not educated!

    Posted August 21, 2011 02:20 PM
  12. Submitted by kif_kes

    Good observation but it looks like most of your articles becomes irrelevant if you dont drag in the name William Ruto. Try writting about the positive side of this name since I know you will never miss.

    Posted August 21, 2011 02:16 PM
  13. Submitted by jfeo

    Sometimes it pay to tell a colleague the truth. The title of your message is revealing.

    Posted August 21, 2011 02:16 PM
  14. Submitted by kmmohan

    You have analysed MM properly. Most of it is correct and in the public knowledge.But I disagree with your contention that his argument he was a civil servant albeit on contract is baloney. It's not nonsense. The man should have been eased out properly. I think the outcome of his suit in the HC will prove that. As for his dress and muslim caps, it's a personal choice. You will agree that even Raila often appear in dresses resembling those of band masters with only the wand missing.

    Posted August 21, 2011 01:59 PM
  15. Submitted by muthinja1

    Right on, Prof. Miguna's exit was long overdue, and should be followed by secretary general's. These gentlemen (sic) forget to articulate and moderate ODM's positions to sympathy.

    Posted August 21, 2011 12:56 PM
  16. Submitted by Felix258

    then people shud not blame Sir Alfred Mutua for carrying out his duties if u agree with this article.

    Posted August 21, 2011 09:51 AM
  17. Submitted by VickieVinn

    Well said.

    Posted August 21, 2011 09:06 AM
  18. Submitted by Neo_kenyan

    I absolutely concur Miguna grew too big for his breeches and fancied himself ODM’s “thinker”. However, I cannot recall any writer or politician who is as insightful, possesses such clarity of thought and addresses the issues with candor. For all his despicable arrogance I am very impressed by the man

    Posted August 21, 2011 12:34 AM
  19. Submitted by githinyo2011

    Martha Karua got the same medication and she has learnt to live with it. Miguna Miguna can always practice law or sell insurance. Wish him well!

    Posted August 20, 2011 09:13 PM