Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who’s Smarter Now? – Why Raila is Laughing at Kibaki

There is never a dull day in Kenyan politics. Just when I had imagined that the nation would be taking a break to concentrate on love, Raila Odinga in his capacity as Prime Minister granted Kenyans a Valentine’s present. He suspended two ministers mentioned adversely in corruption reports. That was high drama and a great climax. The movie ought to have ended. But President Mwai Kibaki was not done with his script. He granted the two ministers a timely gift by revoking the Prime Minister’s action. A twist in the twist and I am sure the movie is far from over. Kenyan’s were reminded of the intrigue following Raila’s action to evict settlers from Mau forest. It had been alleged that the President had set up the Prime Minister for what would be his political death and burial. Raila still stands. So did the President take a second shot at the target? Was Raila once again set up for the end of his political career?

A story is told of a woman who married rich men only to divorce them and take away a part of their fortune. She one day executed this strategy on a man who proved more devious and he managed to take all her wealth. In retaliation, she formulated a strategy by pretending to have come into a great inheritance making her twice as rich as she was before. Her former lover returned claiming to have fallen in love. She demanded to sign a prenuptial agreement that would protect both of them from any schemes. On their wedding night, the man, overtaken by emotion tore his copy of the prenupt. She tore hers copy as well. She was now entitled to half his wealth, and he, half her poverty. That is a good set up.

I imagine now that if there is anyone who blindly fell into the other’s trap, it is Kibaki. Raila has never been known to have long term strategies but his tactics have always served him in the long run. After the political murk out of which he had to dig himself on the Mau evictions, I would highly doubt that Raila would fall into a similar trap. In fact, Kibaki must either be very optimistic or must take Raila for a fool to expect him to take bait for a second time. The dynamics of the latest political fiasco paint only one picture albeit blurry. Raila set up Kibaki and the President has gladly plunged into a pit of political disapproval.

Raila planned this set up for a while. First, he dared Kibaki in public to fire the Professor Ongeri on allegation of involvement in the misappropriation of funds allotted fro the Free Primary Education Program. Kibaki must have orchestrated the leakage of a report that would place Raila’s office amidst the doubt. The PWC report on the maize scandal implicated two officers who worked quite closely with the Prime Minister. If he was to call for any resignations, he would have to lead by example. But Raila moved fast and asked Dr. Mohammed Isahakia and Mr. Caroli Omondi to resign. With a new pair of clean briefs, the Prime Minister turned up the ante by demanding the resignations of Ongeri and William Ruto.

But this public sparring had long mutated from a war against corruption to a courtship of the public. The stakes became the political mileage of public opinion. Raila had won the first round by becoming the most trusted politician after his unwavering campaign to protect Mau Forest. While Kibaki was still reeling from the effect of a foiled strategy, Raila had decided to be more pro-active. On Valentine’s Day, he took a break from a delicious meal made by Ida to announce that in his capacity as supervisor of government business, he was suspending Ruto and Ongeri from their Agriculture and Education dockets respectively. They must have interrupted their meals to react to the move, denouncing it as ultra vires and inconsequential.

At a time when the Prime Minister may have gone into farther political lobbying, he went on to cheer the AFC Leopards at Nyayo Stadium. That is the demeanor of a confident man, not a man fumbling with the legality or lack thereof of such a high profile political gamble. For him if fact, it must have been akin to setting a mouse trap and waiting to hear it snap! Raila said in his statement that, “Requisite consultation has been conducted.” He was answering the question as to whether Kibaki backed his decision. With the wealth of legal minds in his corner, Raila must have played with the likely outcomes of such a move. If Kibaki backed him, he would have won by taking out Ruto whose spanking has been long overdue at the same time as coming out as sincere in the war against corruption. Should Kibaki ‘betray’ him and denounce the move, Raila would suddenly become the victim - the hero of the nation betrayed by greedy and selfish men who care nothing for the country. Friends of Ruto. Either way, Raila wins in the battle for public opinion. Either way, Kibaki would dim the political light in Ruto’s house.

This is why I will swear that wherever he is, Raila is smiling at the unfolding situation. It must be scrumptious. Kibaki has come out as a traitor and a protector of the political elite who have fleeced Kenyans through their positions. In his move, he has bundled Ruto and Ongeri among that elite fellowship. Raila has come out as the never tiring advocate for justice and integrity. In fact the question of whether or not his move was legal is far from Raila’s mind. His legal advisors must have brought it to his attention that he cannot “fire” any ministers. That would require Kibaki’s concurrence. But in his role, he can “suspend” them for a defined period of time to facilitate investigations into the allegations of corruption. That would not require concurrence from Kibaki.

Raila courted Kibaki into a marriage with a prenuptial agreement. Kibaki has torn the agreement only to realize that Raila had no wealth from which he would have gained in the first place. He has since gone on an "official trip" to Japan. He carried his popocorn and will be watching this movie unfold on 3D Sony Plasma screens.

The Candid Tin Man.


  1. You are right whichever way you look at it - Fighting corruption was never the issue here- its all about politics and perceptions and unfortunately as a Kenyan I cannot join Raila in popping the champaign- in his victory as a Kenyan Iam screwed!Indeed if an election was to be called today, he would probably win, thanks to his 'rat trap', and we would be in for another round of plunder from him, his family and the benovolent 'businessmen' that oil his campaign machine. But again I would not be any better with Kibaki, Ruto or any of the KKK charlatans. I guess our collective fate is sealed- Kenyans should just get used to and probably try to enjoy getting screwed over and over again!

  2. Hadn't looked at it from that perpective, but now that you bring i makes sense..
    Can'twait for the theatrics that will follow this coming days...



Recent Comments