In a move reminiscent of the 2008 political parley that mid-wifed the grand coalition government, Raila Odinga, flanked by his political arch-nemesis Uhuru Kenyatta emerged from Harambee House and unveiled a “plan” that, in their view is going to put an end to the many vices bedeviling our nation.
A visibly beaming Odinga read a speech laden with unfortunate analogies like “software,” a chilling reminder of the slain IEBC ICT boss Chris Msando, and the “killings,” as a result of the 2017 election; an incredibly tough pill to swallow for those who lost loved ones in the infinite melees that followed the electoral thievery and many more. The duo laid out a catalog of issues that they believe ought to be tackled in a United Kenya.
But there is just one problem.
The duo spoke as if they just landed from a different planet. Standing next to Raila was the man squarely responsible for rolling back all the gains that the country had attained! That Raila was given the responsibility of rattling out the agenda is all the more telling. To trained minds, it was clear that a political quid pro quo was in play with Raila being the sole beneficiary. In a dime, all the issues that the change movement stood for were swept under the rug of national unity!
Is Jubilee now ready to correct all the wrongs done under Uhuruto? Standing next to Jakom was a man who single-handedly vowed to “revisit” the Judiciary via heavy-handedness and coercion, in solidarity with RAO, was a man whose regime presided over the calculated elimination of innocent civilians who were duped into believing that they were fighting for a noble cause!
Just like Moi before him, Kibaki used RAO to set the scene for a smooth transition into retirement.
All of a sudden, the tear gas canisters, the belligerent hooligans in uniform masquerading as law enforcement officers never happened. Those were scenes pulled from Hollywood action flicks. The illegal detentions and trigger-happy cops never featured. And the election? That was free and fair for we now know that Uhuru was legitimately elected as President on August 8, 2017. All thanks to the gesture by RAO.
No amount of spin can erase the political conmanship that we witnessed today. If RAO knew all along that his “brother” UK was legitimately elected President, why didn’t he make a concession call on the material day? Why whip up emotions and then put innocent folks in harm’s way if the end game is to shake your brother’s hand and forge a way forward?
While no one in their right mind can aver that they match RAO’s sacrifice to this nation, it also instructive to note that he is also human. He is a mortal, meaning he can also goof. And boy, this one is the mother of all goofs! How?
Let me explain.
Whatever the plans are, there can be no meaningful gains of national interest in this cavalier display of national unity. Moreover, from a political strategy standpoint, the establishment has figured RAO out. And it goes a little something like this: use whatever means possible to rob him his victory, then bring him back with faux executive title-cum-trappings of power to pacify him while you plot the next move past RAO.
RAO, staying true to form, accepted yet again, a political sanitation gig that will ensure that Uhuru Kenyatta gets a soft landing and after a smooth cruise into retirement aided by the very man whose electoral victory he stole and inexplicably, willingly offered to play a very familiar role of cleaning up the mess of brutal dictators and ensuring that they go home as political saints.
After rigging the election against Kibaki et al in 1997, Moi used this strategy by making RAO a ceremonial Secretary General of KANU – unbeknownst to RAO – and then waltzed his way to peaceful retirement after against all odds endorsing a 38-year-old Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred successor! At the time, it was like a big middle finger to all the presidential wannabes in KANU who were praying to be picked by Moi, Raila included.
Kibaki would later Xerox the same strategy in 2008 after robbing RAO in broad daylight. He gave RAO the post of the PM and a litany of watered down ministries to calm the cheerleaders. The plan was unveiled on the same steps of Harambee House no less! But it came at a hefty price by way of human lives. RAO would later helplessly watch yet another political robbery happen right under his nose! This time, the beneficiary was the man that he vehemently opposed way back in 2002. Just like Moi before him, Kibaki used RAO to set the scene for a smooth transition into retirement.
Fast-forward to 2018 and history is repeating itself again. There he was, after an incredible electoral heist at his expense, lots of lives lost and all the gains rolled back. RAO, staying true to form, accepted yet again, a political sanitation gig that will ensure that Uhuru Kenyatta gets a soft landing and after a smooth cruise into retirement aided by the very man whose electoral victory he stole and inexplicably, willingly offered to play a very familiar role of cleaning up the mess of brutal dictators and ensuring that they go home as political saints.
Yesterday, RAO the politician, perhaps in full realization that his time on the stage is over, decided to unveil a plan in which he gained something for himself and lost his soul. In the German language, we call it a Faustian bargain.
Mike Dande is a political analyst based in Washington DC.