11th February, 2013 has booked its place in history as the day when Kenya’s first ever presidential debate took place. On stage were the six men and the two boys, Raila Amolo Odinga, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi, Peter Kenneth, Martha Wangari Karua, James Ole Kiyiapi, Paul Kabugi Muite and last but not least Mohammed Abduba Dida. Despite my initial reservations as to whether we could manage to pull off a successful debate, I have nothing but effusive praise for the organizers and the moderators Linus Kaikai and Julie Gichuru. Not even the surprise announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he would be resigning would steal the thunder from the debate. Tuning in to BBC’s Newshour programme at 2000 Hrs GMT, it was clear that we were in the cross-hairs of the world. In America, the trend and practice is to hold the debate between those who have the clout, here, even the pundas had to come to race with the horses.
Overall, none of the candidates impressed me to a level whereby I can change my mind to vote for any of them. That aside, I do not think that any of the candidates managed to set out his or her agenda for this country and its people for the next five years, too much time was spent on blaming and defending. There was no clear line of thought and plan of action from any of the candidates on defence, national security and insecurity, corruption, healthcare and education and educational infrastructure. All we heard were hackneyed promises some which are unsustainable. The message to Kenyans was, we will not work for you, and do not risk trusting us. I have in my short life been able to watch several presidential debates, the first one in 2008 between Senators Barack Obama, the second in 2010 featuring Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron. Last year, I took time to listen to Radio France International to hear Nicholas Sarkozy debate Francois Hollande. Yesterday’s event was a question and answer session, not debate per se. Compared with what happened yesterday, we are still light years behind as far as “debating” goes. The candidates carried themselves with decorum, a manner that is so unlike Kenyan politicians. But their key uniting trait stood out like a sore thumb, the incorrigible lying ability.
Uhuru came out of the debate as not just an insincere leader, bur person. Uhuru has never, does not and will never work for the national good of this country; he cares about himself, his family and his businesses. The Hague ICC’s albatross around his neck was not as a result of Raila or his buddies, it was planned and executed by Uhuru and his allies so for him to blame Raila was just conduct unbecoming. Just like his fellow musketeers, instead of being factual and dealing with the questions directed at them, they skirted around the questions and went on a lying path. Uhuru Kenyatta knows that he never curtailed the use of fuel guzzlers by state officials, yet he unashamedly stands before the whole world to proclaim the same. Every person who lives in Nairobi and walks these streets knows that even as he was lying at Brookhouse School, Karen, right in that compound, some GK and blue plated fuel guzzlers were parked. His ICC woes aside, a lying president is the last thing we need to get out of the muck we are in. On tribalism, Uhuru is a tribalist per excellence. As much as I repsct Hon. Beth Wambui Mugo, I do not think that Uhuru had any other basis for forwarding her name for nomination as a senator except the fact that they are cousins.
Jakom was the big boss of the day, upende usipende (perennially termed the frontrunner by most people) as usual made much use of selective memory fused with sprinklings of outright lies. Too bad they would not let him spice up the show with his Kiswahili anecdotes and proverbs. Raila has already shown that he can build bridges, forgive past wrongs and move on by working with past foes that turning them into lethal forces. He buried the hatchet with dictator Moi who had him spend several stints in detention( sincerely speaking, If I had been , he has worked wit Kibaki despite the post 2002 MOU and subsequent dropping from the government he helped elect and form, he is currently working with Kenya’s best known traitor and watermelon Kalonzo Musyoka who bolted with ODM-K’s certificate in 2007 and later rushed into a mpango wa kando affair with Kibaki in 2008 when Raila and Kenyans were demanding justice and peace in the country. But when it comes to the common people needs, Raila always washes his hands and leaves them at their own devices. On the ability of Uhuru to govern Kenya via Skype, I concur with him fully. His thoughts on healthcare were evidently contrary to the thoughts of Kenyan workers, employers and taxpayers. We do not want to pump any more money into the government healthcare scheme because it does nothing apart from paying salaries of fat cats. He is the government but whining about the “big boys,” by the mere fact that he is the coordinator and supervisor of all ministries and ministers with the power to hire and fire, the buck stops at his Shell & BP House on Harambee Avenue. On tribalism, Raila is not a tribalist but keen enforcer of nepotism, his key appointments revolve around his family and relatives and not the Luo community at all, in this respect he escapes the tribalist tag.
On the issue of parties and party ideologies, I do not understand what was so hard with Raila accepting that he has moved through several parties. It is common knowledge and didn’t stand to lose any vote by being truthful. In 1996, he defected from Ford Kenya after the Thika fiasco and resigned from parliament, formed National Development Party (Tinga Tinga), got re-elected in the ensuing by-election to Parliament and used the same party to vie for the presidency in 1997 where he emerged a strong third. On March 18th 2001, he led NDP to merger with Moi’s KANU to form new Kanu where he was anointed its secretary general, appointed the minster for energy and his key lieutenants including Dr. Adhu Awiti appointed to key positions in government.
In 2002, I was in Uhuru Park when Prof. Larry Gumbe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP – whose colours I vividly remember because the banner was raised were blue and yellow) was turned over to Jakom, after the 2005 referendum, (where the no team captained by Raila carried the day) it has been said that it was Najib Balala who floated the idea of turning the winning team’s movement into a party. It later transpired that Orange Democratic Movement had already been registered at the Registrar General’s Office. Orange Democratic Movement Kenya Orange Democratic Movement Kenya was formed; among its key luminaries were Jakom, Watermelon, Balala, Mudavadi, Joe Nyagah, Uhuru, Ruto and few other nondescript bootlickers. When Kalonzo the spoiler took off with ODM-K, Nairobi Lawyer Mugambi Imanyara came to the rescue and handed Jakom the certificate for Orange Democratic Movement. This is indeed the current party he is still leading. For him to lie that he just changed names of the parties indicated that he is not a social democrat he claims to be but just another Machiavellian politician.