I take this opportunity to thank the people of Kenya for their peaceful and respectful demeanor shown before, during and after the March 4th 2013 General Elections. I also have the honour of congratulating president-elect Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and the Deputy President Elect William Samoei Ruto and wish them the very best of success as they embark on this journey of healing and leading our great nation Kenya. May God continue granting us peace, prosperity and unity despite our differences.
History has once gain repeated itself; William Kipchirchir Samoei Arap Ruto who has the ability to both convince and confuse has made sure that the horse he is not backing does not get into State House. In 2007, Mwai Kibaki banked his hopes on retired president Daniel Moi to clinch the votes of the Kalenjin nation while Jakom Raila Amolo Odinga countered with the Ruto trump card. While people considered Ruto an overly ambitious political greenhorn not worth his weight in salt, the Kalenjin nation had different thoughts. The result was disastrous for Moi and Kibaki, at the end of the contest in the ensuing battle for State House, more than 1,300 people had lost their lives, more than 600,000 people had been displaced and property worth millions (or billions!) of shillings destroyed. In Kalenjin nation, Moi’s family was to rmain in the political cold for 5 years – Gideon Moi having been trounced by Ruto’s friend and former lands commissioner Sammy Mwaita.
When the National Accord was signed at the steps of the office of the president’s Harambee House in the presence of Koffi Annan, Benjamin Mkapa, Graca Machel, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Miguna Miguna amongst others in February, 2008, many assumed that as Raila’s foot soldier Ruto would clinch a key post in the re-constituted coalition government. This was not to be as Raila had to do a balancing act with whatever crumbs of the mkate nusu were thrown his way. With only twenty ministerial portfolios and the deputy prime minister’s portfolio, he was perhaps ill-advised that handing the deputy premier’s position and the local government ministry to Ruto would massively raise the stature and profile of Ruto. He thus gave Musalia Mudavadi the two positions and gave Ruto the equally powerful Agriculture portfolio which had slightly over thirty parastatals under it ambit. If this was meant to clip the wings of Ruto, the plan appears to have backfired.
The parting point came when Ruto was accused of having a hand in the maize scandal. Ruto claimed that the Ikolomani legislator Dr. Bonni Khalwale censure motion in 2009 was orchestrated by none other than Raila himself; the bullfighter was just a patsy. This was because the likes of Raila’s henchmen Orengo and Otieno Kajwang’ were baying for Ruto’s blood and spoiling for a fight, calling for his stepping aside. It was claimed that the PNU wing of the government led by Kiraitu Murungi and Uhuru Kenyatta met at Palacina Hotel along State House Road to stategise on how to help Ruto defeat the censure motion. When they emerged victorious, Ruto called a press conference at his Kilimo House office and asked Raila to face him as a man and not use underhand tactics. This indeed was the beginning of the friendship of Uhuru and Ruto which culminated in their election as the president and deputy president respectively and the end of the camaraderie between Raila and Ruto.
From then on, it was evident that the die had been cast and the bridges between the two elephants had been burnt. Going forward, their relationship took a turn for the worse. Given the fact that both men are very ambitious and ruthless in execution of their ambitions, a casualty had to be found from between them. In 2010, Raila considered Ruto to have grown too big for his breeches and decided to cut him to size and tried to fire (suspend was the term he used) Ruto only for Kibaki to re-instate him based on some ambiguous legal arguments advanced by the then Attorney-General Amos Sitswila Wako that although Raila had the power to appoint, he did not have the power to fire. Ruto was later transferred to Jogoo House to head the Ministry of Higher Education swapping places with Dr. Sally Kosgei who took the reigns at Kilimo House. Ruto and his supporters took this as a demotion. Raila was to have the last laugh when Ruto had to step aside after the high court put him on his defence in relation to a Kenya Pipeline Company land deal. Even though Kioko Kilukumi won the court battle, the International Criminal Court (ICC) sword of Damocles prevented his return to the cabinet. He later resigned himself to fate and decided to concentrate on his presidential quest.
Raila it seems never learnt from Kibaki’s mistake or history, but repeated it to a t. He decided in his own words to engage the people “directly” and found no need for elected leaders except those who obeyed his orders and sung his song like Henry Kosgei, Musa Sirma, Magerer Langat, Dr. Sally Kosgei, Frankline Bett and others. He forgot, one key element of Kenyan politics; that it is sadly but true a very tribal and parochial affair – our form of democracy – and that’s why Luo Nyanza votes him to a man, Central province always votes for mundu wa nyumba to the last man, My Kamba brothers have perfected the same art of and Kalenjins appear to have taken the block vote thing too seriously. So while Uhuru understood the practical dynamics, Raila sat back and relied on pollsters and celebrity endorsements, while Uhuru roped in Johnson Sakaja for his campaign, Raila countered with the vitriolic Johnston Muthama who cherished calling people names at the expense of seeking votes. So while Team Uhuruto traversed the country talking of how they would co-operate with the ICC and unite the country, Raila, Kalonzo and Moses Wetangula personalized the race and were busy reminding people of how disastrous it would be for the country’s image to elect suspects and thieves – certainly not a good way to endear yourself to the undecided voters.
Uhuru Kenyatta may then be said to have concluded that in order to get to state house, he had to have the backing of tribal numbers, registered voters to be precise in majority of counties. With this in mind, he hit the road running, making forays into every corner of the country promising people milk and honey, from the primary school children to the elders while Raila chose and spent unprecedented time promising implementation of the constitution (which has a self trigger mechanism), reform and democracy, change in government (while they are still in government and doing nothing) topped up with vice president Kalonzo Musyoka a very untrustworthy fellow. So while Raila pulled all stops to win over the Kalenjin vote, including asking them to forgiveness them if he had offended, it all landed on deaf ears. The Mau debacle is also said to have contributed to the mistrust that a section of the Kalenjin nation harbour for Jakom. We agree that Mau had to be saved, and those on the ground can attest to the fact that the reforestation has helped in some ways. But seeing the women in the cold, children and the elderly forsaken and dying and Jakom chest-thumping that he was ready to sacrifice his presidential ambition may have remained embedded in the thoughts of those voters.
Some have said that it was Kibaki who set up Raila for the mess that became Mau after the small time farmers were kicked out but Moi’s Kiptagich Tea Farm left standing – to date. What Raila may have not known is that those few farmers had more votes than Moi and they read this act as a class war. Ruto, Linah Jebii Kilimo, Frankline Bett took this as an opportune moment to sow the seed of discord between Raila and the small-scale farmers. Although Bett was later bribed with a cabinet position and Dr. Sally apologized to Jakom for calling the national flag on her government limousine a kitambaa, the relationship between Raila and the Kalenjin nation was never to be the same again. Raila never bothered to do a damage control. The last-minute action to get the endorsement of Joshua Arap Sang who is in the dock at the ICC appears not to have had any impact if the votes cast for Uhuru are to be considered.
Most skeptics never believed that the CORD-Raila “nyeupe kama pamba” behemoth would be eclipsed by the Uhuruto house of cards and consequently never looked at TNA’s candidate more than once on the ballot paper. But they were wrong. In the end (or rather until the legal hurdle is cleared) it is likely that the unheeded tyranny of numbers alluded to by political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi may after all have been true. A president of the republic of Kenya must be elected by the whole country, but as we do not live in a perfect country, sometimes tribal arithmetic makes all the difference. Ruto turned out to be the kingmaker who was to determine who replaced Emilio Mwai Kibaki. Uhuru won because he managed to convince Ruto who in turn convinced majority of the Kalenjin nation to vote for the Jubilee Coalition and Raila lost because his talks with Ruto collapsed. Had Raila been able to mend fences with Ruto in time, he wouldn’t be laying his fate in the hands of justices Dr. Willy Mutunga, Prof. Jackton Boma Ojwang’, Mohammed Ibrahim, Philip Tonui, Njoki Ndung’u and Dr. Smokin Wanjala at the Supreme Court of Kenya – but would have been preparing to be sworn in as Kenya’s 4th president at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani on 26th March, 2013. Raila’s loss is without doubt manifestly a self-inflicted wound.
My parting shot; to the electoral victors, please be magnanimous in your victory, and to the losers be gracious in defeat. This election was not about Raila or Uhuru only, it was not about Luos or Kikuyus, but about you and me, the victory was not just for Jubilee supporters, but for all Kenyans and we have an equal share of the national cake irrespective of how we voted. Uhuru must get to work and find the ways and means for fulfilling his campaign promises. Let us therefore join hands to take this country forward and to great heights of prosperity through payment of taxes as we have always done.