The signs are there for those who seek them to find. After August 8, Uhuru Kenyatta will still be President. If history is of any instruction, Raila Amollo Odinga will take to the streets, his followers in tow, but they will be no match to mean looking GSU officers with their armoured personal carriers, littering the streets of Nairobi like ants on an anthill.
Like previous times, opposition politicians will be unrelenting in their clamour for reform; but with government adamant and their eyes gradually opening to a future without their patron, one by one, they will fall off. Their supporters, too, will retreat; without their support, Raila’s bid will grow cold and be extinguished. The legend of Raila will die, the opposition will break into feuding factions, and the possibility of a perpetual uthamaki will become reality!
Beyond Raila and Uhuru, it is the Deputy President and the fabled “Mountain mafia” the people are really afraid of – which as whispered, and indeed if you ask Ocampo, were the catalysts of the 2007 and 2012 fallouts (the latter relating to Uhuru’s apparent failure to honour a pre-election pact with Mudavadi that would make the ANC leader President). There is also the army and the police whose loyalty the Presidency has managed to consolidate by applying acts of political patronage – subtle yet far reaching public relations exercises, epitomised by Uhuru’s penchant for army regalia, defending its (army’s) most indefensible blunders and illegal tokens, including sharing the spoils of a supposed war on Al Shabaab.
Security agencies are also firmly in the Executive’s pocket, risking the ire of international humanitarian agencies, and ready to go any lengths if only to guarantee the status quo. Add that to a campaign war chest – full to the brim with what Kenyans would be forgiven to believe are the benefits years of loot – a heavy investment in artillery and an expert propaganda battalion cleaning up the dirt, the mechanisms of war are set. When the President is crowned, unlike 2007, it won’t be in darkness-covered backstreets of State House; rather it will be with grandiose splendour, legitimised by a significantly accepting nation, an opposition intimidated into silence and an indifferent international community.
‘No civil war’
As in 1992, 2007 even 2013, opposition supporters will be incensed. But their anger (and their numbers) will never be enough to stop the Uhuru juggernaut, and for three reasons as some pundits have outlined – two have already been highlighted above. Principally, the Presidency has managed to lock down, historically, the chief protagonists in Kenya’s post election wars, the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu, in the matrimony of Jubilee.
After a combined 49 years of hegemony spent filling public offices with tribesmen and taking over the public sector-investment funded largely by public resources, the Kalenjin dominate the army while the Agikuyu oversee the cash. United, no opposition force can match them, not in numbers, not in guile, not in resources. And history provides a clear demonstration. The Kikuyu and the Kalenjin posed the biggest armed threat to successive colonial governments, which aggression was carried into independent Kenya. Colonial land policy and a bungled re-distribution of recovered crown land by the Kenyatta government resulted into a massive influx of the former into Kalenjin lands – and this has always been a cause of strife between the two whenever elections call and tribal tensions rise – each feeling disenfranchised of their right to land ownership.
The Luhya, Luo, Mijikenda, Maasai and all else, having largely retained possession of their ancestral lands, had had little reason to fight. Suffering the most from of Jomo Kenyatta’s misguided reallocation, it is the Kikuyu’s property rights that are most threatened, more so by the Kalenjin in whose Central and lower Rift they mostly ended up. United under Jubilee, this won’t be a cause of strife. But most importantly, if misguided opposition elements would repeat the humanitarian error of 2007-2008 and decide to draw war-favouring regime sympathisers out in a protracted war, and if Kenya’s food baskets and water towers in central and the rift were to become no-go zones as a result, it is “the rest” of Kenya, opposition strongholds that would suffer the most.
Away from the propaganda, history shows Raila himself to be really a gentle character. He mentors wannabe politicians from the dust who, as Hushai the son of Gera did to King David, fly away to other stables from where they take on insulting him, and when things go south, run back to him. Often, he embraces them like nothing ever happened. It is the same compromising attitude that carried him through the Nyayo “error”, allowed him to remain relevant as fellow had-been inmates faded away – even work with his oppressors afterwards when the likes of Koigi wa Wamwere and Willy Mutunga totally detached themselves from the Moi regime.
Twice, he even walked away from a presidency that had been served out for him (apparently) when he could have taken the African favoured route of the “streets, winner takes all.” Unfortunately, even as a strength, it is also a major weakness, one you wouldn’t associate with one William Samoei Ruto. The Deputy President has shown himself to be uncompromising, no less demonstrated by his alleged urging of Raila, in 2008, to avoid Serena until Kibaki stepped down. Such strength has, over the years, proven a game changer when the history of regime change in Africa is interrogated.
When the chickens come home
Then there is the small matter of Kanu. Surely by now Ruto must appreciate that he won’t be the Jubilee candidate for president in 2022. A political storm has been brewing in the Rift for some time now, local politicians relating it to his supposed arrogant and patronising demeanour (some locals even say the Deputy President has hogged every tender opportunity in his home county). Perhaps true, only that these wrongs are hyperbolised by a cabal keen to mudsling him and introduce the perfect alternative in Gideon Moi as the new king of the rift.
In honour of a historical promise, Gideon Moi will be Uhuru’s preferred candidate for president come 2022 with, in all probability, Muhoho Kenyatta as the vice. Muhoho will then take over with the support of a Moi. Whether the rest of the mountain mafia favours this course remains to be seen; after all there have been whispers of a Gideon/Peter Kenneth ticket. Yet, what is true is that, those who favour this route only gamble on Moi’s goodwill even as they pursue it without Kenyatta’s blessings. Really it could be too soon for the president’s son but that shouldn’t erode the possibility of another “Kenyatta” President
For now, most of these truths only exist as State House grapevine, with a few hints in the occasional slip of the tongue synonymous with, Kabogo, Moses Kuria and Paul Njoroge. Yet, make no mistake about it; it is highly unlikely that Ruto will ever president, at least not through the benefit of a fair ballot. It seems all too clear now, the powerbrokers have already made their choice; they are only bidding their time before they declare it in principle.
Orphaning of opposition regions
The most painful reality of the August 8 polls yet has to be the retirement of “Baba” and the political orphanage of not only Nyanza but also many other regions. After all, it Raila who has often been at the forefront in condemning, for whatever reason, government excesses and for the benefit of Wanjiku. Granted, Ruto will fall into the opposition waging such a war against the systems of the day that Raila will look like child’s play. But reeking of scandal and having made enemies on both sides, he will never reach the enigmatic heights of Raila.
So hated yet so loved, nevertheless respected by everyone, it will be long before a man of Raila’s mould descends these shores. And considering that part of his mystique draws from an artificial problem Kikuyu political patriarchs created, we may never see such a man altogether.