By Kibe Mungai
I was not yet born in December 1969 when Kenya held its second general election, but reading Odinge Odera’s wonderful biography My Journey with Jaramogi, it is not easy to shake off the feeling that the August General Election is 1969 Mark II. The fall-out between Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga, coupled with the assassination of Tom Mboya in July 1969, as well as the proscription of Odinga KPU in October the same year were the explosive mix that defined the count-down to the 1969 election that, for better or worse, transformed the character of the Kenyan State and its politics.
The high-stakes politics of 1966-1969 between Kenyatta and Odinga resulted into the political banishment of the latter into an oblivion so debilitating that even the return of multipartysm in 1992 could not rescue him. Paradoxically the August 8 General Election, which Raila Odinga has christened Nane Nane Revolution, is ominously shaping up as a grand rematch between Jomo and Jaramogi’s sons of the 1969 General Election that never was, given that KPU was banned and Jaramogi detained before the Election Day. Unlike in 1969 and largely because of the 2010 Constitution and Raila’s charismatic leadership of Nasa political brigade and its fervent supporters, there is no underdog in this election in three major respects.
First, whereas Uhuru is the incumbent the reality of devolution is that ODM’s control of at least 20 county governments has considerably blunted the advantages of incumbency this year. Second, Raila certainly packs a heavier political punch than Uhuru, which is precisely why last year he single-handedly forced the disbandment and reconstitution of IEBC and, this year, successfully intimidated the Court of Appeal into uphold the High Court judgment that strips the Commission of altering constituency level results. Third, on account of the separation of powers and bifurcation of political authority under the Constitution, the Kenyan state is susceptible to neo-fascist attacks.
Simply stated, it is a serious understatement to say that this year’s presidential race will be a high-stakes contest between the sons of Jomo and Jaramogi. The stakes are existential in nature and they revolve around three issues. One, the future of the Second Republic established by the 2010 Constitution is at stake. Two, the survival of a democratic society free from intimidation and blackmail is at stake. Three, the survival of a country with equal citizenship rights whose people are free to live and own property anywhere within its shores is at stake. Given these high stakes, here are my reasons why the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta is vital to the preservation of Kenya’s Second Republic, a free society and a prosperous market economy.
Uhuru’s e-election will secure the Constitution and the Second Republic
After the promulgation of the new Constitution Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, then Minister for Medical Services, celebrated the establishment of the Second Republic with these memorable words:
“The president will no longer be that feared monster whose edicts Kenyans loathed to listen to at one o’clock, sacking people left right and centre and promoting incompetent cronies. There is no doubt that the checks and balances that we always wanted in government are enshrined in this constitution ushering in the Second Republic. Kenya is now home to a fundamental law of the land where individual as well as people’s rights are respected and promoted by the Bills of Rights… The Constitution of the Second Republic is not of the same hue as the independence constitution.”
Anyone who agrees with Nyong’o should be afraid about Nasa’s vow to radically change it to reintroduce the hybrid system of the First Republic. For the record, President Uhuru campaigned for the 2010 Constitution but his deputy William Ruto opposed it. However, to the credit of the Jubilee Government, during its first term it has implemented the 2010 Constitution and refrained from advocating constitutional changes. In fact, Jubilee has not expressed desire to do so in case it secures re-election. On the contrary, the Nasa manifesto commits its government to push for radical reforms in order, inter-alia, to create the phantom positions promised to some of its co-principals.
In my book, the present generations of Kenyans have no moral authority to keep tinkering with the Constitution to satisfy their whims. In all honesty, we must do our utmost best to make it work otherwise the Second Republic is bound to abort. On this score, Uhuru’s re-election will be a boon to the Second Republic.
The contest is between a Devil we know and and an unscrupulous Devil
In Kenya’s short history, unscrupulousness has often passed off as real politics, thereby negating the ethical and principled leadership envisaged under Article 10 of the Constitution. In real terms, leaders must mean what they say and do what they say. This is not the case when it comes to Raila. Six years ago Raila wrote in the Kenya Affairs issue of May/June 2011 thus…
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