By NLM Writer
No one can deny Right Honourable Raila Odinga is an enigma in Kenyan politics. He has made a political journey like no other politician has. Those who love him understand his sacrifice and passion; those who hate him loathe those very same principles. If there is a scale to measure sacrifice and commitment to good governance, he sits right at the top. Yet, even for enigmas, the sands of time do run out. And, as is with human life, the hourglass can never be inverted for anybody. He is an excellent statesman, but his sands in active politics are at an end.
A story is told of a man who drove himself into a concrete boulder along the road to Maai Mahiu. He wasn’t badly hurt, as his car took the brunt of the impact. When he got out, he rushed towards horrified bystanders while patting himself frantically and asking them if they thought he was okay. He got hold of one and begged him to tell him, honestly, if his face and body weren’t badly mangled. It took some time to calm him down and when they did, he confessed that as he watched his bonnet crumple up, he imagined the same happening to his face, hence his reaction. Those not emotionally invested in our politics will see the similarity between this tale and the recent court ruling on the validity of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.
Chief Justice David Maraga’s Supreme Court, on November 20, dealt a mortal blow to Raila’s ambitions of legitimately leading Kenya as its president. Coming in the backdrop of its September 1 ruling that nullified the August 8 General Election, the court’s decision was an affirmation of the edict that justice is indeed blind.
Uhuru Kenyatta is President of the republic of Kenya. With this statement comes the realisation that there is a legitimately elected government, on whose shoulders now falls the arduous task of recalibrating our economic fortunes and providing requisite political leadership. Understandably, it also elicits passions in some quarters, but that is the nature of competitive politics.
The President’s inauguration for a second term last month put an end to any imaginations and claims to power by his opponents, and now sets him on the course towards securing his legacy. The President understands there are deep divisions, and has promised to heal the country by forging inclusivity and being a president for everyone. It is a political statement, and those are not the frankest, but he is just getting started; let’s cut him some slack. Uhuru is working to create his legacy – one that should be firmly secure for the reasons outlined below.
The President is a gentleman. His has reacted to the antagonism by his political rivals with a cool head. He has invited the former Premier for dialogue. He has expressed his interest to end constant politicking to embark on nation building. He has had his victory nullified and went on to win again, proving to all and sundry that he is the people’s choice. On this count alone, he puts to rest any doubts anyone may have had in regard to his respect for the rule of law. He lives and abides by it. That’s one.
Two, it is in the nature of people to move of from generally unpleasant events to seek better ones. The future holds promise. With Uhuru as president, the uncertainty that had come over the country like a dark cloak is lifted. Kenyans understand they cannot politick forever. At this point, life must inevitably go on, which means embracing the post-elective period, to take stock and regroup. It is profoundly sorrowful that lives have been lost, and that should not continue. None feels this pain more than those who have lost their loved ones. This sad phase of our governance cycle must come to an end. Wittingly, those whose recklessness is responsible for causing these extravagant deaths must be held responsible to provide closure. The President must make this an early order of business.
Three, the economy has to recover and grow. The best way to initiate this growth is by, first and foremost, having a legitimate government in place. This we now do. The President’s economic agenda is clear and on course. Investors who had gone on vacation are trickling back. Businesses everywhere are reopening. For example, the real estate freeze that had permeated the capital is thawing. The CBK last month maintained its base lending rate, an indicator of its confidence in the economy and its capacity to tame inflation. Our economy has stagnated for the better part of the year, because that is what elections do. But it’s resilient enough to withstand prolonged shocks such as those we have experienced.
Nasa’s call for an economic boycott of some products was only as effective as it was novel. It is now dawning on the coalition and its supporters that the boycott cannot be sustained. Safaricom, for example, is too entrenched in the lives of ordinary Kenyans for Kenyans to detach themselves from it. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it is the truth. In any event, many of those being asked to boycott it are shareholders in the company. For many others, life must continue without them having to worry about what to leave and what to hold on to. However, what really spoils it for Nasa is that its support base, just like that of Jubilee, is too variegated to rally behind such a call. While the coalition enjoys immense support, the economic strata of its supporters are rooted in some of the products they are being asked to leave. It only remains to been how long this call can be sustained before it fizzles out and forgotten about altogether.
Four, Uhuru knows this is his only chance to leave a lasting impact. His victory at the ballot and the court presents him with a real chance to rise above his party and support bases to unify the country. To do this, he must, however, think like an opposition supporter and work his way from there. There are already indications that he is shedding his baggage by letting go some of his top ministers – also allies – as he works to streamline his administration. His objective now is to demonstrate to all Kenyans, supporters and critics alike, that they made the right call in voting for him, and that his actions from this point on must earnestly prove that stand.
Five, legality, in regard to the court’s affirmation of Uhuru’s win, is legitimacy. Legality has to do with actions as anchored in existing laws. The President has not acted in any way as to infringe upon common and statutory law. The institution that has been responsible for the holding of the elections, IEBC, has not either, and the court affirmed this. Some of the actions of the police could constitute illegalities, but they have no direct bearing on the person of the president, or the presidency. And because his actions have been grounded in legality, it follows that the President is legitimately in power, and has the mandate to execute the functions of his office as they are anticipated in law. In line with the court’s decision, there is no logic that could possibly illegitimise Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency.
As we so often like to put it, the ball is now in his Court. He will not disappoint, cannot disappoint, must not disappoint. ^