Still young enough for politics

Nobody has political capital like Raila does. It is why, I think, Raila has decided to take on electoral injustices

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By Nkwazi Mhango

When former AG Amos Wako, who also is the Senator for Busia, said that Raila Odinga still has the chance to become the next president of Kenya, I was pushed to write this piece. First of all, I fully concur with Wako.

Secondly, the impromptu marriage, ala handshake, between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga added more vim. I am one of many who wanted the duo to talk in order to pull Kenya out of the impasse resulting from last year’s elections. Now that they’re working together, we need to support them.

Raila must soldier on in seeking presidency. He won’t be the first to do so. He must ignore those who say he is too old to become president. Next year, current Zimbabwe’s president, Emerson Mnangagwa will be 76, and will still likely run again. Former presidents such as Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Abdulaye Wade (Senegal), Ronald Reagan (US) Jose Mujica (Uruguay) Michael Sata (Zambia), Bingu wa Mutharika (Malawi), Muhammad Buhari (Nigeria-incumbent) Peter Mutharika (Malawi-incumbent), Hage Gottfried Geingob (Namibia-incumbent) and Beji Caid Essebsi (Tunisia-incumbent) among others, became presidents in their 70s.

Apart from being strong and fit, Raila has the agenda. Practically speaking, there is no politician currently in Kenya that can stand alone and defeat Raila. Let us face it, who, among potential runners for the presidency, has any political mileage and wand like Raila? Nobody has political capital like he does. It is why, I think, Raila has decided to take on electoral injustices. If this is attained, even if he doesn’t run and/or win, his work is done.

The question of who will run depends on the realpolitik of the time around 2022. Rumours have it that Gideon Moi intends to run. If he does, this will put Kenyatta at a crossroad – does he abandon the son of his mentor and back the guy he united with for convenience? If Kenyatta revisits the history of UhuRuto marriage of convenience, chances of backing Moi are high. While many think that Ruto helped Kenyatta to become president, they forget Moi Sr’s role in grooming and launching him.

Now that there is no ICC pending cases against the duo, is there anything that binds them together? Who knew that Mwai Kibaki would refuse to say Raila ‘tosha’ as a quid pro quo for Raila’s support in 2002? Further, who knew that Kenyatta would defeat Raila in 2013, mitigating factors notwithstanding? Who knows how Jubilee government is going to deliver after defaulting on many of its promises?

In any event, who knows the needs of the voters in 2022? (

— Mhango is a Canada-based author, and a Peace and Conflict Scholar

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