Monday, 11 February 2013

Politics Most Foul

For all of its denials, it was an open secret that State House was secretly propping up Musalia Mudavadi to succeed President Kibaki. The word on the street was that Musalia was as a ‘compromise candidate’ for the Gema community. Despite Uhuru Kenyatta having what seemed like good prospects of succeeding President Kibaki, his indictment at the ICC with crimes against humanity was for all intents and purposes an insuperable millstone around Uhuru neck. Apparently, the level headed State House operatives had long since come to grips with Uhuru’s predicament at The Hague and they were intent on handing over the reins of power to an acquiescent moderate that is Musalia and the Gema community understood it thus.

Everything seemed to have fallen in place when Musalia, who had earlier been cajoled to ditch Raila’s ODM party, signed a pact with Uhuru and William Ruto in which Uhuru agreed to step down for him as their coalition’s presidential candidate. And then, out of the blue, Uhuru pulled a fast one on Mudavadi and backtracked on his promise citing manipulation by ‘dark forces.’ Poor Mudavadi was short-changed and in effect consigned to the political junkyard where he fittingly belongs depending of course on which side of the political divide you look at it from. The operatives behind project Mudavadi were none the wiser even though they were left with egg on their faces. With the benefit of hindsight, it was a total escapade.

Besides proving that he is a very cunning politician, Uhuru’s move proved that he is determined to control his destiny and he will not allow his fate to be in the hands of somebody else. It is a cold fact, but Uhuru does not have a vision for Kenya; he is a man with a mission that is inspired by an instinct for self-preservation. Uhuru knows that the only way to dodge The Hague is by becoming Kenya’s fourth president. The idea however, is not far-fetched if President Bashir of Sudan is anything to go by. The only problem is that Kenya is not, by any stretch of the imagination, Sudan. Be that as it may, his implausible coalition with William Ruto – the kingpin of an arch-rival community but a man nevertheless with whom he shares that dreadful ICC predicament is a plot to make good his escape from the ICC.

Surprisingly, the unlikely Uhuru-Ruto presidential bid has turned out to be a formidable political reality which, no matter way you look at it, has turned our upcoming presidential election into a referendum on the ICC. Electoral politics is the court of public opinion and Uhuru and Ruto reckon that a win in the court of public opinion will somehow the discredit the prosecution, quash their indictment, and vindicate them at the ICC. Call it self-delusion, clutching at straws, or whatever you like but that is the duo’s game plan against the ICC regardless and they have said as much at sundry times.

Most observers agree that should the Jubilee luminaries clinch the victory in the presidential contest, Kenya will be plunged into a catastrophic constitutional crisis right from the day they are declared winners. You can be rest assured that Uhuru and Ruto will not co-operate with the ICC much less board a flight to attend the hearings against them. Think about it, if the ICC is not receiving all the cooperation it needs from President Kibaki’s administration, what should you honestly expect if the suspects ascend to power? Be that as it may, I am extremely doubtful that Kenyans will stand idly by and let fugitives from justice govern Kenya in peace.

One, however, cannot help but wonder how on earth two people indicted with crimes against humanity –the most heinous crimes known to man – could be presidential candidates and be sufficiently popular to be strong contenders. It is utterly bizarre when you take into account the fact that the electoral policy, legal, and regulatory framework in Kenya’s new constitutional dispensation was supposed to have been improved significantly. To be sure, the constitutionality of the Uhuru-Ruto presidential bid remains contentious, but to have the suspects a heartbeat away from State House is incontrovertible proof that the rotten character of our politics has not changed.

At the heart of the problem is what the acclaimed political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi recently alluded to in his controversial ‘tyranny of numbers’ analysis of the upcoming election. Uhuru and Ruto descend from the populous Gema and Kalenjin ethnic communities respectively and because we vote for leaders based on their tribe as opposed to the content of their character, we have ended up a political system that could very well witness people suspected of crimes against humanity elected to office. The Gema and Kalenjin communities from which Uhuru and Ruto descend from had however initially warmed up to the idea of Musalia Mudavadi as a ‘compromise candidate.’ He was considered a ‘compromise candidate’ based on the fact that many people from the Mount Kenya region had a very low opinion of Uhuru Kenyatta and considered the candidature a man indicted at the ICC with crimes against humanity unacceptable as it would be detrimental to the nation. Unfortunately for them, Uhuru outwitted Mudavadi and as such, as they like to say, they were left with no choice.

As everyone will agree, this madness by the people from the Mount Kenya region and the Rift Valley is tribalism in its vilest form and represents everything that is wrong with Kenyan politics. Personally, I do not how else we can effectively deal with this ominous problem; however, I do know that by exposing it for what it really is, I am making it a matter of individual conscience and I expect every Kenyan of goodwill and especially those from the Mount Kenya region and the Rift Valley to take a pause and have some serious soul-searching before deciding who to vote for in the upcoming election.

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