IMMINENT BETRAYAL

Raila, Ruto must unite before 2022 or hang separately

As long as the system keeps them fighting each other, there will be plots to betray both of them and they won’t be of much help to each othee.

In Summary

• Unlike their competitors for the throne, the two have a history of connecting with their supporters in the remotest parts of the country, and cover thousands of miles on the campaign trail.

• They also carry with them a cult status that opponents find very difficult to match. 

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leadedr Raila Odinga.
OLD FRIENDS: Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leadedr Raila Odinga.
Image: TWITTER

I am a conspiracy theorist. On a cool clear night, you are more likely to find me quietly looking into the sky, checking if I can spot any flying saucers, alien activity and UFOs in general. I am suspicious of quiet nights.

When dogs are not barking and I can’t hear the odd owl and other nocturnal animals in the dead of night, the peace tends to feel a little too surreal.

This is why some of my favourite TV shows include Ancient Aliens, Chasing UFOs and the believe-it-or-not variety of series. For me, there is always something behind the visible. I view politics the same way.

When things begin to fall in place too easily, there is always that feeling that something is not quite right.

Like many pessimistic pundits in recent times, I have wondered why President Uhuru Kenyatta’s side of the BBI project has suddenly come out, full of energy and mobilising county assemblies in the Mt Kenya region to pass the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020.

Well, there are the obvious advantages that the BBI document gives the region, but for two years, Uhuru and his base have appeared as though they couldn’t care less how BBI ended.

Indeed, ODM boss Raila Odinga’s solo carriage of the process on his indefatigable shoulders gave the impression that it was to his benefit that the project needed to succeed.

It is, therefore, not entirely inconceivable to ask what is in it for Uhuru, who has now committed so much energy and resources to see it through. But let’s backtrack a little.

Ever since the handshake happened three years ago, the consensus has been that it has given the President stability and peace to run the nation.

Politicians from the Kieleweke wing of the Jubilee Party like to point out at rallies that the President has enjoyed so much peace that he has grown a tummy commensurate with it.

In those three years, whenever the President has needed the help of the ODM chief in the National Assembly, the Senate or the county assemblies, Raila has come through by calling his troops to order in doing Uhuru’s bidding.

Some of these have been over relatively unpopular bills in Raila’s fan club, like the Revenue Allocation Bill, whose passage placed him in a tight spot with his more marginalised support bases.

More straightforward partnerships with Uhuru’s side happened during the impeachment proceedings against governors Ferdinand Waititu and Mike Sonko, and the passage of the BBI Bills in the county assemblies.

In all these, Raila has placed his reputation and support on the line to bail out the President. It is the reverse that should worry ODM strategists.

In recent by-elections, for instance, even where Jubilee has declared support for the ODM candidate as in Msambweni, Uhuru’s side hasn’t done enough to actually support their partners.

I doubt if the photo-op the President had with the ODM’s Msambweni candidate, Omar Boga, which appeared squeezed in by Governor Hassan Joho, can count as enough.

Jubilee played lip service to their partners and left them to their own devices, which is not what Raila would do if roles were reversed. But if Msambweni was a lesson on the one-sided nature of the handshake, last week’s by-elections were an eye-opener.

Take just two cases — the ward by-election in London ward, Nakuru county, and in Matungu constituency, Kakamega. In London, state security was deployed in full force to limit the influence of the Tangatanga faction, and apparently to help the Jubilee candidate.

I am not saying that this should also have happened in Matungu in support of ODM but when two of their greatest competitors appeared to antagonise IEBC officials conducting the elections, security seemed helpless to do anything about it.

A video of goons dragging a female electoral official while vowing to do unprintable things to her was truly disturbing.

Any conspiracy theorist should have read the underlying message from police inaction in this.

Indeed, the Tangatanga agent caught on camera slapping a male IEBC official was hunted down and arrested, but the people responsible for the blatant violation of the female official have not been arrested.

It is immediately after Matungu that certain ODM insiders raised the alarm over an alleged plot to betray Raila and prop up someone else as the regime candidate for president in 2022.

Siaya Senator James Orengo is probably the smartest politician in ODM, and one of those who have come so far with Raila, from their days in the Second Liberation trenches. Oburu Oginga is Raila’s elder brother. The two wouldn’t speak out of turn. By the time they spoke, it was obvious there was trouble in paradise.

It used to be taken for granted that the political betrayal of Raila and Deputy President William Ruto in one election cycle was impossible. But if indeed it has been considered in high places, then it may be time for Raila and Ruto to bury their differences, work together and end this culture once and for all.

Raila and Ruto are simply the most energetic, most hard-working campaigners in this whole land.

Unlike their competitors for the throne, the two have a history of connecting with their supporters in the remotest parts of the country and covering thousands of miles on the campaign trail.

They also carry with them a cult status that opponents find very difficult to match.

A casual glance at our electoral history shows Raila performs better in an election when he carries the betrayal tag into it.

It helps spur anger and desire for revenge in his core base, which is a direct catalyst to voter turnout. A betrayal now may not be such a bad thing after all.

 Besides, as with Ruto, the collapse of the BBI process at this juncture wouldn’t hurt either of them. I don’t think either of them is averse to rising to the presidency under the current constitutional framework.

What should worry them is that for as long as the system keeps them fighting each other, there will be plots to betray both of them and they won’t be of much help to each other, except as comrades in the election petition they will most likely present at the Supreme Court if they don’t unite now.

It may interest both that so far, the President and his surrogates do not appear interested in mainstreaming the issues of electoral injustices that have made our past elections a complete farce, and which appeared in play in Matungu constituency and London ward.

To put it bluntly, Raila and Ruto must work together or be hanged separately!

Political analyst and commentator