To succeed self or not, that’s a question for Uhuru

Raila covets an alliance with Uhuru’s breakaway Jubilee faction.

In Summary

• ODM is blindsided that it will acquire the post by playing cordiality with Uhuru.

• But that there is going to be a rapture between Uhuru and Raila over the premier position before the turbulent wave of BBI subsides therefore needs no belabouring.

Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event.
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event.
Image: PSCU

Whenever Putin switched office, he went with executive powers. That is, power went to the office Putin occupied.

The trick has worked for 20 years in power. This is not dissimilar to what the Uhuru-for-premier yoyo-men are plotting in the orbit of BBI II.

Problem is that Raila too wants not just an office like Medvedev, but power itself like Putin too.

That is where the rub between the two men is or will soon be felt via a fallout. And it won’t be passive one because each has invested too much in the BBI to let go easily.

The power shuffle by the duo explains the extraordinary attempt to have a BBI II and the inordinate delay in gazetting its TOR, plus the decision of ODM to unleash a public campaign to force the President’s hand in changing BBI I report in favour of an executive premier through a referendum.

ODM is blindsided that it will acquire the post by playing cordiality with Uhuru.

There are even insinuations of an alliance in the making. But that there is going to be a rapture between Uhuru and Raila over the premier position before the turbulent wave of BBI subsides therefore needs no belabouring.

When the BBI team made a report that strengthened the Presidency, they might have carelessly assumed they were tailoring it to suit Raila’s supposed assumption of office after Uhuru, since the latter wouldn’t run again courtesy of a constitutional barrier.

In any case, didn’t the two announce the handshake was about ending historical blood feuds? Why wouldn’t Uhuru reciprocate the favour the Odingas have done for the Kenyattas and Kikuyu community for decades?

But four failures to grab the presidency through a popular vote and still counting, it has occurred to Raila that only the premiership may be his destiny. He must avoid universal suffrage like a plague.

A recalcitrant Ruto and surging public favourite Musalia Mudavadi has convinced him, that he may face the fifth humiliating defeat for president no matter any new alliance of convenience he may cobble up.

The obvious alternative is to be an executive premier without facing a popular vote. And therefore, he must covet Uhuru to his side. But will Uhuru play ball?

Indeed, Raila covets an alliance with Uhuru’s breakaway Jubilee faction and that’s why he has strategically lined up ODM national elections, deliberately staggered, to coincide with Jubilee’s early next year.

He wants to reap from the Jubilee fallout. Which is easier said than done given the stringent half-century demonizing of the Odingas in Mt Kenya.

Furthermore, Ruto is seeing the smoke for the fire; he has sought to pre-empt both men by playing pliant with his statement in Nyeri that Uhuru will cede power – the tenor of his statement obviously indicating abdication in his favour.

After all, didn’t Uhuru abdicate his Leader of Opposition office to stake his bet with Mwai Kibaki in 2007?

However, trial balloons, suggestions, innuendos, rumour, propaganda and denial are the menu that the chef ordered for prolonging a leader’s stay in power this side of the world.

When this process is unleashed, it begins like a bad joke. The incumbent president is usually reticent, acknowledging the debate but with pretended indifference to it.

Uhuru is playing the ideal marker in the script by feigning a tiresome job he would sooner abdicate yet hinting he wouldn’t mind a go at the reversed position of premier.

Only Kenya and Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa will have an executive premier should Raila’s antics succeed. But I doubt it will happen in Kenya, in a region lately in love with imperial presidencies. And this is why;

As to the coveted position of premier the referee they insultingly abuse in citing, is the mild Tanzania Model where John Magufuli is head of state and government, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

His appointee, Kassim Majaliwa, is his Prime Minister who is the leader of government business in the National Assembly in name only. BBI I proposed premier office sounds a copycat of Majaliwa’s who is subordinated to the President. Article 52 of the Constitution of Tanzania determines the Prime Minister shall;

“Have authority over the control, supervision and execution of the day-to-day functions and affairs of the Government of the United Republic; and be the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly”. However, there is a sharp decline of power when “In the exercise of his authority, shall perform or cause to be performed any matter or matters which the President directs to be done”. Magufuli is the boss.

But the Tanzania model in BBI I is a deception; BBI II sponsors admire the absolute power enjoyed by victual monarchs operating under guise of republican presidents in Africa.

I doubt that the prototype is going to change in Kenya. Uhuru may just choose to go with the BBI I proposals knowing an alliance with a transitional but pliable proxy like Medvedev for a president, will hand him back the imperial presidency later on.

Ruto seems to be smelling the rat. And Kenya does not have to invent the wheel because a plethora of wash-and-wear outfits to pick from already exist;

President Uhuru’s best friend is apparently Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon since October 2009 after succeeding his father Omar Bongo, who ruled for 41 years (from 1967 until his death in 2009).

Bongo Junior was first elected in the August 2009 presidential election. His re-election in August 2016 was marred by irregularities, arrests, human rights violations and post-election violence.

Almost a replica of Uhuru ascension to power in 2013 and 2017 elections. Ondimba heads a dynasty with a shoe-in Prime Minister - Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet – who no one cares to remember exists.

Next door is the basket case of Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi (2005–present) whose dominion is the head of state and government, and commander-in-chief of the National Defence Force.

His powers are daunting under the 2005 disputed Constitution; his stated role is ensuring Burundi's national unity; laws and functions of the state are created and executed in full compliance with the constitution. However, the constitution is himself;

Nkurunziza is granted executive and legislative powers throughout the constitution. He has the power to appoint military commanders, ambassadors, magistrates, provincial governors and members of various national councils.

Nkurunziza also appoints all judges, including those of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court.

In addition to promulgating legislation, the Nkurunziza has the power to propose and amend laws, and vetoes laws from Parliament. He can amend the constitution. Though a two-term presidential term is seven years, the controversial 2018 Burundian constitutional referendum gave Nkurunzinza unlimited terms.

If Burundi is a basket case, Rwanda presents an interesting case of a benevolent monocracy.

That benevolence comes with a price; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda (2000–present) was re-elected in August 2017 with an official result of nearly 99% in an election criticized for many irregularities.

He had won an election in 2003, under a new constitution adopted that year. He was elected for a second term in 2010 and again in 2017. Due to yet another change in the constitution, he could remain President until 2034. He is seen as the "most impressive" yet "among the most repressive" African leaders. Not many know there is Prime Minister, Édouard Ngirente. Rwanda is Kagame.

Ditto Uganda. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda (1986–present) had presidential term limits removed in 2005; and in 2017 removed of the previous upper age limit of 75 years.

He has unfettered reign of his kingdom supplemented by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda among other functionaries of the bush war. The common denominator among this pick-and carry regimes is the president is the State, and government is an assist.

Kenyans must be guarded and vigilant about this BBI revision. There is a lot going on for it under the table.

That happy-go-lucky bonhomie Uhuru persona may hide a lot of trickery. Cambridge Analytica says it and Musalia narrates the same hoax encounter with Uhuru’s charm in his Soaring Above the Storms of Passion autobiography.

Uhuru isn’t to be taken for granted as Ruto, a partner in crime against Musalia, has come to rue their void Putin-Medvedev look-a-like succession plan. Whichever way you look at it, we are about to ape any of these off-grid countries, with tragic consequences for a budding democracy.