2022 TRICK-TAKING GAME

Taming the Shrew: How to stop DP on his tracks

In Summary

• The electoral loss in Ugenya, Embakasi South and the lame duck ODM withdrawal from the Wajir West by-election are all attributable to DP's machinations

• If you really want to take on the DP, it would be better to change tact.

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in Kisumu on December 13, 2018
Raila verses Ruto Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in Kisumu on December 13, 2018
Image: COURTESY

Deputy President William Ruto has run roughshod over ODM in the last few weeks and is now within a clear shot of destroying the party completely.

The electoral loss in Ugenya, Embakasi South and the lame duck ODM withdrawal from the Wajir West by-election, all attributable to DP's machinations, have betrayed tactlessness on the part of the Orange party.

The sum total of their offensive against the DP has made for a huge disaster on their path and you can be certain that future by-elections would be open ground to further weaken ODM.

 

As usual, if ODM can do something wrong, they will always do it very well. You would ordinarily expect that Kenya’s largest parliamentary opposition party and a veteran of several general elections should by now have learnt a few points about local realpolitik. But they remain as tactless as ever.

RIDING THE WIND

Sir Winston Churchill said the kite rises against the wind, not with it.

When the ODM intensified their war against the DP, they had hoped to create the necessary wind-force to blow away his political ambitions ahead of 2022. They laid all manner of accusations against him, even naming him as the ‘high priest of corruption’.

But in a country where graft is a national religion, and that 98 per cent of Kenyans will willingly participate in a corrupt act if they had a chance to, ODM was only preaching to converted. Unbeknown to them, they had created the wind over which the DP would use to soar above into the skies.

It is still not clear what exactly ODM expected to achieve by singling out the DP in the Jubilee household. Perhaps they expected that in the process, they would improve their own political fortunes by causing Ruto’s political ambitions to flounder.

So strong was this corruption narrative that in the Ugenya and Embakasi South by-elections, ODM’s lieutenants were confident that the DP’s name was so bad that only a fool would vote for a candidate associated with him. They said a vote for the non-ODM candidate would be a vote for the kleptocratic DP Ruto.

But they should have learnt from the situation of the hated or unwanted suitor. The more you tell a girl that the man she is dating is the wrong man for them, the more the girl wants him. How many fathers have tried desperately to entreat their daughters not to get involved with a certain man only to be made grandfathers by the very same men they dreadfully hated?

Understandably, ODM was depending on the age-old political trick of giving a dog a bad name to kill it. Unfortunately, the dog refuses to die and has mercilessly bit ODM, making away with chunks of flesh.

The hand of the DP was unmistakably clear in the Ugenya and Embakasi South by-elections and he also went ahead and ‘poached’ their Wajir West candidate. Seeing the humiliating debacle coming in Wajir West, ODM decided to save face by ‘withdrawing’ from the election citing the ‘spirit of the handshake.’ That explanation fell flat when reports showed Mohamed Elmi.

The ODM candidate, frolicking and exchanging niceties with the DP in full view of the media. It was also instructive that the DP personally received Elmi and not the Jubilee secretary general.

 

STIRRING THE HORNET’S NEST

Speaking at a televised interview, the DP went on the offensive against ODM and their leader, Raila Odinga. By stirring up the hornet’s nest, he was simply provoking the hornets to come out to him.

Nothing gives a man more energy than danger itself. It creates the necessary energy to make him go faster and further. If only the ODM knew that this was the intention of the DP, they would have kept quiet. But they didn’t.

ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna immediately attacked the DP, giving him unwarranted relevance in the political market. Will the Orange party ever learn this does not work?

In the last General Election, they invested so much energy showing us President Uhuru Kenyatta was unfit to rule, yet that did not even dent his personal appeal to the electorate.

ODM will continue attacking the DP, doing the same thing they did against Mwai Kibaki, Uhuru, Moi and others but hoping for a different outcome. Last I checked, this was the definition of madness itself. And this is the same path that David Murathe has also chosen.

Working with ODM luminary James Orengo to fight the DP, he may not know that he is actually building him instead of destroying him. In a televised interview on Wednesday, Murathe continued his offensive using the entire programme, discussing just one man and maintaining the same old narrative. In so saying, he is, like ODM, keeping the DP in the limelight and giving him unwarranted relevance.

He reminded me of the interview that former US under-secretary for State Johny Carson trying to dissuade Kenyans from voting for ICC indictees, the very same Ruto and Uhuru. What happened?

Murathe is only solidifying the DP’s base and also winning for him unmerited sympathy from fence sitters. In fact, he might end up being the DP’s biggest campaigner yet, only that from where he is standing, he doesn’t see it that way. Who will speak to him in a language he can understand? And in fact, the DP might just want to get him angrier and angrier, because he benefits even more from his anger.

UNDERSTANDING DP’S GAME PLAN

Now, anger distorts reality and weakens the perception of the bigger picture. You must remember the saying that it is much easier to catch insects with honey than vinegar.

Let me give free (and unsolicited) advice to the Oranges and the Murathes et al. If you really want to take on the DP, it would be better to change tact.

Honey makes much more sense than vinegar. Remove the anger, and that way you will perceive reality even better. The DP thrives in four areas — political networking for which he generously uses funds to create (whatever the source of the funding).

Second, he invests heavily on visibility through attending functions and events all over the country (which earned him the ‘Tanga Tanga’ epithet and which he has tactfully embraced). Third, he publicises the development narrative, which sometimes includes non-existent projects, claiming credit that is sometimes unmerited. And finally, working with ODM political rejects and opponents undermine the party.

For this, he has proved particularly dangerous to the welfare of ODM as he already has the vocal Aisha Jumwa and now Mohamed Elmi. In future, he can simply buy out all of their weak candidates in favour of Jubilee.

HOW TO STOP RUTO

First, create a ceasefire with him. This instantly removes the winds on his sails.

A Handshake with him is the milk that will neuter his strong black coffee. It will also create acceptability in his political base and loosens the nuts that have kept that base shut. But more importantly, this strategy will make the DP set the tone or rather the pace for the 2022 election and maintain his ‘front-runner’ status.

Now, every marathoner knows there is no easier person to beat than the frontrunner. Having already seen victory in their mind they relax, and most frontrunners tire around the final bend when the person they least expected overtakes them. This last tactic was employed in 2013 against Raila and ODM and in 2002 by Narc against Uhuru and Kanu.

When Raila was the undisputed frontrunner in 2013, he saw victory and it got into his mind. Then the Jubilee duo crept in surreptitiously and overtook him at the last moment, despite being shackled by the ICC and being made international pariahs by among others the US and the UK.

Otherwise, the more anger hyped on him, the higher he soars.