HANDSHAKE POLITICS

DP allies change of heart to attend BBI rallies 'not genuine'

In Summary

• The body language and remarks attributed to some of them would tell all.

• They had not changed their hardline position and this was just a change of tack.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, Dr Bonny Khalwale, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and DP Ruto's aide Farouk Kibet dance during the fundraising in Eldoret on October 21
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, Dr Bonny Khalwale, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and DP Ruto's aide Farouk Kibet dance during the fundraising in Eldoret on October 21

When I heard Tangatanga MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto announcing that they will attend BBI rallies starting with Mombasa, I questioned their genuinity in the move.

The body language and remarks attributed to some of them would tell all. They had not changed their hardline position and this was just a change of tack.

Listen to what most of the lawmakers in this camp stated during a Press Conference held in Nairobi. “We have the brains. We know the BBI forums are meant to stop Ruto from succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta. So, we shall attend the Mombasa forum to counter that narrative and tell Kenyan ‘the truth’. ODM leader Raila Odinga is behind this game. He is using these rallies to drum support for 2022 presidential election”.

They will not bother to prove or substantiate their claims.

I have never heard Raila declaring that he will run for President in 2022. So, why put words in his word? Constitutionally, Raila is entitled to run and if he opts to so, I am sure he will tell us at the right time.

For now, he is rallying Kenyans to support a review of the Constitution through the BBI process.

“This is not about Raila and Uhuru or creating positions for them. We are doing this for posterity,” Raila reiterated so many times.

The Mombasa meeting will be the third one since the BBI task force and leaders supporting the handshake kicked off the regional sensitisation forums. The Ruto allies had boycotted the previous ones in Kisii and Kakamega.

If I am asked, I would advise the Ruto team not to attend the meeting in Mombasa. Allow me to explain. First, they were known not to mince words in opposing the review of the BBI report and a referendum. So, if they will maintain this position, you would expect the proponents of BBI and handshake to interpret this as a plot to hijack the initiative.

This could create tension which would lead to shouting and booing of DP allies. It would appear the Ruto team is aware of this. MP Didmus Barasa, a staunch ally of DP, was quoted as saying. "We going to mobilise 500 youths from each of the constituency in Coast and ferry them to the venue of BBI meeting at Tononoka ground to counter supporters of our rivals who will dare to shout at any of our members".  

During the launch of the BBI report at Bomas of Kenya when Senate majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen was heckled after he claimed the organizers of the forum only invited the delegates who supported the handshake. The DP and a number of his allies attended the launch and addressed the forum.

The BBI task force had only managed to collect the views of 7,000 Kenyans. Compare this to a population of 47 million people. That was a drop in the ocean. So, there is a good reason for reopening the debate on BBI.

Allow me to say this. I will not be surprised if some members in DP'S camp, who will attend the Mombasa rally, will resort to deliberately making utterances meant to annoy the supporters of Uhuru and Raila. Reason? This will give them another opportunity to create a false impression that the two leaders were not committed to building a united and cohesive Kenya.

You cannot provoke the people and then expect them to buy that narrative. I remember they tried to use this strategy during the Kibra by-election but their efforts backfired.

The  Constitution states that the supreme law can only be amended through a popular initiative or parliamentary process.

A number of proposals in the BBI report are seeking to alter the structures of the governance. Here, there is no short cut. Kenyans must participate in a referendum to adopt or reject them.

In a democratic society, citizens play a leading role in the constitution-making process. This is because it is about laying the foundation and charting the destiny of their country.

In our case, the MP exercises the power donated by the people. Therefore, the lawmakers have no right to interfere with the core provisions of the constitution.

Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a political analyst and blogger