• The question to be asked and answered is whether Uhuru and the "system" are all in for Raila to be the next President, regardless of what happens at the polls.
• If not, the further question is whether Matiang’i is the viable alternative to Raila that Uhuru and the system will front.
Is Interior CS Fred Matiang’i a viable alternative to Raila Odinga to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta as President?
The question obviously implies what’s written all over the wall in capital letters: Neither President Kenyatta nor the 'system' wants Deputy President William Ruto to see the inside of State House come 2022.
You can argue otherwise but that’s energy better spent doing something else unless disbelief is a more soothing alternative for you.
The question to be asked and answered is whether Uhuru and the 'system' are all in for Raila to be the next President, regardless of what happens at the polls.
If not, the further question is whether Matiang’i is the viable alternative to Raila that Uhuru and the system will front. The use of Uhuru and the 'system' together is deliberate because they go hand in hand. It is the 'system' that makes presidents, not voters, with the exception of 2002.
That will not change in 2022, regardless of who is on the ballot. This so-called system will never cede control of the instruments of power. And its preference will not be someone who can garner the requisite 50 per cent+1 of the vote.
To be sure, BBI, or at least the most important aspect of it relating to restructuring the government will become the law of the land, be it through a referendum or some other creative way that will be confirmed by the Supreme Court as being perfectly legal. This could be compared to President Donald Trump's description of his call to the President of Ukraine. Everyone else knows there was nothing perfect about it.
Before answering the two questions, it should be noted right now and for the future that the only viable candidate who can take on and defeat Ruto in a clean or dirty (vifaranga vya computa) election, is Raila. That is, if Ruto will be on the ballot, and the use of 'if' here is deliberate because there is no guarantee the DP will be in the race.
Which brings us to the dual questions, and the answers are complicated, yet simple:
Although Uhuru has given strong hints that he prefers to have his big brother Raila succeed him, he has not outright said so and this is deliberate. Not because he’s being “fair and impartial” to all who wish to vie, but because it is the answer to the first question — Uhuru and the system are not all in for Raila to finally be sworn as President.
In other words, it would not surprise anyone, including Raila, if Uhuru and the system shun him at the last minute and front someone else who shall be imposed on us.
Is that person Matiang’i? In politics and hardball business negotiations, there’s a tactic called a “trial balloon.” A trial balloon is information sent out to the media in order to observe the reaction of its targeted audience.
Uhuru’s confidant and clearly one of the key players in the system said the other day that Matiang’i is the person best placed to succeed President Kenyatta since he has exhibited “firm and transparent leadership".
That was a trial balloon that did not gain traction. It doesn’t mean it was all for nothing. What Uhuru and the system are saying is, yes, Matiang’i is a viable alternative to Raila, which leads to another question? Is that true?
The answer, most people would say, is no.
However, what most people, including those who vote, say doesn’t matter — only what the system says matters — on this, they may have to think hard as it could lead to what Uhuru is trying to fix: People revolting at being rendered irrelevant at the ballot, leading to riots, destruction of property and deaths.
That wouldn’t be the case were Ruto to win but be rigged out in favour of Raila.
Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator.