Why Handshake coalition a crude homemade bomb that could explode at any time

In that team, who hasn’t stabbed a 'partner' in the back and is unlikely to do so again?

In Summary

• Imagine the Handshake/ BBI Coalition composed of Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang'ula, Isaac Rutto and Gideon Moi.

• At a glance, the toxic IED combination would explode in the face of its makers, for it's a crude, makeshift bomb.

Wiper leader Kalonzo during the signing of the cooperation deal between his party and Jubilee at the Jubilee Headquarters on June 17.
DOUBLE-DEALING? Wiper leader Kalonzo during the signing of the cooperation deal between his party and Jubilee at the Jubilee Headquarters on June 17.
Image: FILE

Cobbling together a Jubilee coalition ostensibly to form a government of national unity is toxic and doomed.

From within its ranks, a leader is supposed to be anointed to run in 2022, if members don't destroy each other first. 

This coalition has no realistic end-game that would-be partners can buy into. Just as we don't know how bad the Covid-19 pandemic will be and when it will end, if it does, we don't know what kind of a monster is being created


This contraption is built of endless deception, revenge and grudges. There is only one clear outcome to hope or oppose in this twisted handshake politics. Unbeknownst to President Uhuru Kenyatta, all that’s being done in his name is pruning his friends as you cut off tree branches and prise-off the bark to expose it to the elements to rot.

Anyone without direct links with Uhuru is labelled anti-handshake, distanced from the President, told to wait for admission to the sanctum, or berated and banished to the cold.

It’s a crude joke that Uhuru heads this hydra-headed union to sanitise our divisive politics by excluding others.

Let’s call this the Handshake/BBI Coalition. The outline is vaguely visible. Now imagine it’s composed of Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang'ula, Isaac Rutto and Gideon Moi.

It’s evident this toxic coalition would explode in the face of its makers. It’s a crude makeshift bomb.

But assuming these ambitious gentlemen could gel on anything, the best they can all do now is collectively condemn Deputy President William Ruto. This is because each has been misled to think Ruto is the only obstacle in the way to their Nirvana. But without a Ruto motivating, who wouldn’t want to lead?

Was this to be a jury submitting to the chair? Like a divided jury, theirs would be a verdict of mistrials, an uncertain and dastardly experiment-Kenya.


In the unlikely case such an absurd coalition would be realised, it would be plagued with history and bad antecedents.

In this ‘team,’ who hasn’t stabbed another in the back and is unlikely to do so again? The players’ common denominator are their scars of betrayal. Their body language betrays the discomfort that at the slightest discord, any of them could stab the other. Or all of could engage in an unprecedented orgy of mayhem.

This is a futile ‘inclusive’ experiment. It can’t work, never worked and won’t work.

Space will only allow tracking the gymnastics of the two at the top of this house of cards game to show just how impracticable this is. Incidentally, the American TV series House of Cards premiered on February 1, 2013, smack into Kenya’s high velocity electioneering. That could have been the year this absurdity began to germinate.


Uhuru became president in 2013 and controversially again in 2017.

In 2002, he usurped a seat predestined, so they all thought, for themselves — George Saitoti, Raila, Kalonzo and Mudavadi. He joined with Gideon courtesy of his father, President Daniel Moi. It would soon be Gideon’s turn on the chopping board when Uhuru broke ranks with his godfather to support Raila’s 2005 referendum.

He didn’t stay long in the nascent ODM. In 2006, he abdicated as Leader of the Opposition to support the reelection in 2007 of his erstwhile rival, Mwai Kibaki.

He would lead by their noses the Group of Seven (or G7) – including Saitoti, Kalonzo, Eugene Wamalwa, Ruto and Gideon. He then left them groping, clashed with Gideon over the lacklustre Kanu leadership and then formed TNA in 2012. But he wasn’t done.

That year, he cajoled Mudavadi into a one-month come-we-stay ruse. It left Mudavadi believing in solid support as the candidate in a coalition of UDF, URP and TNA to be known as Jubilee. It was a slow-motion prefiguring of the ostracism DP Ruto, a collaborator against Mudavadi then, is now enjoying. Uhuru would claim the devil lured him into that deal, much as he might with Ruto’s current overstay of goodwill.

After blindsiding Ruto with the mirage of a 10-year reign of his own, Uhuru embraced Raila, his arch-rival for the presidency in 2013 and 2017. The UhuRai bromance has shunted Ruto aside. 


Enter the maestro, Raila Odinga, the dealmaker. Whom hasn’t he stuffed, shambled? Ever eager to head the queue, he wasted little time after the death of his father and Ford Kenya leader Oginga Odinga to rattle interim leader Kijana Wamalwa.

Outsmarted, he quit Ford Kenya in a huff – a well-rehearsed trick deployed over three decades – to acquire NDP and quickly enter a deal with Moi in Kanu.

The opposition – as would happen again – could wait. Ensconced in Narc after fleeing Kanu in late 2002 when he had been overlooked in favour of Uhuru, Raila emerged, as he would the world believe, as the regent king hoisting the Kibaki presidency. Of course, the Kibaki homeboys would have none of his razzmatazz.

The 2005 referendum for a new constitution was a godsend as Kibaki’s homeboys messed with the draft and Raila’s team handed Kibaki a thorough beating.

On Raila’s coattails were Uhuru, Mudavadi, Kalonzo and Ruto. Energised in a newly cobbled together ODM Kenya outfit, he would be served part of his own ‘abandon’ medicine and stagger as Uhuru returned to Kibaki, as Kalonzo rushed to ODM-K, until a magician dropped ODM.

He would slog through ODM’s obviously rigged primaries at Kasarani to lead the Pentagon of Mudavadi, Ruto, Najib Balala, Charity Ngilu and Joseph Nyagah into the 2007 elections. He must have won, because if he didn’t, the vote was stolen. It was time to make deals against the backdrop of post-election violence.

Once in the nusu mkate government with Kibaki, it was time for new deals heading to 2013. The Pentagon was another deal, a high-sounding pantomime of collective, collegiate and rotational leadership. To avoid the covenant, old pals were discredited and discarded.

In 2013, Ruto, Balala and Ngilu teamed up with Uhuru. Mudavadi took off with Gideon and Eugene Wamalwa. Back in the fold was Kalonzo playing second fiddle and a new recruit in Wetang'ula under Cord. The post-2013 Cord wobbled on with Kalonzo deluded he’d be the 2017 candidate. To forestall that, Raila herded them into Mudavadi’s new National Super Alliance, where he again emerged the candidate to Kalonzo’s chagrin. Promises of succession were torn asunder.

The rest is history. Raila simply walked away from his Nasa colleagues and unexpectedly shook hands with his bitter rival in the 2017 twin presidential elections, Uhuru. No longer useful, the others were abruptly discarded.

As Raila calibrates new ladders for 2022, he’s plucking high up the apple tree, ready to shake off newly befuddled acquaintances. For him, it’s just business, no hard feelings. For them, it’s another skeleton in the cupboard, never to be forgotten. There’s a litter of agreements broken, promises unkept.

Raila has been in every government since 1997 except from 2013-17. It’s partly the reason for Covid-19 political crusades to exclude those deemed too familial - and why there won’t be a Team Handshake/BBI Coalition anytime soon unless you want the country to implode.  

Kabatesi is a communications and governance consultant. He is also Mudavadi's spokesperson. Views here are his own.