DUPLICITY?

2022 betrayal bells as handshake faces shaky future

Handshake cooperation deal threatened as fears of betrayal rage ahead of 2022

In Summary
  • Kenya's history is replete with shaky political marriages that have ended in acrimony, frustrated dreams and ultimately tears.
  • The standoff on the revenue sharing formula has exposed deep-seated suspicions roiling the handshake, amid claims Uhuru and Raila could have fallen out
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga outside Harambee House for the 'Handshake on March 9, 2018.
BUDDIES? President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga outside Harambee House for the 'Handshake on March 9, 2018.
Image: JACK OWUOR

The bells of political betrayal are tolling.

They could signal broken promises as powerful figures scheme against each other ahead of the 2022 presidential duel.

The latest signs: The standoff on the revenue sharing formula has exposed the deep-seated suspicions roiling the handshake, amid claims President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM Raila Odinga could have fallen out.

And handing over the final BBI task force report, which would greatly benefit Raila, has been delayed.

While Kenya's history is replete with shaky political marriages that have ended in acrimony, frustrated dreams and tears, 2022 could cement the graveyard of ambitions.

Fears that quickly cobbled-together political marriages could end in divorce ahead of the 2022 elections have emerged as heavyweights plot day and night.

The fast-shifting political landscape is projected to crush ambitions and hollow-out promises for 2022, as treachery, the stock in trade of Kenyan politics, plays out.

Analysts say the foundation of betrayal that plagues politics today was laid by founding President Jomo Kenyatta when he politically destroyed Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

The falling out between them and the subsequent assassination of Tom Mboya planted the seeds of disloyalty and double-dealing.

While betrayal has become synonymous with Kenyan politics, the betrayers and opportunists have also been betrayed.

Raila was first betrayed in 2002, after President Daniel Moi reneged on his promise and bypassed the then Lang'ata MP and picked the little-known Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, whose political history many say is a galaxy of opportunism and indecision, was betrayed after propping up President Mwai Kibaki in 2008.

Fast forward. Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi became another victim when Uhuru and William Ruto promised him the moon and then turned against him at the last minute in 2013.

At the heart of the 2022 betrayal schemes, Raila and DP Ruto feature prominently.

Ruto has already been vanquished by President Kenyatta following the March 8, 2018, handshake sealing a pact that ended dangerous, outright hostilities.

The President has reneged on his earlier promise to 'rule' for 10 years and then hand the baton to Ruto for another 10 years.

There are no chances, once rumoured, that Uhuru and Ruto could be staging theatrics to throw off political schemers before they reunite before 2022.

Ruto's allies have already been purged from key leadership positions in Parliament after Uhuru waged war to cut him down to size.

The DP said Uhuru was unfairly targeting his men in Parliamentary leadership changes, confirming the chasm between them.

With the President scheming his succession game plan and Ruto being pushed to the periphery of power, observers say Kenya is yet to see the climax of political betrayal.

Round one of betray appears done and dusted.

ANOTHER BETRAYAL UNFOLDING?

Doubtless, President Kenyatta's succession battle will be the latest chapter in treachery.

On Thursday, analyst Felix Odhiambo told the Star, "The bells of betrayal are ringing loud” ahead of 2022 yet many politicians are naive.

“Tears will definitely follow with claims of betrayals ahead of 2022," he said, warning the current political marriages would break up before the general election.

“We are yet to see the correct alignments that will be on the ballot in 2022. Before then, formations will have to be dismantled and people sacrificed.

Former Cabinet Minister Franklin Bett told the Star betrayal is an indispensable tool in Kenyan politics.

“We are yet to see the schemes leading to ultimate betrayals. The game has just started - watch this space,” the former State House comptroller said.

Bett added that as the President is determined to hand over to a successor who will carry on his legacy, "tears will definitely flow."

“It is any retiring president's wish to have a successor who will continue with his projects and respect his retirement. As the President looks all over to find one, many will be bypassed,” he said.

The President himself said last year that his choice will surprise many people 

CRASHED VEHICLE?

The Building Bridges Initiative was initially expected to be the road to President Kenyatta's succession but some politicians now claim the bandwagon could lead to a car crash.

A month after the BBI task force said it had completed its work and its final report, the team is yet to get a date to present the report to Uhuru and Raila.

The delay in submitting the report has caused an uproar from a section of politicians, especially DP Ruto's allies, who have alleged a sinister motive.

Ruto, who has been excluded from the succession matrix, is not part of the BBI process that would expand the Executive and create a Prime Minister's position, with two deputies.

Kiminini MP Didmus Barasa, a key Ruto ally, warned the pro-BBI team should be ready to face an historic betrayal in 2022.

“What is for sure is that someone is being played. It is only a matter of time before that comes to the fore. As the DP's allies, we are determined to win the support of Kenyans and not an individual,” Barasa said.

He said Ruto will continue with people-centred programmes, taking advantage of unfulfilled aspirations and discontent among th people.

“History is replete with ultimate betrayals and we are aware of such schemes,” he said.

Already, President Kenyatta's camaraderie  with Raila, which helped him annihilate Ruto, is seen to be facing uncertain future over BBI suspicions.

The BBI, which was to be the vehicle by which the handshake was to hurtle down the political terrain, has now triggered jitters within Raila's camp.

Although most of Raila's allies are not keen to go on record about the future of BBI, some say that it might not be the ultimate vehicle to take Raila to power that has eluded him for decades.

For them, Raila needs a Plan B to realise his State House dream.

“Yes, BBI was a great idea and we were hopeful it would deliver Baba to office. However, the delay in releasing the report has caused jitters over a game likely to leave us in treacherous waters," an MP close to Raila said.

He declined to go on record.

With claims the BBI train could be headed for derailing, the standoff over the Division of Revenue Formula in the Senate has made made it clear that all is not well with the Uhuru-Raila cooperation.

There are claims Uhuru snubbed Raila over talks to unlock the stalemate, despite the proposed formula posing a major threat to the ex-PM as it would hurt his support base in marginalised, sparsely populated areas.

If the latest formula were to be approved, giving more weight to population, as in Mt Kenya, Raila's influence at the Coast, Ukambani and Northeastern would be sharply diminished. 

On Tuesday, Siaya Senator James Orengo revealed the growing fears in Raila's camp that the handshake may not hold when he termed Uhuru "inaccessible".

Orengo, a key Raila ally said to having the ear of the opposition leader, even went ahead to claim no President would match Mwai Kibaki whom he said was always accessible.

The thing President Mwai Kibaki did probably no other president would be able to do. I am not ashamed of saying that. I am advising the current President to be more accessible for him to enable us to solve these problems,” Orengo told senators.

He went on, “We would not have been here if he was more accessible. I'm telling you without being afraid. I'm not saying it for me, I’m saying it for the country.”

Orengo's remarks could prefigure the future of the Uhuru-Raila handshake.

In any case, Murang’a Senator, who is also the Senate Majority Whip, had last Saturday said Jubilee would reconsider its support for the BBI report if the revenue-sharing bill did not pass.

"If for any reason the Bill does not sail through, then we might have to reconsider our stand on the BBI," Kang’ata said in Murang’a.

Raila has previous anchored his presidential campaigns on more allocations of resources to the counties, those that could be deprived.

On Thursday, Wiper vice chairman Victor Swanya said Orengo's statements cannot be dismissed.

“Orengo's closeness to Raila means he doesn't speak something he is not sure of. That Orengo said that says a lot about the status of the handshake,"he said.

Raila's popularity in the underfunded counties would plummet under the formula that would give major additional funding to counties in the President's Mt Kenya backyard and elsewhere.

As many as  18 counties from sparsely and marginalised counties could lose as much as Sh17 billion, while 19 counties mainly from Mt Kenya, Western and Rift Valley would gain.

The revenue formula poses a major headache for Raila. The handshake doesn't seem to be benefitting him in this case.

The opposition leader released a statement on Tuesday calling for the passage of the revenue formula as proposed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation, even as Uhuru remained silent.

However, the move was seen as a strategy to appease the losing counties, given that the CRA report had already been overtaken by events as the Senate was debating a report by the Finance and Budget committee.

The standoff has disclosed the deep-seated suspicions roiling the handshake, amid claims Uhuru and Raila could have fallen out.