REPUDIATE TRADITION

Unlike Jomo, Uhuru can captain his succession to save Kenya

Junking backward ideology on succession and who deserves power will define Uhuru’s legacy, not the Big Four

In Summary

• Uhuru has repeatedly said he does not wish to be in government after 2022.

• However, Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe, who many believe speaks for Uhuru, has also repeatedly said President Kenyatta is not bowing out.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during Covid-19 press briefing at Harambee House on March 15,2020
President Uhuru Kenyatta during Covid-19 press briefing at Harambee House on March 15,2020
Image: MERCY MUMO

A common refrain about American politics is that nothing compares to what the country is going through right now.

There has never been a president like Donald Trump and there will never be one like him. If that distinction were marked by honour, integrityand leadership ability rranscending any president before him, or any in the future, it would be a distinction for the ages.

But it is not. Rather, the distinction is one marked by crass incompetence, shameless stoking of violence and thuggish determination to be reelected at any cost.

 

Indeed, there is real fear that if Trump loses in November, as he is poised to, he may refuse to leave office and put America in a position it has not experienced since its Civil War - which is suffering armed insurrection from within.

On the other hand, this may also be the case if he wins. Many will believe it was the result of rigging and Trump’s illegal use of his office to interfere with fair, open, and transparent elections. This, too, will see the despondent, the hurt and the angry out on the streets, with untold violence and destruction of property worse than the country has seen recently.

The hope is, given the country’s centuries-old federalist system and strong, though now heavily compromised institutions, the country may emerge with not nearly as deadly an insurrection either way.

This is precisely the kind of electoral violence we have seen during presidential elections in Kenya.

It is also the kind of violence and destruction of property President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga are determined to put an end to through the Building Bridges Initiative project.

It must have already dawned on the President that coronavirus has up-ended everything he wanted to accomplish. The only thing left in the short time he has left is managing the succession game and post-coronavirus recovery.

This is what will define Uhuru’s legacy, not implementation of the Big Four agenda.

To be sure, Uhuru has repeatedly said he does not wish to be in government after 2022. However, Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe, who many believe speaks for Uhuru, has also repeatedly said President Kenyatta is going nowhere.

However, in a recent appearance on a local television channel, Murathe said Uhuru and his men will be prepared to pack up nd leave government when his term ends "but only if the conditions are right".

What are the conditions? You can sum them up in one word, 'Ruto', or add just a few more to say if the controlling system’s preferred man or woman is sworn as President.

If somehow Ruto were to miraculously beat the system and be sworn in as President, Uhuru’s men in the so-called 'deep state' will be there to make sure it is a presidency one would not wish on their worst enemy, worse than anything the man is suffering now.

Uhuru in that scenario may not be President anymore, but his home next door to State House will become the new State House.

Let us race down history to put this in perspective: Once upon a time, there were men from Kiambu—Jomo Kenyatta’s minders, if you will — who swore that presidential power will never leave the House of Mumbi.

A subset of that ideology— if one can call it that — held that even within the House of Mumbi, presidential power will never cross the  Chania River, meaning, only Kikuyus from Kiambu would rule Kenya forever.

In 2002, power crossed the Chania River to Nyeri but went back to Kiambu in 2013 but Uhuru is now saying to hell with this backward ideology, let freedom ring as Dr Martin Luther King, Jr preached, so a Luo son, or one from anywhere other than the Kalenjin or Mt Kenya region can taste and exercise power.

It is a powerful repudiation that will surely cement Uhuru’s legacy as the man who saved a nation and finally put her on a path of abundant peace and prosperity.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator