JUBILEE WARS

The good, the bad and the ugly in Kenyan politics in a week

I truly hope Jubilee wars get worse and the party disintegrates to the four winds so this country can seek a fresh start in the next election

In Summary

• The Murang'a grandstanding and violence presents the clearest sign that what were initially internal Jubilee feuds have predictably become national security challenges.

• In the larger scheme of things, Tangatanga’s invasion of Uhuru’s backyard in this manner is starting to appear rather bold and provocative.

Deputy President William Ruto, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirici at AIPCA, Kenol, in Murang’a county on Sunday, October 4.
KENOL MEET: Deputy President William Ruto, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirici at AIPCA, Kenol, in Murang’a county on Sunday, October 4.
Image: DPPS

Chinua Achebe says in Things Fall Apart that the lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree decided it would praise itself since no one else did.

This past week, ODM conducted successful primaries in Msambweni and in wards facing by-elections, particularly in Kisumu North, where the incumbent took up the seat of the Kisumu speaker. The primaries went largely successfully and peacefully. The importance of this is not immediately apparent until you scan the Kenyan political landscape closely.

For a long time, indeed, since the huge Narc victory in the 2002 polls, political parties have become short-term vessels for one electoral contest, to be folded up for something better next time round. The net effect is that parties haven’t been doing the basics to ensure their longevity, especially such otherwise mundane undertakings as establishing election boards, conducting grassroots elections and primaries.

Msambweni is the second constituency in roughly one year in which ODM has carried conducted primaries, after Kibra last year. Despite small hiccups, these primaries show a renewed desire by ODM to do things right and to sustain itself beyond just the personalities that make it tick.

Yet it is disheartening just how little of these are replicated across other parties in the country. I have stated here before that ODM appears to be the only political movement doing the things that prepare it for an electoral contest in under two years.

Like the lizard in Achebe’s story, I think the party should hit the streets with copious amounts of self-praise, especially given the chaos in rival parties. Across in Jubilee, there was another week of unending feuds. But what should disturb right-thinking Kenyans is the verbal slurs against Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju by the Tangatanga faction of the party.

Between Tuju and Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe, the latter is the more vicious anti-Ruto voice in the party, with often rabid attacks on the DP that leave no space for reconciliation soon. Yet in the response to the two, Tangatanga politicians go really personal on Tuju.

In fact, Tuju has always remained gracious in his responses to DP’s allies, asserting in live TV interviews that “matters touching on the DP and the President are above my pay grade."

The underlying message in these attacks on Tuju, especially the perennial suggestion that he is an ODM mole and should go to Chungwa House, is thinly-disguised ethnic contempt. An unmistakable belief that Tuju, being Luo, does not really belong to Jubilee, but Murathe is just a 'rogue son'.

The hypocrisy is sickening. One minute the Tangatanga people wax lyrical about a new conversation that abhors ethnicity, yet the very next minute, they engage in disgusting ethnic insults to their party’s secretary general.

Tuju is one of the most decent men in Kenyan politics. When he speaks, you get the impression that he would be more comfortable behind a corporate desk, and not out in the pigfest of Kenyan politics exchanging jabs.

There are times I wonder what the Tangatanga folks would do if they had a more abrasive secretary general in the mould of Joseph Kamotho to contend with. Because it seems that bullying is their modus operandi, and a gentleman for an opponent is exactly their political meal.

Still on Jubilee wars, last week ended with one of the ugliest scenes so far in their unending drama. Deputy  President William Ruto visited Kenol, Murang'a county, and violence ensued, leaving two people dead.

In the larger scheme of things, Tangatanga’s invasion of Uhuru’s backyard in this manner is starting to appear rather bold and provocative.

One has to wonder how things will be when Uhuru decides he has had enough of the perceived disrespect and provocation. From a casual glance, the Tangatanga strategy seems to revolve around the belief that Uhuru will not react, or that their real enemies are civil servants and junior politicians. What I shudder to imagine is how this will unravel if Uhuru chooses to call the Tangatanga bluff, and decides to fight fire with fire.

­The Murang'a grandstanding and violence presents the clearest sign that what were initially internal Jubilee feuds have predictably become national security challenges. Yet one side of that divide keeps pushing and stretching the boundaries.

With every incident, Uhuru will be called upon to respond, not as Jubilee Party leader, but as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces and symbol of unity of the republic.

In a social media post, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu rightly pointed out that the only place violence has been rearing its head in these Jubilee fights was in Central Kenya, and not its other stronghold and Ruto backyard, the Rift Valley.

The import of this is to show a divided Kikuyu house and show their vote is up for grabs. Obviously, this thinking does not take into account Uhuru’s options and possible reaction when he deems the time is right.

Even before that, reports that several Kieleweke wing MPs had mobilised to confront the DP’s group when they stormed Jubilee House, provided the first indication that moving forward, the two sides are going for each other’s jugular and leaving no space for reconciliation.

For Uhuru, he can get away with being seen weak and ineffective as Jubilee leader, but certainly not as President. By all standards, the Jubilee feud has gone on for far too long and there is still a whopping two years to the general election.

This situation can only get worse, and it will be unsustainable to the country’s economic aspirations and stability. On the flip side, neutral observers who had to live with Jubilee’s arrogance from 2013 —  from matching suits and ties to taunts about eating meat as the rest watched — can’t help but marvel at the self-destruct mode that ruling party has gone into.

I for one hope the Jubilee political house burns down to ashes and leaves behind no memory, because Jubilee is probably the worst thing that ever happened to this country,presiding over a chaotic corrupt and divisive period that we are better off forgetting fast.

On that score, I am content to cheer from ringside s as both sides destroy each other. From a self-serving quasi-righteous position, I truly hope Jubilee wars get worse, and the party disintegrates to the four winds so this country can seek a fresh start in the next election, and forget the disastrous Jubilee experiment that fate threw at us.

That day will be a good day.