IN DEFENCE

Be wary of disinformation, 'black ops' against One Kenya Alliance

OKA is like a seed planted at the onset of the rains. It is just gushing from the ground.

In Summary

• Media has a right to speculate. But on One Kenya Alliance, the gossip appears orchestrated to cause suspicion within OKA and dismember the nascent alliance.

• The harangue is purposely designed to harass  Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Wetang'ula and Gideon into rushed politically grave errors.

One Kenya Alliance leaders Moses Wetang'ula (Ford-K), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Gideon Moi (Kanu) and former Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti drum up support for Machakos senatorial candidate Agnes Kavindu of Wiper on January 26, 2021.
COALITION BUILDING: One Kenya Alliance leaders Moses Wetang'ula (Ford-K), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Gideon Moi (Kanu) and former Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti drum up support for Machakos senatorial candidate Agnes Kavindu of Wiper on January 26, 2021.
Image: HANDOUT

 

In this column, I take an unusual tangent of offering a critique to some reportage and punditry in this newspaper.

I usually would do a right of reply when I feel my political interests have been abused through misrepresentation, innuendo or outright impudence. Today I critique out of desire to alert media and consumers generally against deliberate misuse of media for disinformation.

Misinformation is false information communicated without designed intention to deceive. It includes rumours, insults and pranks. But disinformation is misleading information spread deliberately to deceive. It is derived from the English translation of the Russian dezinformatsiya, a former KGB “black” operations and propaganda department.

Disinformation is “reverse” information. It is a viper ingrate for media. It contains high sounding intellectual and impressionistic falsehoods. A reporter may pretend deep analysis when the intention is to divert attention from actual facts. It’s done by luring a reader with lurid accounts from mysterious sources about subjects that didn’t happen but sound likely. It’s all about deception.

A “black operation” or “black op” is a covert, secret operation by a government agency to physically kill an opponent. In communication, a “black op” aims at “assassination” of the character, reputation, standing and status of an individual or organisation.

“Black ops” in media are actually the overt reserve of specialised political, economic and business reporters, and also op-ed pundits. Reportage that’s overtly speculative could be a black ops piece, unless as we saw recently, it’s an April Fool’s Day prank.

Nonetheless, media has a right to speculate. But on One Kenya Alliance, the gossip appears orchestrated to cause suspicion within OKA and dismember the nascent alliance.

The harangue is purposely designed to harass ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang'ula and Kanu’s Gideon Moi into rushed politically grave errors. The tirade, which sounds more like an unofficial commission of inquiry, has the intent of strangulating the alliance at birth.

Even though it’s too early to demand OKA names its presidential candidature, the political assassins are on the prowl. In our history, the announcement of the coalition presidential candidate is often shelved until a few months to the Election Day. The overriding focus for OKA now is not identifying a candidate but to craft a formidable line-up that will win election and form government.

The attack dogs won’t give an inch.

OKA is like a seed planted at the onset of the rains. It is just gushing from the ground. The coalition partners insist OKA is an emerging conversation. Only recently, they announced an open-door policy for like-minded Kenyans to join to foster genuine inclusivity.

Another anti-OKA fringe cadre is demanding a political philosophy and policy platform.

In a comment to The Star headlined 'One Kenya must have a philosophy', Victor Ogeto naively thinks there is a politician or anyone pursuing an interest that isn’t tainted by the convenience of selfish ambitions. At least such beings aren’t found in Kenya.

For instance, other than risking to sound suave, what is the use of saying “Kenyans must interrogate the philosophies and ideologies of political formations before buying them”; and in the same breath flailing about “Unfortunately, as a country, party politics has not crystalised to an organisation free of nepotism”? Why are angelic austerity demanded of OKA leaders as if they’re apparitions on Kenya’s political scene? It can only be motivated by designs to plant doubt in the public psyche and stymie OKA progression.

So, to demand of the alliance leaders an ideological confessional is attempting to play God. Clumsily, Ogeto is asking OKA to unveil its manifesto now, an event traditionally reserved for launch of official election campaigns. However, the excitement with OKA is understandable; a new beginning tends to invite most excited detractors.

In “Black Ops” fashion, Ogeto wants Kenyans to ignore the statement of purpose issued by the alliance partners during its announcement last month. The statement was categorical that it stands for a “transformative agenda that would build a country of equal opportunities for all Kenyans”.

The OKA leaders further confirmed theirs was “to secure a country where every Kenyan has an equal opportunity to prosper and benefit from the dividends of devolution”.

That should be enough for work in progress. Indeed, the components of that general statement will be unpackaged in stages as OKA gathers more moss in its maturation.

Fortunately, the partners are the forebears of the NASA dream, which now drives the OKA conversation. The NASA dream comprises propagation of cardinal principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the sovereignty of the people of Kenya, national unity and reconciliation, devolution of power, good governance, equity and social justice.

Under these broad principles, NASA specifically sought to promote, uphold, guard and respect the dignity of all individuals and communities; return the country to constitutional and democratic development path; end the culture of impunity; and restore sanity in the management of the economy and public affairs.

There is also an indolent cadre bent on misrepresentation and suppression of a nascent OKA. This is the essence of “One Kenya Alliance headache in choosing flagbearer” report by James Mbaka in The Star.

Question would be who says so?

A cauldron of persons, quoted by Mbaka is the answer. His virulent sources are obstinate OKA cannot survive, let alone win an election without the support and leadership of Raila Odinga. This is convenient obfuscation of truth.

This fifth column Mbaka relies on begs reminding that OKA partners are influential national leaders in their own right and have been the pillars of Raila ascendancy for 20 years. Therefore, their unity now solidifies and ensures widespread popular support that is not diminished, but enhanced.

Another frivolous claim has been that OKA is a creation of the “deep state” by which Mbaka “sources” mean Jubilee government mandarins. This allegation cleverly avoids contrary statements of support to the alliance competitors by authoritative persons allegedly representing “the Jubilee system”. Worse is the indolent claim that OKA is "just the old usual” yet they can’t showcase the alternative “new rare young” leadership.

OKA doesn’t mind open and genuine support from whichever quota that’s committed to its ideals. It’s why it has openly said sections of Jubilee Party are partners and even invited the former Prime Minister to join the conversation.

It, however, has not and does not clandestinely covet endorsement from high levels of government in the manner its competitors deceitfully do. OKA detests clandestine endorsements.

Kabatesi is Musalia Mudavadi's spokesperson