TROU­BLE IN JU­BILEE PARADISE

It would be a tragedy were Ju­bilee, which is cur­rently in pole elec­toral po­si­tion, to drop the ball and give op­por­tu­nity to a strug­gling, backped­dling and de­mor­alised ODM/Cord

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices - DAUDI MWENDA Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor

Un­der­neath the pomp, pageantry and os­ten­ta­tious dis­play at the Ju­bilee Party launch lies cut­throat in­fight­ing for po­si­tions. The po­si­tions are cur­rently held by in­terim of­fi­cials. The Ju­bilee lead­er­ship of Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto is sail­ing very close to the wind in an at­tempt not to rock the boat as its mem­bers en­gage in be­hind-thescenes vi­cious power strug­gles.

The in­ter­nal wran­gling and back­stab­bing have been brought to the fore by New Ford Kenya mem­bers, who have laid stake to the pow­er­ful sec­re­tary gen­eral po­si­tion. They have threat­ened undis­closed con­se­quences if that po­si­tion is not re­served for them. Other par­ties stak­ing sim­i­lar claims could se­ri­ously rat­tle and desta­bilise the new party.

De­spite pre­ten­sions to the con­trary, all is not hunky­dory in JP as frac­tious fault lines ap­pear on the sur­face. How th­ese dif­fer­ences and in­fight­ing will be re­solved will de­ter­mine its fu­ture. It will be one of the big­gest chal­lenges to the JP lead­er­ship. A fall­out would be their un­do­ing.

The op­po­si­tion mean­while is watch­ing with glee and ju­bi­la­tion, as what ap­peared to be a cut-and-dry ap­proach to the 2017 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion runs into strong head­winds, grant­ing it a much-needed sec­ond chance. A still-born JP would amount to an early Christ­mas present to a be­lea­guered op­po­si­tion.

It would be a tragedy of un­mit­i­gated pro­por­tions were Ju­bilee, which is cur­rently in pole elec­toral po­si­tion, to drop the ball and give op­por­tu­nity to a strug­gling, backped­dal­ing and de­mor­alised ODM/Cord. The ver­bal ex­change at Wil­liam ole Nti­mama’s fu­neral be­tween Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and ODM leader Raila Odinga was, to say the least, un­nec­es­sary. The Pres­i­dent must be per­suaded that he does not have to re­spond to ev­ery slug­ging match he is in­vited to, es­pe­cially by the op­po­si­tion.

A usu­ally re­strained Uhuru sud­denly and un­ex­pect­edly flew off the han­dle and gave as good as he got! Re­spond­ing in anger and not weigh­ing his words care­fully had the ef­fect of low­er­ing the sta­tus and es­teem of the pres­i­dency while cor­re­spond­ingly rais­ing the pro­file of the op­po­si­tion leader. In ten­nis terms this would be “ad­van­tage Odinga”. Like Ge­orge Bernard Shaw, the Pres­i­dent should learn never to wres­tle with a pig (no of­fence meant) as one gets dirty whilst the pig en­joys it.

It is a known fact that the op­po­si­tion leader has never ac­cepted the Uhuru pres­i­dency. It is doubt­ful that he ever will ever con­cede to the younger man, hav­ing been deeply stung by the March 4, 2013 elec­tion de­feat. He will, there­fore, em­ploy ev­ery trick in the book to dis­credit the pres­i­dency in a clas­sic case of sour grapes. The ri­valry of Kenya’s most fa­mous po­lit­i­cal fam­i­lies con­tin­ues. The script is eerily sim­i­lar as an­other Keny­atta out­foxes and out­wits an Odinga in a po­lit­i­cal duel.

It is the duty of the Pres­i­dent’s han­dlers to avoid sit­u­a­tions where the two can get into di­rect con­fronta­tion. In politics, pub­lic per­cep­tion is ev­ery­thing and can­not be ig­nored. The chest-thump­ing and brinkman­ship in Narok el­e­vated Raila’s sta­tus. Those in charge of state pro­to­col made a se­ri­ous er­ror by over-ex­pos­ing the per­son of the Pres­i­dent. It is an al­most fore­gone con­clu­sion that the 2017 gen­eral elec­tion is Ju­bilee’s to lose. All they need do is main­tain the sta­tus quo and not do any­thing fool­ish or thought­less in the next six months. In so do­ing they would deny the op­po­si­tion a much-needed elec­tion plat­form.

Their ob­ses­sion with 2022, how­ever, is be­com­ing un­healthy. One gets the un­com­fort­able feel­ing that some­one is at­tempt­ing to en­force set­tle­ment of a 2022 “debt” in ad­vance. They must ex­er­cise hu­mil­ity even if the stars are aligned in their favour for the fu­ture. Dis­play­ing un­par­al­leled ar­ro­gance breeds re­sent­ment.

UHURU AND RUTO SAIL CLOSE TO THE WIND AS MEM­BERS EN­GAGE IN BE­HIND-THE-SCENES POWER STRUG­GLES

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