HE rise of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho in the politics of ODM has left tongues wagging. ODM leader Raila Odinga is once again faced with the challenge of looking at his team afresh and whether such a team is capable of doing what needs to be done.
There have been calls for Raila to cast away the old guard and get a whole new team of fresh people around to define his interests for 2017.
I must say that Kenyan politics is not defined by age or the kind of people one is surrounded with. Age does not attract votes in Kenya. To start with, Mwai Kibaki was surrounded by a fairly old crowd during his 10 years in power and went on to deliver in a way that beat all his predecessors hands down.
A careful look at ODM does not reveal an image of old people. James Orengo, Opiyo Wandayi, Junet Mohamed, Simba Arati, Janet Ong’era and Timothy Bosire do not by any standard qualify to be described as old. Better still, the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, does not cap an age limit to involvement in politics. One can play politics until he or she drops down dead.
The people being described as old, and hence should be discarded, have stood by Raila’s side in both good and bad times. They have earned his trust, and he, too, has earned their trust. In any case, most of them fall in an age gap that is the majority in the party. So Raila abandons them and replaces them with whom?
In my view, there is no need for the ODM leader to change the face of the people who surround him.
Besides experience, most of these politicians are big assets and resources of the party. They occasionally fund party activities from their own pockets and, thus, they offer a better respite than bringing in young, inexperienced individuals whose value is only that they are young.
Even if he really wanted to change and bring in the so-called young people, Raila does not have the advantage of time. We are too close to 2017 General Election and therefore it would be a major misstep if he were to start changing the people around him.
Raila has little choice. He must keep on relying on the people he knows best – the Old Guard around him.