The Star (Kenya)
Which madman will tell Uhuru the truth about BBI referendum?
The story is told of how King Henri IV of medieval France fell in love with the twentytwo year old noblewoman Henriette d’entragues.
e ultimate courtesan, Henriette, offered the king far more than beauty. She possessed a grace, a charm, a cutting wit, and demanding and impetuous passions that excited him. And before Henriette had sex with the king, she demanded outrageous sums of monies, to which the love-starved monarch readily assented.
His Minister of the Treasury, the duc de Sully, who described Henriette as a malignant wasp, was often compelled to fork out large sums of monies from the public treasury to meet the insatiable greed of the King’s beauty until he could not take it anymore.
When the king told him he was a madman for not obliging to Henriette, the duke replied that he wished he were “the only madman in France!” King Henri IV’S end was tragic. He was assassinated by a madman in the streets of Paris.
is story is why President Uhuru Kenyatta needs a madman to tell him the truth he would rather not want to hear. e country is in a terribly foul mood and the economy in an equally nasty state. at’s why whoever is advising the president to push for a referendum at this time is actually playing him a Henrietta.
To push for such an expensive and gigantic political undertaking when the real urgency in the country is fixing an economy in doldrums is to portray the President as a leader in blithe unconcern of his people’s plight. I do not know which pathways and byways the President walks but should he venture to take a walk along the city paths, especially those often frequented by wananchi, he would certainly feel their atmosphere —broken, empty and helpless.
Not that this palpable brokenness was not there prior to Covid-19 lockdowns. However, the crushed feeling has persisted in intensity following interminable corruption and primitive accumulation by tractable public officials and a presidency that seems aloof from the people.
So far, the fight against insidious corruption has remained a hyperbole an exaggerated claim and risky theatrics no substance.
It’s true the President needs a madman to rouse him to reality.
It also seems likely he is not surrounded by a madman to fearlessly tell him the truth, but by a claque of scheming bureaucrats seriously out-of-touch with the reality of the majority of citizens.
ree intentional happenings are working to his disadvantage. e first is Raila Odinga’s BBI push. Had the referendum been conducted in pre-covid-19, the lack of interest among the population would have been minimal. Its bullish push by an equally assertive driver is only serving to alienate further an already disillusioned people who continue to view Uhuru’s tenure through jaundiced eyes.
And as Raila advances his BBI agenda, Ruto is poking holes into it, and the public loves him for doing so. e resultant support seems to spur him on in this crusade. Ruto has seemingly become the madman in Uhuru’s government and a shooin for 2022 polls . Although he is not directly telling the President what not to do, he is actively telling him what to do through riddles that are easy to decipher.
Ruto’s undeterred push for the presidency and his covert contradiction of Uhuru is serving to endear him to the citizens. Uhuru finds himself in an unfamiliar territory as far as Ruto is concerned.
His gut feeling seems to tell him that of the two protagonists with similar personality profiles Raila and Ruto the latter is more than likely to tell him the mad truth of things as opposed to the former, whose record of use and dump is famously documented.
But the President is caught up in a fish net of sorts. He owes the continued functionality of his regime to Raila, who after being rehabilitated via the handshake reined in on his marauding troops. Raila — the ‘only madman in Kenya’ who has dared to tread where the devil has feared — is religiously relinquishing this title to Ruto, the brand new ‘only madman in Kenya’.
And Ruto is using his new title with relish, and as he does so, Uhuru is systematically being isolated from and by the public. e President appears immobilised by the turn of events and can only watch as things unfold.
e third event that has continued to harm Uhuru’s tenure is the policisation of the country. Covid-19 has certainly made the police gain more powers and prominence than is normally the case. e whippings, bribing and blaring sirens at the commencement of the curfew hour has only served to inure the public to police violence.
Put another way, the curfew is no longer seen as a measure for public health and safety, but as a tool to stifle contrary, but helpful voices.
Does the President have a window of opportunity to win people’s trust?
This will depend on whether Raila wins his BBI gamble or Ruto succeeds in alienating him from the voters, especially those from Mt Kenya. Should Raila lose the BBI bet and Ruto fails in his bid to wrest control of the vote-rich mountain, then Uhuru could salvage his legacy.
But the verdict is out there whether these two worthy men can simultaneously fail in their individual bids!