Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Old man, old ideas. Pity.

The more you see, the less appealing it is, isn't it? The Orange Democratic Movement, ODM, the insurgency that rendered Mwai Kibaki's first administration a damp squib on so many parameters, has become a caricature of an authoritarian, Stalinist party. The elected representatives who manhandled their Executive Director, frogmarched him out of a party meeting, and deflated his vehicle's tyres are a harbinger of the intolerance we are to expect the second Raila Odinga is elected President of Kenya - if that day ever comes, that is. ODM is getting away from the hands of its leader, Raila Odinga, and increasingly in the hands of loyal elements who cannot countenance a political future for the country without Raila Odinga.

In the manner that Magerer Langat was treated by Naiprobi City Councy's members of the assembly are vital lessons, lessons that the Men in Black Incident failed to instil in the elected classes. The violence of the 2007 general election was an anomaly because it quickly became ethnicised and flared far beyond the "spontaneous" demonstrations argument favoured by Raila Odinga and William Ruto. Someone took advantage of the general disaffection with the re-election of Mwai Kibaki and Kenya suffered three years of economic stagnation and the ignominy, fiver years on, of their President being an indictee at the International Criminal Court and his deputy undergoing trial at the same court.

Mr Odinga has always rode on his mage as a leader with strong pro-democracy credentials. Until his appointment of Miguna Miguna to his staff, Kenyans were prepared to live with his peculiar demands for carpetted loos and the like. But Miguna Miguna put paid to the idea that democracy is something that Mr Odinga practiced or something that he truly believed in because of the manner he threw his weight around, aping the hardliners surrounding Mwai Kibaki and carrying out Mwai Kibaki's orders. Had Mr Miguna been less abrasive, even as he fought equally viciously for a fair share of the political spoils for ODM, we may have carried on with our rose-tinted-glasses view of Mr Odinga as a capable statesman with his heart in the right place.

Since Mr Odinga fired Mr Miguna in the dying days of the Grand Coalition, much has come to light of the manner Mr Odinga intends to rule should the right number of voters put the right number of marks on the right number of ballots. Kasarani in 2013 was the first example. Party elections that threatened to upend Mr Odinga's carefully crafted leadership cadre were disrupted and the promised report of the investigations into the fiasco is yet to be published. With Mr Langat's violent ejection from the party's management structure on accusations of being a mole despite his long and consistently loyal record to Mr Odinga and the party, it is time for Kenyan's to question the wisdom of having one man wield such a perverse influence on the political affairs of the nation.

My friend Eric will appreciate this; since the election of #TeamDigital, and despite their missteps along the way, Kenyans are not prepared to elect geriatrics in the future. All the dye in the world will not hide the fact that Mr Odinga is an old school politician with old school political ideas about command and control. We may abhor Mr Kenyatta's militaristic tendencies, but we appreciate the youthful vigour with which he is taking on the onerous tasks of being Commander-in-Chief and few of us lack faith that he will strike the right balance before he is forced to seek a fresh mandate from the people. Mr Odinga, sadly, seems stuck to the style of politics that prevailed before the repeal of section 2A of the former constitution, in which it was the will of the party leader that determined the party's fortunes. Mr Odinga is old. Much worse, his ideas are old too.

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