Monday, May 16, 2016

God is on holiday

I feel bad for Raila Odinga. OK, not exactly bad, maybe...sorry. Yeah, sorry. Mr Odinga will not be Kenya's fifth president. Not in 2017, not in 2022, not ever. Neither will it be Moses Wetangula, Kalonzo Musyoka, Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth or, drum-roll please, William Ruto. Mr Odinga has done much to keep his name in lights in recent weeks, the least not being the shellacking he took from Mehdi Hassan on Al-Jazeera's Head to Head. Today, though, it is his anti-IEBC vendetta that is agitating the pro-Jubilee, anti-Raila hordes.

Kenyans don't have that short a memory, and many do not like the idea of hooligans breaking into dukas under cover of political demonstrations. Mr Odinga's casual strolls to Anniversary Towers, IEBC HQ, repulsed twice over by Nkaissery's overzealous rungu-wielding askari polisi, have given Nairobi's petty thieves, pick-pockets, burglars and ngeta specialists many opportunities to practice their dark arts without worrying too much about the long arm of the law or a date with the magistrates of Uhuru Kenyatta's serikali.

One obvious consequence has been one or two incidents of mob justice; what remains unknown is whether this justice will revive the South Africa-inspired necklace, a Yana tyre and Super petrol combo that leaves victims smouldering in the middle of the road. It is the mob justice part of the anti-IEBC demonstrations that almost guarantee that Raila Odinga will never be Kenya's president; too many people associate his recent presidential campaigns with arrogance, violence and criminality. Exhortations that he "deserves" it because of his sacrifices to Kenya will fall on deaf ears because no one seriously believes any of Mr Odinga's class deserves the presidency, including even the incumbent.

What many Kenyans are persuaded of is that it really does not matter who is in charge at Anniversary Towers. Few Kenyans will ever get the opportunity to affect the lives of millions of Kenyans like Mr Odinga or the IEBC have, and few Kenyans would want that responsibility. Mr Odinga wants the presidency a little too much and the IEBC has identified itself with the President a little too keenly; none of them engenders trust and the dukawallahs counting losses this afternoon can only blame Mr Odinga and the hard-hearted Pharaohs of the IEBC. If both of them could exit the field, we wouldn't even notice.

The reason why Issack Hassan and his colleagues are unwilling to exit, and the reason Raila Odinga will lose the 2017 presidential contest and the 2022 one if his heart is still in it, is because the IEBC is more than a vote-rigging engine; it is now among the comfiest builders of apartments in Nairobi and no one wants to give up that kind of piggy bank in the middle of an election year. No one. All the demonstrating and picketing in the world by Raila Odinga and his cohort will not move Mr Hassan and his colleagues from office. It will take an Act of God to do so. God, unfortunately, is on holiday in Tanzania, enjoying the new-broom madness of John Pombe Magufuli.

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