By Kilemi Mwiria
Kiraitu Murungi was last week alleged to have proclaimed that Uhuru Kenyatta and The National Alliance party (TNA) brigade would only be welcome in Meru if he came through his (Kiraitu’s) Alliance Party of Kenya (APK).
After Uhuru ignored the warning and arranged a trip to Meru this weekend, an SMS allegedly from the APK secretariat warned Merus that “The Alliance Party of Kenya wishes to inform our members that the trip to the Meru region by Hon Kenyatta is only welcome given that he carries himself in a manner that shows respect to our party” and that APK members in Meru should “treat TNA like any other foreign party which is trying to market itself in this APK dominated region”.
Worse still, some youth from Imenti North recorded a statement with the police confirming that some APK leaders had paid them to disrupt Uhuru’s rallies in Meru.
One would expect that we have learned from the experience of 2007 when William Rutto and his team of ODM MPs were attacked in Kisii by youth sponsored by PNU politicians who declared that Kisii was a no-go zone for ODM. Events triggered by this attack set the pace for intensely ethnically divided political campaigns and the consequent post-election violence. The difference now, however, is that the both the contending parties’ leaders’ hail from a region that has traditionally voted together. Instead of seeing this development as a healthy sign of internal regional democracy, selfish politicians can only see loss of votes.
It is surprising that in this day and age, there are politicians naïve enough to imagine that they could play the role of regional kings despite the political reforms that have come with the post-Kanu era.
Sadly, some of the main players here are those politicians who fought that very Kanu regime under the reform bandwagon. It is clear the crusade was merely a cover up for their true intentions to learn and benefit from Kanu.
Fortunately, voters today can differentiate between a community and individual agenda. Apart from deluding themselves those who say that APK is the dominant party in Meru are only placing themselves in a position to benefit individually from the regime that will be in place in 2013. They want to be the ones deciding who will get which plum Government jobs and procurement contracts. It cannot be about what the Meru community will get from that regime because, unlike the past and thanks to the new Constitution, all jobs and other national opportunities will be shared equitably and transparently. There will be no goodies for presidents to dangle for political favours.
For the sake of peace and prosperity of all Kenyans, and not for a few well connected politicians, we should open Meru to all presidential contenders irrespective of which party they will be selling. In any case, our political parties are not distinguishable by their ideals but the personalities that lead them.
Likewise, all presidential candidates must prepare their communities to accommodate opponents who do not hail from these communities. Less than a month after the national peace conference and with all politicians, talking peace at the funerals of George Saitoti and Orwa Ojode, it is sad and surprising that some politicians can never learn.
The writer is MP for Tigania West and Assistant Minister Higher Education, Science and Technology