By Billow Kerrow
You can call it peer jealousy, or it is simply reforms rhetoric of the Kenyan kind. The G7 team has mounted all its guns on Raila Odinga’s reform campaign platform. His two horse race analogy, of the horse of reforms vs the horse of status quo and impunity, has drawn unusually sharp criticisms from all the other presidential hopefuls, long united as his foe. But his former aide Miguna Miguna’s book serialisation could not have come at a worse time for the ‘enigmatic’ man in Kenya’s politics.
Miguna’s statement that the PM’s office ‘was a swamp of corruption’ energised the G7 team to come out with guns blazing. From maize scam to oil deals, Miguna reveals the usual tolerance for high graft in the lofty halls of power, and the PM’s office was no exception. Miguna was flabbergasted by the Raila team’s ‘it is our turn to eat’ culture, though he never bothered leaving their company.
In her book, It’s Our Turn to Eat, Michela Wrong avers that Raila’s men were hopeful of ‘their time’ even as they voted in 2007. After the vote rigging, she says Raila’s men were ‘royally screwed’ and robbed of their ‘rightful turn at the trough’.
Ironically, in the 2003 Narc regime of the Anglo Leasing fame, Raila was also part of the Rainbow Coalition that did awfully little to tame their coalition partner’s avarice, except to accuse the Kibaki set that ‘there is a snake in the nest’.
In the Grand Coalition Government, accountability is not on test, and there is hardly anyone watching the till. Both sides have implicitly agreed to live the adage that ‘those living in glass houses should not throw stones’. Official opposition does not exist, and the civil society of yester years is largely subsumed in Government.
Edward Clay’s rumble in 2004 that ‘the practitioners now in Government have the arrogance, greed and a desperate sense of panic to lead them to eat like gluttons’ may well fit the current situation.
Pledges to fight graft and impunity by our leaders must be taken with a pinch of salt. All have a stink, if only by sheer dint of being in the company of the villains. None wants to raffle feathers when necessary. Take this week’s issues for instance: Parliament’s revelation of the Sh98 billion book-keeping blunders by the Treasury, the contemptuous County Commissioners snub of the courts and the Kabuga official cover-up. How many leaders would rise to the occasion and demand action? Awfully few!
But Raila would. And this is why he waves the reforms card. Unlike his G7 foes, he would tread where they won’t dare. Give the devil his due. It may be plain rhetoric, to be populist, or to settle political scores. In the court of public opinion, it counts. Silence means weakness against impunity, or simply complicity.
In Babafemi Badejo’s biography of Raila, An Enigma in Kenyan Politics, he says ‘Raila was not found wanting in the struggle for multi-party order in Kenya, and that his many years stint in jails in this regard endeared him to Kenyans’.
True, he fought for political freedoms. But the meaningful reforms we want tomorrow has to do with economic reforms, leadership integrity and good governance.
If Miguna’s tales are anything to go by, Raila’s reform card hardly inspires Kenyans in this regard. No wonder then that the G7 conformist team prefer placing him in their ranks too.
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