By Oscar Obonyo
Prime Minister Raila Odinga may be miffed by political rivals now riding on the crest of what he so gallantly fought for to realise democratic space and freedom of expression, to discredit his own presidential bid.
The recently published book Peeling Back The Mask by his former aide Miguna Miguna, in particular, has handed rivals fodder to fault his reform record.
And some of the prickly criticisms have come from the most unexpected direction – diehard pro-establishment politicians of former regimes, who threw in everything to stop the reform wheels.
Raila’s key challengers for presidency, including Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, have since termed his reform credentials as “fake”. And Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi has equated the PM to Brazilian soccer legendary, Pele – euphemism for old glory that no longer counts.
For a man who pushed so hard for reforms and got jailed for a decade in the process, is Raila a victim of his valour? Isn’t the freedom of expression Miguna has used to pen his book and paint him in negative light, a result of his own sweat?
But Safina party leader Paul Muite argues it is wrong to measure the second liberation struggle in terms of individuals being victims or beneficiaries. Everybody, says the lawyer who teamed up with the PM in the struggle, should take current developments in their strides.
“We knew all along that a Constitution was not an end in itself, but a means to the end that guarantees quality of life and democratic space,” says Muite.
The issue of corruption, he adds, is one that leaders must be held accountable for. According to him, Jomo Kenyatta’s Government planted this seed of corruption with retired President Moi’s perfecting the vice. And during the shared Government of Kibaki and Raila, it has been at an all-time high.
While saluting the PM’s reform credentials, Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale faults Raila for ignoring other players in the struggle. As a university student, Khalwale says his studies were discontinued owing to pro-reform student riots. Musalia’s father, then Local Government Minister, Moses Budamba Mudavadi, only reinstated him following intervention.
“With regard to the PM’s decision not to take legal action over Miguna’s book, he has proved that allegations in the book are not entirely untrue,” says Khalwale.