Jubilee’s Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is doing what I thought he would never do. The man from Gatundu appears to be genuinely fighting corruption. He’s brought down the guillotine on his fellow political and business classmates. Am I dreaming in Buffalo, New York or is this for real? Let me be fair. Everything I have seen – and heard – suggests that Kamwana isn’t simply barking. He’s actually biting. He’s swinging the Sword of Damocles without pity. The cudgel of his deadly machete seems to know no ally, tribe, race, religion or buddy. The question is why Mr Kenyatta has woken from his slumber. Why has he decided to walk his talk now? Methinks the man from Bondo is the key.
Let’s look at what Kenyatta is doing. First, he ordered the arrest and prosecution of corrupt mandarins and the destruction of their cartels. I thought it was one of his usual stunts done with bluster and panache. But then I saw big fish – barracudas – in the dock. He’s obviously empowered DPP Noordin Haji to do what his supine predecessor couldn’t – and wouldn’t – do. Mr Haji – a Robert Mueller facsimile – looks methodical, ruthless, and cutthroat. He doesn’t waste time “studying” EACC files. He acts. Apparently, Kenyatta has his back. The second thing Kenyatta has done is demolish and – or – repossess structures built on grabbed public land. The beauty of the exercise is no one is being spared.
Kenyatta is exercising what I call leadership. If you’ve noticed, the guilty and their acolytes are either quiet, or pleading for absolution. Typically, the likes of Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen would now be crying that their man – Deputy President William Ruto – is being targeted. But someone appears to have put a sock in Mr Murkomen’s mouth. I haven’t heard him, or his ilk, hiding beneath the proverbial tribal skirt. That’s because like Dracula, all detractors are afraid of the light, or in this case, the stake. They know Kenyatta isn’t kidding this time round. Could the son of Jomo do what his dad – the Burning Spear – wouldn’t? The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
Methinks Kenyatta has one thing in mind. It’s a six-letter word – legacy. My crystal ball tells me Kenyatta is determined to clean the stains on his tenure – contested or stolen elections, the taint of the ICC, the tribalisation of the State, and endemic corruption that has infested literally the bone marrow of the state under his watch.
There’s only one way to do accomplish these feats – slay the dragon of corruption. What Kenyatta has done – taking down iconic buildings in Nairobi – is a historic achievement. I applaud him. It’s not easy. He could lose most of his political allies, many of whom are deeply corrupt. But I think he’s chosen his legacy over their benediction.
Kenyatta is going for broke. That’s the only way he’ll etch his name in the annals of great Kenyans. But why and how has he been able to find the courage, and will, to stare down the demon? Three names which belong to one person are responsible – Raila Amolo Odinga.
I’ve said before and will do so again here. Raila is Kenya’s greatest democrat. He’s not perfect but he’s played pivotal roles in all the major democratic gains of the last several decades. He was key to the Second Liberation. He brought Kanu down. He brought the 2010 Constitution to fruition. He’s been the key opposition figure. Now the March 9 “handshake” is working “impossible” miracles.
Why do I credit the “handshake” with Kenyatta’s resolve to fight evil spirits? Kenyatta has a stark choice. Will he bequeath Kenyans Ruto, his erstwhile numero dos, or will he go through with the “handshake” and leave Kenya a more democratic state? Put differently, will he forsake Raila for Ruto? By the way, the two choices are irreconcilable. Kenyatta can’t have his cake and eat it too. It’s either Raila or Ruto. That’s the cold bitter truth. This is a risky proposition. Ruto’s Rift Valley brigade thinks Kenyatta and his “people” – whoever they are – owes them a debt. That’s voting to a man and woman for Ruto in 2022.
My view is that it ain’t happening. Kenyatta’s “people” won’t vote for Ruto in 2022. Nyet. Nada. Zilch. Ruto is better advised to stop wasting his time and look for votes elsewhere. That’s a bitter pill Ruto must swallow. Kenyatta will not sacrifice his legacy to put Mr Ruto in power. The signs are there for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Kenyatta and Raila will not be separated. They are Siamese twins.
- The writer is SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of KHRC. @makaumutua.