Last Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta gave Ida Odinga a prestigious commendation: The Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart (EGH). This is a state honour second only to the president’s own: the Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart (CGH).
Doubting Thomases will say that this grand gesture would not have happened without “Pax Odingatta,” the political truce between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. I shamelessly declare that I am one of those Thomases.
In fact, I am doubtful and suspicious of the truce itself. First of all, it is possible that Kenyatta is taking Raila for a long, scenic ride. After all, Kenyatta has played the ‘illusory alliance’ card before. In 2012, another hapless man who was just as ambitious as Raila fell for the classic Uhuru Partnership Trick. Bear in mind that the 2012 case was even worse, because there was an actual MoU, the infamous ‘Memorandum of (Mis)Understanding.
The document was signed between the two parties: the ‘gullible casualty’ Musalia Mudavadi, and the ‘crafty trickster,’ Kenyatta. Kenyatta later backtracked on the MoU, but as he told us then- it was not his fault; he signed the agreement under duress from the devil and other unidentified dark forces. Fast forward to the March 2018 ‘UhuRaila Peace Treaty.’
This thing is on shaky ground. If Kenyatta reneged on a legal document signed before lawyers, what is a handshake? But why would Kenyatta go through all the trouble? It is simply because making Raila his ally solved half of the president’s problems overnight. Kenyatta literally rid himself of a ‘political thorn in the flesh’ for his last term in office.
Since Kenyatta was re-elected in 2017, Raila proved to be a political nemesis that no president would ever want to have. His ability to be an unyielding perennial political pest was admirable. Raila had committed himself to being a political nuisance to the Kenyatta administration.
The president faced all sorts of headaches: disruptive mass action, ‘impossible’ electoral demands, a guerilla-like ‘Resist Movement’, company boycotts, cessation threats, and the everyday shame of unearthed government corruption scandals To top it all up, Raila swore himself in as president.
Kenyatta must have had sleepless nights for eight solid months, between the first election month of August 2017 and the March 9 when he finally contained his nemesis. Sure enough on March 10th, the day after the Raila co-optation, it has been ‘perfect peace’ for the president. At least as far as attacks from the opposition are concerned.
But I admit that I could be terribly wrong on the fickleness of the arrangement between the two leaders. Kenyatta may not be using Raila. And I say so because Kenyatta and Raila have dynastic interests, which brings us to point number two.
The ‘UK-RAO Entente’ could very well be here to stay, and for a very very long time. The two political houses could be coming together to perpetuate their reign on the presidency. This means that we should not be surprised if the ‘Kingdom of Kenya’ is being set up for a systematic recycling of ‘Monarchs’. Imagine this: The Constitution is amended in mid 2020 to expand The Executive (a reading of Article 255 determines that a referendum is not necessary). A new ‘ethnically representative’ leadership with a President, Vice President, Prime Minister and two other ‘accessory slots’ will be put in place. It will prominently feature the Kenyatta, Odinga and Moi dynasties.
Kenyans will be convinced that what Kenyatta is achieving in his second ‘war on corruption’ will be reduced to nothing if ‘other people’ take over. Kenyans will be told that the country will relapse into its hopelessly corrupt ways. And therefore, Kenyans will allow Kenyatta to continue the good work. Where does this leave the current Deputy President, William Ruto? Let’s talk about that next week.
- The writer is a PhD candidate in Political Economy at SMC University. [email protected]