It's about time old men exited arena of politics
“The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” : Jeremiah 31:29Every so often Kenyans are riveted by succession disputes. These are caused by selfish old patriarchs who die intestate because they couldn’t imagine sharing their ‘hard-earned’ wealth with their progeny. Where resolution is elusive, matters end up in court for years on end. And where heirs agree to amicably share an estate, the inheritance is often squandered in record time as if to prove that wealth created by one generation can seldom be transferred to the next. It seems politics in Kenya mirrors society. Senior citizens well past their prime are still in positions of leadership. Former prime minister Raila Odinga is the archetype of the old order that fought for multi-party politics in Kenya. Cementing his credentials as a proponent of democratic rule, he has been in national limelight for close to four decades.
Internal dissentBut Mr Odinga does not appear to have heirs to his political kingdom. Unlike his father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who mentored politicians like Kijana Wamalwa, Raila seems to have no natural successor. It is said that he rules his ODM political party by fiat. Party representatives are hand-picked and there is little room for internal dissent. A charitable view of Raila is that he is a benevolent dictator, a necessary attribute in divisive politics where decision making is hampered by many voices pulling in various directions. But it is not a view that will hold much longer. Going by ODM’s losses in two recent by-elections, there is a groundswell of opinion among the youth that the old must now make room for the next generation.
Raila complicitThey have argued that his sense of judgment has atrophied with age. This is because barely two years ago, he had a public remonstration against the Jubilee administration of Uhuru, decrying the SGR as a senseless and extravagant expenditure. Others still, argue that the Jubilee administration intends to make Raila complicit in the country’s debt burden by linking him to mendacious spending over the SGR. For some reason, the Chinese lenders are reluctant to finance the next phase of the SGR. A Statehouse functionary has attempted to pass off the Naivasha-Kisumu section as an expendable adjunct to the whole line. But it is Raila who is left with egg on the face. Having promised to bring the SGR to Kisumu, and with it, a new port, he has yet to come up with a face-saving narrative to counter the caprice of those who took him to China. His detractors now call to question his commitment to them. They silently upbraid him for the lives of the more than 300 people who died on his behalf in the last presidential elections. Mr Khafafa is Vice Chairman, Kenya-Turkey Business Council
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