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William Ruto, Raila Odinga in battle for elite privilege, not what we deserve

 ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) and President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

That we are headed for turbulent times is clear from the decibels emanating from the political terrain. Azimio boss Raila Odinga has dug in and declared this the “mwaka wa kuonana”.

On UDA side, the threats from Azimio don’t seem to be keeping the President awake. He is proceeding with governing, with occasional doses of high octave politics.

If you visited Kenya from Mars, you would not believe this is occurring in a constitutional democracy, with all the trappings of formal democratic institutions guided by laws and rules that define parameters of our public affairs.

You would find it impossible to believe that six months ago we had an election in which the government candidate lost. The losing candidate took the dispute to the Supreme Court which affirmed the winner. It did not end there.

The exiting President, co-leader of Azimio, handed over power in a peaceful transition to the person he had sworn he would not hand over power to. Thereafter, governors and parliamentarians were sworn in.

Political parties nominated members to the Regional Legislative Assembly and two children of the senior most leaders in Azimio were beneficiaries. The formal part of this process was carried out by the elected President! Four months after all these formal events, we are headed to a season of “Machozi Monday”.

Interestingly, part of the reason for machozi Monday is demands to lower cost of living. Never mind that the highest rise in cost of living occurred when the Azimio leader was the informal co-president.

In the meantime, Azimio governors continue working in close liaison with the President, the same one not recognised as President by their party! This all sounds like a fictional Republic which resides only in creative minds. But that is Kenya. As we traverse these uncertain waters, there are several issues that require noting.

Firstly, every rational being knows the UDA government is both legally and legitimately in office. Nobody really believes those “stolen election” fables. If there had been a compromised election, the evidence would have come out either in the Supreme Court or thereafter.

That hasn’t happened except for the “whistleblower” whose story was so ridiculous it lived as long as Simon Makonde. The threatened war is therefore not about electoral justice.

Second reality. The current President is a tough cookie, the kind that doesn’t crumble. I watched him in 2007 during the disputed elections, in the 2010 referendum, in the 2013 elections and now the 2022 elections when he pulverised a system with deep roots and deep pockets.

He is not the bulliable budging kind. He is probably Baba’s worst nemesis since 1982. However, there is a third reality. Baba is no walkover. He has been in the trenches all his life.

He is most energised when fighting a “system”. Have you noted the dozing days are gone; he has a sprint in his walk. Baba also understands the art of creating, driving and milking populist narrative.

And populism thrives when people are desperate. He also has a loyal following that, while having hemorrhaged over time, has a vibrant remnant. These two realities define a volatile mix in which Kenyans have the potential to lose lives, limb, and property.

The unfortunate truth is that this is not a fight for Kenyans but a fight for elite privilege. If it was about Kenyans, we would be seeing more use of conventional opposition tools to push government to govern right. War would be a last resort.

Forgotten in these drums of war is the reality that it is young poor men who will be slaughtered as the generals await the spoils of war. The generals will be safe, surrounded by state and private security.

Their children will be in various capitals watching the poor die, so they continue imbibing privilege. When it ends, the poor will feel betrayed and go back to their sorry lives. Cry again, this beloved country.

One can only pray that at some point, reason will win the day and the opposition will use the numerous weapons in its arsenal to fight for good governance. The lives and limbs the poor will lose are just not worth it.