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Raila and Ruto must rein in their troops to avert chaos

BARRACK MULUKA
By Barrack Muluka | November 12th 2021
Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a past event. [File, Standard]

The season of anomie is here, again. They say the flute is the curtain-raiser to the drums and the dance. When the clouds begin to gather, the rain is not too far off.

Deputy President William Ruto’s motorcade has recently been stoned at least twice, once each in Busia and Kisumu.

ODM leader Raila Odinga has held successful meetings in Eldoret and parts of Mt Kenya. What has not been told, however, is that he often came across what bordered on violent resistance in some places. 

It is perhaps the official policy in the media that they will bury their collective head in the sand about political violence, except when it completely goes beyond the pale.

They do not want to alarm the country and the world. Certain levels of breakdown in social standards and values are, accordingly, tolerable. We can keep quiet about them.

Yet, our people say, you cannot cover fire with your hand, no matter how small the flame may appear. Dangerous conduct must be nipped in the bud. Political violence is easily the worst in the class. Left to mature, it burns up countries.

Eternal vigilance is the clarion call. The merchants of violence must be called out by name, and be stopped. We have been there before. Did we take any lessons? How do we explain gleeful replays of dangerous rhythms? They begin with divisions into two irreconcilable political camps. Nothing wrong with that.  Such is the nature of political competition. But, soon, competition morphs into hostility.

Hostility gives way to enmity. Enmity takes on an inter-ethnic character. The country is zoned into personalised and tribalised political spaces. You stray out of your space at your own risk and peril.

Hence, in the past, Presidents Moi, Kibaki and Uhuru, did not campaign in Luo Nyanza, because it was designated a no-go zone for them. And the political opposition dared into parts of Rift Valley and Mt Kenya at great risk. 

It would appear that nobody, apart from Baba Raila Odinga, is welcome into this space. ODM’s Jimi Wanjigi was stoned here, not so long ago. After Ruto, we don’t know who will be next. And after that, someone else is going to zone off other parts of the country.

It should not be allowed, regardless of what spins the official government spokesperson Bruno Shioso, wants to think up. The factors and persons behind the violence must be truthfully pointed out. Reprobates must face the law. Oguna is obliquely saying, “It is up to you. We told you there would be violence. But you still went there.” Is this what the government and speaking for it is about?

Political violence must be addressed, without any “buts and however.” It does not matter that it is Raila or Ruto who are perceived to be behind it, or that they seem to be the beneficiaries.

In the case of Kisumu this week, ODM legislator, Babu Owino (Embakasi East), took to Twitter to congratulate people he called, “Kondele Defence Forces (KDF)” and “Jeshi La Baba.”

It does not matter that the footage was later deleted. Nor does it matter that Mr Owino has attempted to claim it was “a fake account.” Nobody deletes fake accounts.

Owino plays to the gallery as a rather reckless gentleman, who has yet to outgrow puerile campus activism. He needs guidance and reining in.  

Raila and Ruto must especially rein in their troops. Whatever else they may be, they are smaller than the country. They will not be allowed to destroy Kenya.

Raila must, particularly, distance himself from the traditional violent notions some people are associating him with, and circulating in social media.

When he uses militaristic language, to urge the youth to “take up your guns and bullets” and “wait for Baba to command you to fire,” he does himself more harm than good.  

-The writer is a strategic communications advisor

www.barrackmuluka.co.ke    

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