SECTIONS

Let opposition get out of angry spaces and face issues soberly

Kenya’s political opposition speaks with palpable fury. Perhaps that is normal for a government in waiting, as the opposition is generally characterised. It can never be happy, till the day power crosses over. 

More significantly, the human factors behind our angry opposition are easy to understand. Election loss invariably leaves you in a bad place. Many do not even want to believe the election is lost.  So long after, they will still blame someone else for the outcome. 

Psychologists tell us that denial is a defensive mechanism. The truth can be painful to live with. Hence, victims of painful situations and happenings may consciously reject reality, as a coping mechanism. Is the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance in this grip?  

The leadership finds it difficult to accept that the alliance lost the presidential poll to the William Ruto led Kenya Kwanza brigade. It variously blames President Ruto, the electoral body, undisclosed Western countries, the Supreme Court, ‘Venezuelans’ and one Jose Camargo. Only occasionally do they come close to self-blame. 

You cannot blame them. They had everything to win the election. The ticket was formidable in Raila Odinga and Martha Karua. The supporting cast was luminary. At the top was President Uhuru Kenyatta and the full force of state machinery. It is needless to talk of super cabinet secretaries and the whole kit and caboodle of politically correct notables.

They had the system, as they said; and the deep state. There was a rich man’s club and a slice of the media. There was just everything. Yet the election was lost. You cannot blame Raila for being unhappy. Somewhere in Luo Nyanza, there were giant billboards bearing images of Raila and Karua. They read, ‘Gini wasekao.’ This is to say, ‘We have already taken this thing.’ Then came the defeat – all the way to the Supreme Court.  It is only human to be exasperated. This is where Shakespeare’s Shylock comes in, ‘I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?’

The leaders in the political opposition are first human and only second other things. They are allowed to be upset. Besides, it is good that they are beginning to speak out. Do they seem, however, to have begun on the wrong footing? Should the opposition base its criticisms on distortions of facts and, sometimes, blatant untruths? 

This week, Raila railed against what he called ‘burdening Kenyans with more taxes, to fund corruption.’ He was referring to proposed deductions towards each of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the National Hospital Insurance Fund.

It is perhaps impolite to say ‘a blatant lie.’ Let me, therefore, borrow from Winston Churchill and say it is ‘a terminological inexactitude.’ 

But what does it matter? A lie is a lie all the way, pure and simple. NSSF is contribution to an employee’s terminal payment, made in old age. It is payable after age 60. About the most anyone could receive is just about Sh250,000, after labouring and saving for 40 years.

Retirees soon discover that they cannot do much with this money. Hence the push for higher savings, through enhanced contributions by both employee and employer. 

NHIF is, as the name says, is a health insurance scheme. Its application is immediate. If you get unwell, you benefit instantly. If you don’t get unwell, too bad. Your contribution supports those who get sick. It is in bad faith for respected leaders to mislead less intellectually sophisticated citizens that new taxes have been introduced. 

Similar untruths have been framed around the cost of living, fuel prices, and other issues. Kenya’s opposition needs to get out of the angry defeat zone, face and state issues truthfully. If not, it risks losing trust among discerning citizens.

Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor. www.barrackmuluka.co.ke