Raila taking advantage of Ruto's failure to speak to the hustlers

Azimio leader Raila Odinga with Civil Society groups at Ufungamano in Nairobi on April 13,2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Kenya Kwanza has been speaking to the Opposition instead of the hustlers. As a result, hustlers listen to Raila Odinga because he is the only person speaking directly to them and their issues.

Any wonder Raila has easily been dragging the hustlers to the streets? After last year's elections, the government stopped speaking to the hustlers. If the Kenya Kwanza government starts speaking to the hustlers on the issues affecting household economics, the opposition will not haul them to the streets anytime they want.

It is notable that whenever Azimio calls the hustlers to the streets, they have no alternative voice—the deputy president and the Kenya Kwanza emissaries are busy speaking to Raila and the opposition. Is it so hard for Kenya Kwanza to give Kenyans reasons why they should refrain from the protests that have left hustlers and no politician dead?

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian novelist and author of Things fall apart, once quoted the proverb, ‘until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’ So likewise, until the Kenya Kwanza government tells its story, hustlers will always listen to the opposition—and that’s the work of the opposition.

Remember, the opposition is the government in waiting. Their work is not to help the ruling regime to perform. On the contrary, they are hell-bent on disturbing the government and exposing its underbelly while deleting any trace of success therein. They aim to identify gaps in the government and attack them.

For instance, the opposition is capitalising on considerable gaps in the Kenya Kwanza's modus operadi. Amid the propaganda, there are issues of unpaid civil servants' salaries, outrageous appointments, and questionable and lavish spending, among others. It is the work of the government to explain to their employers (the people) why their money is being used in questionable ways. Failure to do that means we have an alternative government that will explain in ways that benefit them, and hustlers will listen.

The other Achilles' heel of the government is the blame game strategy. While this worked during the campaigns, it should be used sparingly and strategically. Every Kenyan knows that the economic crisis started before President Ruto was elected.

This was the reason Kenyans rejected Azimio. President Ruto promised to make life better. Many pundits have advised Kenya Kwanza to switch from the campaign mode to working and to adjust their strategic communication. So, blaming the economic crisis on the handshake is no longer sweet to the hustlers' ears. Remember, over 6.9 million of them voted for Raila Odinga. They, too, are children of Kenya and will act depending on who is speaking to their issues. Consider their feelings.

Therefore, as a matter of urgency, the government should concentrate on speaking to the hustlers. The suffering hustlers are the capital Azimio will take to the streets to consolidate and negotiate power. It is the hustlers who elected this government and rejected Azimio and it is hustlers who can disturb President Ruto to the core.

Remember, towards the 2022 General Election, the four presidential contestants had a chance to woo Kenyans to elect them. Instead, on August 8, 2022, Kenyans, in their majority, as is the doctrine of democracy, elected Kenya Kwanza.

To Dr Ruto, it was a deserved win, having defeated Raila who had the support and blessings of the incumbency. So, as a matter of priority, Kenya Kwanza should first tackle microeconomic-level issues that touch on households, individual well-being and direct consumption.

Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, School of Music and Media at Kabarak University