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There are warning signs that Jubilee team could be sent home in 2017

MAKAU MUTUA
By Makau Mutua | August 9th 2015

Forget all the hoopla about President Barack Obama’s jaunt in Kenya. Or his supposed “non-endorsement” of Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee regime.

Hunters have a saying. In a split second, the prey crosses your path only once to give you — the predator — the perfect shot. Blink once and your chance is gone never to return. Flinch and you go home empty-handed — hungry.

Methinks Jubilee is simulating the hapless hunter who blinked one time too many. I once said — famously — that Jubilee was nonsense on stilts. I meant the yoking of Mr Kenyatta’s TNA and William Ruto’s URP. Some people think I was wrong. But I take a longer view of history. I don’t do instant coffee. I could still be right.

I’ve five unarguable reasons the current tenant at State House will be sent home in two years. First, the politics of the belly will replace the politics of the tribe in 2017. I agree that the Kenyan voter — hoi polloi — is deeply ethnic. You just need to take a look at social media. The tribal bile is sickening.

Even the least among us is drunk with the lie. The most benighted Kikuyu villager keeps on shouting “our government” in reference to Jubilee. Across the country, the destitute Kalenjin peasant thumps her chest and says “we are in power.” But the era of blind tribal sycophancy is ending. Why? Because material conditions will trump false consciousness. Make no mistake.

Devolution is the hot knife that’s cutting into tribal jingoism like butter. For the first time in Kenya’s history, Wanjiku has seen what government can do if it’s untethered from patronage and corruption. Ochieng is asking why he can’t enjoy the same goodies as Muthoni in Machakos County.

Kamau will ask what good is TNA if it can’t build a goddamn road to transport produce to the market. Kiplagat will wonder why URP only talks and does nothing for the sick. The under-performing governors — the majority in Jubilee strongholds — will kill the party. Tribal jingoism won’t be enough to fill empty bellies. This explains the rebellion against Mr Ruto among the Kalenjin in the Rift Valley.

Second, the Kenyan voter is becoming a mrembo [a local beauty]. Every boy (man) flocks to mrembo only to be shunned. You only get one chance to make a first impression. You can’t stammer your way through that first encounter. The 2010 Constitution has given the Kenyan voter that elusive potential — “hard to get.” The mantra “what have you done for me lately” will be on the lips of many a voter in 2017. I would be scared stiff of the Kenyan voter if I was Mr Kenyatta or Mr Ruto. The voter now knows the emperor has no clothes. That’s because Jubilee has squandered the last three years dithering. Mr Kenyatta’s party can’t point to one signature accomplishment — except the Obama visit.

Third, Kenyans are tired of the official gravy train. The demons of Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing have been brought back to life by the NYS scandal. Mr Kenyatta, who appears to personally abhor petty corruption, has been put on his back foot over the NYS scandal. In a contradiction that makes nonsense of the anti-corruption crusade he announced with fanfare, Mr Kenyatta has come to the defence of CS Anne Waiguru of Devolution.

The Opposition has called on Ms Waiguru to step aside to allow investigations into the NYS scandal. Mr Kenyatta’s defence of her suggests the existence of sacred cows in Jubilee. It’s such “untouchables” who may doom Jubilee in the public’s mind. What’s good for the goose must be good for the gander. Fourth, insecurity may doom Jubilee unless Mr Kenyatta can vanquish Al-Shabaab, militias, and petty gangsterism. No one can remember any time when Kenyans were so insecure. I agree that insecurity isn’t of Mr Kenyatta’s making per se.

But the buck stops with him. It’s on his watch, and he will pay the political price if he can’t restore order — and respect civil liberties while doing so. I am on record as supporting Kenya’s push against Al-Shabaab.

That war must bear fruit, or it becomes a yoke around his neck. The insecurity and deadly attacks in Northern Kenya can’t become a daily fact of life in the republic. Mr Kenyatta can kiss State House goodbye if they do.

Fifth, and finally, my crystal ball tells me that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto won’t be an item in 2017. Their nonsense on stilts has crashed back to earth except for window dressing. You can take this to the bank. It’s common knowledge in political circles that Mr Ruto is preparing to run as numero uno in 2017. If not, he may explore an alliance with CORD’s supreme leader Raila Odinga. That’s why Jubilee will be a one-term experiment.

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