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President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga were wrong over Kisii funeral service

By Dismas Mokua | July 27th 2013

By Dismas Mokua

Uhuru should borrow a leaf from former President Moi, who visited the entire nation to stamp his authority

The failure by President Uhuru Kenyatta to attend the requiem service for the students killed in the Kisii bus crash and Raila Odinga’s conversion of the same to a political rally was a collective lapse in judgment for both leaders.

Uhuru swore to serve all Kenyans without discriminating when he took office. The President should have gone to Kisii to condole with the community. He cannot afford not to visit any part of Kenya because of political antagonism. He cannot baby sit his political competition.

Uhuru should borrow a leaf from former President Moi, who visited the entire nation to stamp his authority. Uhuru’s father, the late Jomo Kenyatta, erred by not visiting Luo Nyanza because of his fall out with Jaramogi Odinga.

The President must hold court with county leaders to assure those that did not vote for him that he cares for them. He must have delegations paying him courtesy calls at State House.

This sounds rudimentary but it is probably the only way to start healing the nation. The entire nation needs to socialise with the President; Wanjiku must feel and touch the Presidency.

Failure to do so will create room for county governments to start flexing their muscles. in a short time, there could be a gap between national and county governments. Governors will take advantage of the President’s continued absence to create kingdoms, especially in CORD run counties.

Governors have Sh210 billion between them, and they are going to use their budgets to create powerful political bases that will make Senators and National Assembly members irrelevant. The by-product of this will be a situation akin to Nigeria where State Governors can ignore Abuja.

The President has failed to attend two key events and delegated them to Cabinet Secretaries who don’t have the political gravitas requisite for national healing. Cabinet Secretaries, save for Charity Ngilu and Kazungu Kambi, have no mettle for Machiavelli politics. That is how ICT Cabinet secretary Fred Matian’gi received a beating at Gusii Stadium from CORD supporters.

On the same note, it is unacceptable and an assault on decency for Raila to convert a funeral service to a political rally. The Abagusii nation revere the dead. They treat the dead with fear and respect in equal measure. This is why even the death of a notorious thief attracts deference during his funeral.

While it is not hard to sympathise with Raila, he still should have given politics a wide berth and held a separate rally to settle his political scores with the President. It is actually irritating that Raila keeps on referring to a stolen election yet in a statesman’s gesture, he accepted the ruling of the Supreme Court on his election petition.

Raila might want to focus on building a powerful CORD network to give Uhuru trouble in the next elections. But Kenya needs not be in a campaign mode today.  There is a valid expectation that the CORD leadership should be demonstrating that they are indeed a government in waiting. Creating a storm during a funeral is in no way part of leadership.

Little wonder then that majority of Abagusii MP’s, even from CORD, boycotted the funeral service, fearing that they would be associated wit the unpalatable statements. The MPs’ demands that the organisers who introduced politics to an otherwise solemn occasion, apologise is rational. The family and friends of the deceased and poor Mr Matiangi deserve an apology.

Despite the politicised mourning, the proceedings indicated an uncomfortable relationship between national and county governments. The organisation of the funeral was driven by the CORD-led county government. And as it were; the county leadership was more comfortable with having Raila as the chief mourner as they say in West Africa.

This was the beginning of trouble for the service organisers. National Assembly members in Kisii wanted Uhuru to attend. For them, this was the opportunity to give the President their laundry list.




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