In our setting, it would appear that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Several issues this week remind us of this unrelenting adage.
The State security apparatus surmons an ODM activist, Eliud Owalo, who was Raila’s aide and questions him on claims of a plot to destabilise the Government through the use of an outfit called March 4 Movement that they said planned to use our youths to cause chaos.
The CORD politicians immediately react angrily by accusing the Jubilee Government of repressive tactics of yesteryears, whose target they said was their leader, Raila Odinga. They said targeting Owalo was but the setting for a bigger plot against their leader.
Immediately after, a Jubilee minister is heckled by crowds at a major Kisii funeral for 11 students who perished recently in a tragic road accident and which was graced by Raila. The President skipped the event but Raila did not miss the opportunity to take a swipe at the Government, accusing it of vengefulness, entrenching tribalism and discrimination. Jubilee swiftly responded by accusing Raila for fomenting their Kisii debacle through ‘hired goons’, and for ‘forever moaning lack of recognition’, and demanded he returns fleets of vehicles he had retained.
Earlier in the week, Raila had stated in an interview that his title is that of ‘prime minister’ since there has been none after him. CORD reacts again by rubbishing the Spokesman’s remarks, accusing him of politicking in breach of Chapter 6 of the Constitution, and they lamented about the usual ‘nusu mkeka’ issues.
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As if that was not enough, more old stuff played out again. National Assembly MPs from Rift Valley region called a press conference to condemn the Bomet Governor, Isaac Ruto, accusing him of undermining the Jubilee Government, and demanded that he should resign from the coalition or risk being expelled.
Ruto had earlier attended a fundraiser in Homa Bay County and urged the Government to be tolerant and desist from harassing Raila’s aide. He also chided the Jubilee leadership for lack of commitment to devolution. The Governor responded sharply to the MPs, accusing them of ‘sycophancy and attempting to return the country to the repressive Kanu days of Kariuki Chotara’. The local county assembly throws its weight behind the Governor who has in recent days demanded that a referendum be held to amend the Constitution to strengthen devolution.
And the by-election of Makueni senate seat provided further fodder for our political leaders to remind us of the past once again. CORD had accused Jubilee of running the IEBC as its party after Jubilee had successfully blocked Kethi Kilonzo’s candidature. Due to pressure of time, IEBC failed to print ballot papers with Mutula Kilonzo Jnr’s name, and opted to improvise. The Opposition party charged that the Government wanted to rig the election. Jnr went ahead to win the seat.
In democracies, these exchanges between the Government and the Opposition is not unusual. However, our situation is different, at least for now. The country has serious socio-economic issues to deal with, including the critical issue of implementing the Constitution. The Jubilee Government has to focus its attention on delivering its promises to the people.
CORD needs the Government to get the outstanding issues on the implementation of the Constitution actioned in a bipartisan approach. And it’s not just the Constitution that requires bi-partisan approach; the roll-out of devolution, security and the growing industrial unrest in the public service, among other issues.
The President should reach out to the former PM on key national issues so that we can hasten to address the challenges facing our people. The CORD leader should equally tone down his rhetoric against the Government and seize the opportunity to foster unity for economic development. Let’s quit politics of yesteryears. Ramadan Kareem to all Muslims!
The writer is Mandera County Senator