A verse in the revered book of Proverbs chides the guilty for running away even when no one runs after them.
This often quoted verse unreservedly speaks to the dilemma of Azimio politicians who feel obliged to explain to supporters why they met or plan to meet President William Ruto.
On the other hand, some poll losers have zealously posted stuff on social media and addressed press conferences proclaiming their new-found loyalty to the president.
In the two scenarios, the common line is they met President Ruto or want to be loyal to him for ‘development’ to reach their counties and constituencies.
Last week for instance, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o was at pains to explain why he visited State House. His rushed ‘clarification’ was triggered by fears that his association with Ruto had cause political jitters in his backyard. Feeling the heat, he came out to clarify.
Same week, former Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia sent out a terse statement expressing confidence that ‘Ruto will take Kenya to the next level’. In humble words, Kimemia insisted he was fully behind Ruto. This came hours to the president’s visit to Nyandarua last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Francis Atwoli was in the limelight during Ruto’s visit to Western. According to the Cotu boss, his engagement with the President has the blessings of Azimio leader Raila Odinga. Atwoli says he informed Raila beforehand that he would meet Ruto.
It seems that prominent Raila allies seen at State House or anywhere near the house on the hill have the onerous task of ‘clarifying’ their intentions. But for how long? When meeting a sitting president leaves leaders with a guilty conscience, we have a big problem.
The election season is long gone. Without doubt, any Kenyan, including myself, is free to meet the president. Being on the defensive for meeting Ruto, in my view, serves no purpose. If the visits to State House are about Wanjiku’s interests, why the guilt and pressure to explain? Let the visits continue. In the fullness of time, truth, if any, always come out.
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What’s happening today reminds me of events of May 20, 1992 when doubts around an Ugali-eating visit to State House left politician Martin Shikuku battling accusation that he was scuttling the opposition in favour of President Daniel Moi. Some say his own guilt crucified him.
Granted, there are varied reasons leaders meet the president. Some could be personal. Whatever the reasons, however, it is crucial to reconcile ourselves with the fact that meeting the Head of State isn’t a transgression. We have one president.
Even in working with him, we don’t have to cheerlead or switch political sides. Working with Ruto can’t always be seen in the context of opposition-government tug of wars.
The coyness in Azimio leaders and its supporters towards Ruto serves no purpose. Democratically speaking, the need to keep the regime in check should not translate into the apprehension we see when the president reaches out to Raila allies and vice versa.
It is equally important to remind Kenya Kwanza insiders that they can no longer get away with ‘pocketing’ Ruto as they would wish.
The bragging about their poll win is now irrelevant. Ruto has transitioned from a Kenya Kwanza flag bearer to a father-figure of the 50-plus million of us. He must serve the nation without favouritism.
The African model where oppositions and government must always be at war is retrogressive to say the least.
Azimio and Kenya Kwanza can find true meaning in making Kenya a better place through harmony and constant consultation.
There’s nothing wrong in visiting State House. Let the two sides understand their roles as complimentary rather than adversarial. For the record, Kenya belongs to all of us.
The writer is an editor at The Standard. Twitter: @markoloo