On Thursday, the country was held in an anxious moment once again. Anxiety at this time of electioneering in this country is anything but unexpected though. What of the unending wrangles that have characterized what is commonly referred to as primaries in most of our political parties.
In fact, the week had been filled by drama.
From the magical governor who went to bed a loser in nominations with results from five of the seven sub-counties in the county showing him trailing his competitor and vice chairman of his party but woke up a winner with a huge margin to residents of six counties who went to the polling centres only to be informed that the exercise had been postponed by over seven days, the week was once long anxious one indeed.
But Thursday’s was the mother of them all. The National Super Alliance, that conglomeration of individuals and parties hitherto in opposition and which promises to save the country from all its problems come August 8, pulled a new one on Kenyans.
A day before, the communication channels of the associations going by the acronym Nasa had gone into overdrive promising Kenyans a “major” announcement on the material day. A communications official from one of the member parties even labelled the Thursday meeting a “historic congress” at the Bomas of Kenya.
Now, nothing major nor historic came out of Bomas that day. Actually, a part from misleading media houses into skipping more important events and news items and disappointing a few diehard supporters, the Nasa brigade was just in its element.
Of course, there were the usual egoistic harangues by the leaders and the attendant ululations from an obviously hypnotized if not paid up crown. But there was little news and no history making declaration.
Then there was the “official” welcome of Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto to the Nasa Principals Club and the subsequent formation of a pentagon.
When Nasa was formed sometime last year, we were promised that four would become two. Instead they gave us five on Thursday.
Not only has Nasa not managed to decide who will be the presidential and vice-presidential candidate from among four egos, they have now added a fifth.
Sometimes, agreeing on a time or place to meet to discuss these issues becomes elusive. One of the four always seems to have something better to do. They are yet to explain how, if they can’t even manage to coordinate their schedules, these four are supposed to run a country.
Quite simply the only thing Nasa has since achieved, apart from notoriety surrounding their now legendary indecision, is their name and now to add Mr Ruto to the bickering quadrumvirate.
However, before people think that this is a strange move, it is imperative to remember that with the trend associated with the leading opposition figures over the last four years, it is actually a good fit for a group with an ever-shifting agenda.
Ruto’s inconsistency and indecisiveness fits well in Nasa. Only two months ago, Ruto said: “The claims that I will join Nasa are incorrect.” Just a few years ago, Isaac Ruto and Raila Odinga were sworn enemies, constantly at odds. Now many opine he has been brought in to Nasa to usurp the other principals in order to shore up the presidential candidacy for Odinga.
One sign that Ruto, Odinga and Nasa deserve each other is the fact that Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani party has now taken to emulating Odinga’s ODM by fighting and rioting among themselves as happened recently in Sigor, Bomet County. ODM is of course the party whose supporters recently beat up their own party Executive Director Oduor Ong’wen, among many other regular pitched battles between differing factions of the party.
Moreover, Ruto and Odinga share more than a love of squabbling parties, with each having a very tawdry past on the corruption front. While Odinga was said to be involved in the very sordid and unresolved Kazi Kwa Vijana affair, Ruto was one of 12 governors on a list of corrupt officials handed to Speakers of Parliament for further investigation two years ago.
Ruto’s alleged crimes, however, stood out, with the Bomet Governor said to have “looted” no less than Sh800 million which has been used to buy property and other investments. The corruption agency is investigating how Ruto allegedly acquired immense wealth, including a helicopter, 40 earthmovers, tippers and graders.
The commission puts Mr Ruto’s accumulated wealth at over Sh400 million and the value of the aircraft at Sh300 million.
Moreover, last year, Bomet County was fingered by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) as the third most corrupt in the country leading to an attempted impeachment of Governor Ruto for gross misconduct, gross violation of the Constitution and abuse of office.
While some commentators are still coming to terms with Ruto’s addition to the Nasa brigade, his constantly changing agenda and allies, intra-party squabbles and constantly being tarred with the brush of corruption mean he is a proper and fitting catch.
Upon its formation, on January 11, Nasa promised to be bigger and better than its predecessors. It has certainly kept the first of its promises and utterly failed by every measure on the second.
There is something bigger than four egos, and that is five. Nasa has at last kept its word to Kenya.
Michael Cherambos is a social, political and economic commentator based in Nairobi.