Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Raila embarks on 'big man' journey

Last weekend’s homecoming parties by Raila served to point to the steadily decreasing capacity of Kenya’s politicians to feel the pulse of their supporters. His purported razor-sharp intelligence network obviously hadn’t prepared him for the booing and heckling by the disenchanted crowds at the stadium when he attempted to defend his coalition arrangement with Kibaki. And without objective analysts on the ground to pick up the signs of a disillusioned support base, he is perhaps relying on our print media’s worn-out descriptions of the Kisumu crowds as fanatical. So with new power trappings in tow, he might just have been expecting quite a bit of worship from the massive turnout. But it was not to be and, courtesy of his restless audience, he ended up giving what seemed like his shortest speech in recent times. For a man who likes to have the last word, that must have been quite humbling. But then again, what can possibly humble a politician, hard boiled in Kenya, whose motives are increasingly coming out as not only self-serving but outrageously short-sighted? As if all that ever mattered to him was to be Kenya’s Prime Minister. Or President.

It is becoming clearer by the day that the coalition agreement he signed with Kibaki was a rushed hotchpotch of a document that is not likely to survive the stresses and strains of ODM/PNU politics. As if it was drafted by first year law students, it is now emerging that it has many glaring loop-holes and grey areas which are likely to occupy our parliamentarians with endless sideshows for the next five years. (Like the crass war of protocol between him and Kalonzo.) Did either of the bigwigs actually read and understand the document or did they sign under duress from Kofi Annan/US? Kibaki obviously saw the chance for a let off and rushed in to buy time (another 5 years) and a deck hand to clean his mess. What about Raila? What was he rushing into? He has been talking himself hoarse about some half-a-loaf ideology to justify his rush into the Kibaki government but last weekend was the Kisumu folks’ turn to tell him that they did not buy it. Did he listen?

Probably not. At least going by his subsequent utterances which displayed his bizarre distaste for dissent. The man has spent his entire political life in the opposition ranks professing its essence and virtues and fighting for the rights of those with different opinion to be heard. Now that he is Prime Minister he wants the Luo to conform to government and discard their ‘opposition mentality’. In other words, the Luo should not question Raila because he knows what is good for them. And they don’t?! And now that they (ODM?) are running the government, development will now come to Luo Nyanza. Is he intending to preside over selective development programs, like the previous governments that tended to sideline opposition zones?

What the Kisumu folks seem to be telling the man is that he is rushing headlong into Kibaki’s bungling ways for which he will take the rap. That he needs to consult the people and quit the ‘messiah’ posturing. Unless he thinks he can do without them, which he probably does, in which case he should keep it just that - a thought.

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