TRIBALISM: RAILA’S FAILED STRATEGY
In discussions with friends, I have always argued that it is near impossible for Raila to win elections in Kenya because he is always going against the state. I have looked at strong men like Paul Biya of Cameroon, Al Bashir of Sudan, Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Is it possible to win an election against such people despite strategic dearth and dexterity? Would the opposition have won against Moi in 2002 had he not chosen to step down?
Raila, the enigma of Kenyan politics, the man I have lived to admire, has failed and will never be the president of Kenya. Despite my intellectual peers’ contrary opinions, I believe Raila failed because of the state machinery factor in his opponents strategies. Despite this consolation, I have to stop looking away and face the naked King. I do this with a heavy heart but the truth has a way of carrying the heaviness away.
Raila Amollo Odinga will never be the president of Kenya because his strategy was premised on tribalism in Kenya as opposed to statesmanship. Is Raila a tribalist? Am I, his follower, a tribalist? Are you his opposer a tribalist? We all, including Raila, have bought into the rhetoric that Kenya is a tribalist country. Along those lines, for long Raila has crafted his strategy; in 2007 it was 42 tribes against one tribe and in 2013 it was the rest against two tribes.
In 2002, Mwai Kibaki became president partly because of principle. I believe people did not vote on tribal lines but against the status quo. Unfortunately, Kibaki’s win was interpreted to have been the genius of tribal chiefs rallying their people. This has been Raila’s strategy since then; rally majority of the tribes against the major tribe. This strategy failed to work because Raila’s opponents focused on what really matters i.e. the electoral institutions and state machinery. While Raila focuses on whipping emotions, around the issue of historical injustices and ethnic inequalities, his opponents have always used the carrot (bribery even to the extend of bribing some contenders that can split the vote) and electoral manipulation as a strategy.
Was Raila wrong in employing the ethnic mobilization strategy? From a Machiavellian point of view, the strategy served him well and there is every indication that he won the 2007 election. However, is such a strategy in the best interest of Kenya? Definitely it can not work; this is the reason why people love Raila and later come to hate him completely. I keep wondering, isn’t Raila just a master of populism but a very poor strategic thinker? He had the 2013 elections to loose but rather than focus on the details of winning the election, he just rode on or flew with the wind.
Why are we as Kenyans so ethnically violent; we only think negative whenever we consider ethnicity? I am convinced that ethnic polarization is a product of political strategies like the one employed by Raila over a long period of time. Raila and his troops have focused the country on identifying and feeling bad about ethnic inequalities. Consequently, we are a country that is fully focused on ethnic imbalances. Everywhere in Kenya, any thought and discussion on ethnic landscape only serves to generate enormous negative energy that kills hope while funneling hatred.
Negative ethnicity is not just hot air; it has thrived because meritocracy and inclusion has not guided government operations for a very long time. For long, government appointments are clientilistic and patronage oriented. Government appointments have been used to reward loyalty and empower own people. It is thus not surprising just by knowing the ethnicity of the minister or cabinet secretary, one can accurately predict the ethnicity of majority employees in that ministry. To succeed in Kenya, one has to align self with a tribal chief; lucky are those who have tribal chiefs running the state, they get favors directly from the state. Land is hived off forests and they are awarded public land without consideration. They are appointed into state offices and they receive all major tenders in government.
All said and done, the success of Jubilee regime will be measured in terms of how well they heal our nation. Nation healing requires that we generate enough reason to jump, celebrate and be happy to be Kenyans. To start moving towards this, Kenyans have to begin to see a professional government. The government should focus on telling us the story of a great Kenya. It is so sad that when UHURUTO are addressing the public somewhere, they are in a combative mood. They ask Raila to shut up and yet in each of their meetings, they pour vitriol directed at him and by extension his followers.
If Raila were to groom a successor, someone that would take out Jubilee in 2017, then he has to begin building a wave around what is good and positive in Kenya. We need to see a statesman in the making. We, the masses, want to see a man willing to die for us through a non violent but constructive resistance to the excesses or omissions of the Jubilee government. Instead of crying wolf about ethnic inequalities, we need to see an opposition that is using the judiciary and parliament to make right what has gone wrong. Where Jubilee is doing right, we need to see an opposition that celebrates with the rest of Kenyans and demonstrates that if it were in power, it would have done better in a certain way.
GOD BLESS KENYA