AFTER SABA SABA, WHAT NEXT FOR RAILA?
Saba Saba is here with us and I doubt our leaders are interested in blinking; each of them is likely to put on the straight face and hold ground, of course as the ego dictates. Uhuru Kenyatta is doing well so far; by remaining silent and appearing to ignore he hopes to wear Raila out. Such an approach is described in social psychology as tanking. It simply means you put pressure on your opponent through inactivity or passive response.
Uhuru Kenyatta enjoys the privilege of state control and thus state bureaucracy gives him room for impunity. Raila has no option than to raise stakes and force those that enjoy state power to yield to his influence. From a purely power game point of view, Raila has done well so far; he has characteristically managed to raise the stakes. Uhuru may choose to ignore, but the stakes are too high, just a simple miss step and Kenya could be on the precipice again. All it takes is a simple rumor that what has been doing rounds on social media is actually being implemented. Imagine, what would happen in Kisumu if they got wind that actually their kin are being evicted from Naivasha. We hope that fear of ICC and reprisal will keep all of us sane, even as emotions boil.
Raila is doing what he does best, he is mapping his constituency. In 2005 it was the referendum that helped him map his political constituency. In the run up to 2013, the ICC provided ground for others to map territory and in countering he was able to map his territory. Moving towards 2017, Raila is again raising the stakes. In a high stakes game, herd mentality wins over any other rational consideration. The “us” against “them” syndrome is accentuated when stakes are high. When everyone is polarized, it is easy to indoctrinate to cultivate the hate and to get ultimate allegiance.
What are the likely scenarios? Scenario number one is both Uhuru and Raila become losers. In the most unlikely event, Kenya could go to the dogs again. How this Saba Saba thing is handled could in the unlikely event lead to civil unrest in Kenya. State control over much of Kenya is questionable. With oil and guns in the Wild Northwestern part of Kenya, I would not be surprised if a simple fracas leads to some level of anarchy in that area. In the North Eastern Part of the Country, local clans’ political stakes could also lead to anarchy in those areas given any excuse. At the Coast, Pwani Si Kenya was already declared. Jubilee government handling of land issues and recent imprisonment of Lamu Governor coupled by feelings of marginalization in the area are good enough excuses for anarchy incase of grand standing at the national level. Central is ready to defend their presidency to death and they do not shy away from war cries. Nyanza is always ready to prove that they are not a shove-over; imagine what would happen if say the Saba Saba Rally goes wrong and Raila is hurt? Western Kenya is peaceful but there are pockets of areas where any excuse is desired to lead to evictions. Rift Valley has the presidency and may want to protect it at all costs; however, local communities could easily turn on each other incase of anything going awry. Nairobi is always a battle ground and in this metropolis, we can only hope it does not get ugly.
The seconde scenario is Uhuru winning from the Saba Saba activities. The best scenario for Uhuru Kenyatta is if Raila get to have his Saba Saba Rally without any fracas. After the Rally, it will be Raila on the spot to demonstrate what his politicking has delivered for Kenyans and especially his supporters. Uhuru will have been handed a life-line and can blame all his failings on Raila’s distractions. Should there be chaos, on Saba Saba day, whether caused by Uhuru team or Raila teams, that are quickly contained, again Uhuru will be the winner. The line of Raila as a murderous and chaotic guy will be reinforced from such an outcome.
What is the best case scenario for Raila? For Raila, he could win by Uhuru, which is unlikely, choosing to settle for some form of dialogue. This will embolden Raila and his lieutenants in their demands. Raila could also gain if the rally goes through and the whole nation comes to a stand still. However, this would only be a gain if the after rally process is even more encouraging and promising for Raila supporters. What Raila hopes to gain is to create that wedge, where those not in government feel not just marginalized but agitated enough to want to stand up to the government and demand for their rightful place in the Kenyan society. This works in favor of Raila given it will have mapped out his opposition constituency going into 2017.
Raila stands to loose more than gain if the rally happens smoothly without disruption. Some supporters have the believe Raila can actually force Uhuru out of government. If the rally goes through and nothing changes, Raila supporters will be begin to question whether he still has any real strategies up his sleeve. Additionally, Kenyans are getting tired of empty politicking that leads to no transformation in livelihoods. If the rally goes through and Raila does not get to force some changes out of government, his supporters will sense an early 2017 defeat. The CORD house is likely to begin experiencing cracks as critics question party leadership tactics. Those in favor of Raila stepping down and supporting a new face are likely to be the winners. If such agitation causes a splinter in CORD, then JUBILEE will enjoy a 1st round win in 2017. But the break up of CORD could also spell doom for Jubilee given the ferocious power brokers will have found new Pons by which to raise power stakes.