Kenya’s Recent Politics and Power Tussle: Who is the Greatest?

Kenya’s Recent Politics and Power Tussle: Who is the Greatest?

Last week was abyss with activity in the East African country of Kenya. There was serious picketing on Wednesday the 12th of July that ended up with the loss of lives and the destruction of both public and private property. The protests were called for by the Opposition (Azimio La Umoja Coalition) chief Raila Odinga.

Last week’s events seemed to be a culmination of previous ranting by some Kenyan faction unhappy with the rather overburdening by the government taxation, which has raised the cost of living significantly. It’s Something which politicians have taken advantage of to mobilize part of angry and hungry citizens to go to the streets. The only issue with the political drive is the mix of agenda associated with the picketing.

Looking at it one wonders whether the people are rioting over the high cost of living or the disappointment with the reigning government which is being accused of too much talking and blame games taken to mean a lack of ideas on how to drive the economy. Whereas these two could be used to force the government to listen to the pleas of the people, politics has come into the picture with another agenda of competing interests lobbying for the resignation of the president and his deputy for failing the people of Kenya.

At the periphery seats President Ruto who has assumed for some time now that the ranting by the people is only politically driven. And that is the danger of the political agenda technically enshrined in the rioting. Ruto and his entourage in a superficial manner acknowledge the rising cost but fail to paint a clear strategy in place to guarantee it will come down.

Given the bad record he has created these past few months for too much talk filled with soo many promises that continue to remain that, the opposition uses that to their advantage to cast a stone of doubt in the masses about anything else he might talk about as a solution.

The president is now labelled a “story za jaba man” (the hallucination stories told by people who have chewed khat). And then he has taken a hard-line stand on the opposition. Well, the opposition in the most honest terms has its problems but castigating them away as perhaps “bure kabisa” (nothing) in the words of the late President Mwai Kibaki, President Ruto seems to have drawn a line that it is going to be a tussle of the bulls. Unfortunately, it is the same citizens purported to be fought for or protected that are losing their lives and properties.

Deal with the people’s issues

To win this war, the president needs to deal with the people’s issues first. He should listen to them and their needs and grievances. It could be that he is surrounded by people who are misguiding him and that could bring illegitimacy to the idea he may want to project out there as a man in charge. He should speak to his generals and start avoiding this blame game thing for past regimes. The narrative has already outgrown its relevance.

Secondly, the president should avoid reckless talks here and there. He should perhaps talk once a week and only when necessary going forward. This thing of throwing tantrums middle left right and centre with his generals makes one think that those are kicks of a lame donkey. In the silence, he should find a way to explain to Kenyans the necessity of the tax increases and give well thought timelines about when things may begin to work out for the better. Meanwhile, he should vividly acknowledge that things are hard and avoid the we vs them blame game regarding the issue of cost of living.

Finally, and just for this write-up, the president should begin finding a way to manage the opposition. This doesn’t include the popular president’s distasteful pact of “serikali ya nusu-mkate” (half government.) It simply entails finding a manageable way to deal with their issues. He, the president, himself should be the main brains behind the opposition management. And it should not involve luring the opposition legislators into government or threatening them, nay. I bet Ruto can ask for some advice if he feels like he is at his wits’ end. I would perhaps help if he solicits my counsel.

YES, to Peaceful demonstrations but NO to anything else

If anything is to go by, last week’s actions should not be allowed by all means. This is not to mean that the people’s right to peaceful picketing should be denied because that could surmount to breach of the constitution. The most important thing is peace in this case. Where there is the loss of lives and vandalism of private and public property by goons, stern action should be taken.

Vandalism and destruction of property should be discouraged and stopped by all means.

To the opposition, make your agenda very clear and stick with the smart goals matrix thing much as it may sound going too deep. Deal with the key weighty issues some at a time. Mixing too many issues often offers room for weakness. For instance, the focus now could be on compelling the government to listen to the people regarding the cost of living. A failure to do so then will form a second basis for another agenda.

Sequentially that becomes a better force to make the government listen because at some point the fear of people’s power gets in and sense is picked. A confused picketing is a lost picketing.

Never a tussle of greatness

Most importantly, the two factions should avoid making this thing look like a tussle of greatness. One thing, if history serves us right, is to never joke with the power of the people about mass action. Sometimes the power of mass action has led to the crumbling of nations and governments. If there is a need to listen to each other, please do. Appreciate where there is fact and if action is needed it should be taken for the betterment of all people.

In other instances, perhaps it is just prudent to ignore some things. Only a fool decides to throw back every stone that is thrown at him/her. The wise takes some of the stones and uses them to build a lovely house which means he doesn’t need to defend him/herself any more. The house does that.

If anything, a way should be found to curb this week’s unrest and picketing. But the bottom line is as reggae musician Nasio Fontaine says in the song Crucial, “things will get worse before they can get better” either way.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at info@dailyfocus.co.ke
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