February 24th 2018

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

To defeat UhuRuto ‘without breaking a sweat’- this is what Mr. Odinga should do

Truly, this crisis won’t spare Jubilee. No amount of diversionary propaganda can divert the attention of Kenyans who are reeling under the weight of starvation thanks to somebody in Kilimo House’s incompetence

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 21 Jun 2017 16:55 EAT

Mr Odinga reads through a notice advicing customers to pick only 2 packets of Unga at an empty Uchumi shelve

With the highly spirited political campaigns now gaining momentum, it is irrefutable that this is the flawless season of flying political propagandas, massive spinning of lies and artistic creation of emotionally-driven tribal narratives; all these channeled towards achieving one thing-the highly valued political currency that assures  electoral triumph. Many experts are hired to breathe into the political strategic plan their ‘fresh’ air of intellectual substance.

Every political actor worth his or her salt must now be indefatigably endeavoring to pull out all the stops with a view to catch the eyes and win the hearts of the myriad voters. However, not every politician that shouts on the rooftops about what he will do when elected, or the one that is rolling in money-splashing his hard-earned or ill-gotten cash with the intention of creating  confusion among the gullible voters will automatically carry the day. Not really. Hopefully, the  men and women of conscience and untainted character whose past track record while serving in various capacities ,and by extension, the role they played towards the support of diverse community development projects could easily win the hearts of voters on condition that the playing field is free from electoral malpractices.

Yes, across the sphere politics is fueled by propaganda and invented perceptions. Politics as, they say, a game of numbers. Meaning, if one has a greater numerical sinew then it’s more than obvious that he will cruise into victory.

Well, this is what the major political powerhouses – Jubilee and NASA are fiercely battling for. In this titanic clash for numbers, what will separate the wheat from the chaff is performances. The ruling coalition will have to tell voters what it has attained while at the helm and why it should be re-elected. On the other hand, the opposition axis of the political divide will have to lay bare and elucidate what it achieved in putting the government in check, and its brilliant plans for the country and her people. In both cases, the judges are the voters.

My esteemed readers, what I find more baffling and paradoxical in equal proportion is the adeptness with which the Jubilee government has managed to hide its head in the sand, particularly over the MAIZE FLOUR CRISIS. The jubilee’s political spin masters have and continue to work round the clock to ensure that the biting Unga crisis doesn’t gain political traction. They have given all manner of untenable pretexts laced with unjustified warnings targeting those who’re hell bent on politicizing it for selfish political gains. Isn’t it laughable for the powers-that-be not to expect the ‘government in waiting’ as they popularly refer to the opposition to exploit its weaknesses?

Does it mean that Jubilee has had a ‘memory like a sieve’ to the point of thinking that Nasa is so detached from reality that they would not exploit the maize crisis to make political mileage. Consider the statement by the Agriculture PS Mr. Richard Lesyampe, while addressing the media at Kilimo House on May 16, 2017 the PS categorically attributed the shortage of maize flour in the market to panic buying by shoppers. “Consumers should stop panic buying and then start complaining of lack of enough Unga in the market. I assure you that there’s enough maize flour” he said, with thinly-veiled degree of insincerity.

On 13th April, 2017 the government zero-rated maize flour  and the 2-kg packet of subsidized unga retailed at 90 shillings each. Besides this, the government issued a stern warning against anyone who intended to sell the subsidized maize flour at  higher than the recommended 90 shillingsstating that whoever breaches  these rules will be liable to a fine not exceeding 1 million  shillings or a five-year jail term, or both. In fact this is laudable.

This restored our fast declining hopes then  until some couple of days later when it sadly dawned on us that the maize flour shelves are empty. We, the food-enslaved folks, slept on empty stomachs; cursing incessantly in our beds whoever triggered the unforgiving crisis in question.

Kenyans bewailed, groused and ranted in the seemingly remotest hope of ‘miraculously’ waking up the following day into the ‘breaking news’ that the supermarket shelves are full of Unga. Even some people –including this writer- preferred having the maize flour available at whatever prices. “I have been one of the staunchest supporters of this government but because someone within it has ‘dared to vomit on my shoes’ and take me for granted, I think it’s time to renounce my support for it [jubilee]…”  the famished gentleman complained bitterly amidst a chorus of approval from his peers, who were equally frustrated. Question is, are the rest of the Kenyans across the political divide feeling the sweltering heat of the seemingly never-ending Unga crisis like the urban folks?

Truly, this crisis won’t spare Jubilee. No amount of diversionary propaganda can divert the attention of Kenyans who are reeling under the weight of starvation – thanks to somebody in Kilimo House’s incompetence.

Now, what can you say of a situation where it took the leader of the opposition, Mr. Raila Odinga to visit one of the supermarkets [Uchumi] with the view to confirm if truly the shelves are empty of the maize flour? That’s when the government starts groping and searching for ‘elusive’ answers, excuses and narratives in its desperate attempt to save political face. The ‘honorable’ guys from Kilimo House who have, in many instances, been caught with their trousers down – as predicted - drifts into defensive mode when hard-pressed to explain why it took long for the government to address the serious issue of maize crises, especially given that experts had earlier warned of a looming food crisis. Isn’t forewarning someone one of the surest way of forearming him or her?

Unga revolution is real, even UhuRuto are cognizant of it. If you think am throwing dust to your eyes – honestly ask yourself why there’re persistent emergence of wild allegations of ‘electoral pre-rigging schemes’ involving indirectly the poll referee [IEBC], and the recent claims of military involvement. Add that to the DP’s outlandish utterances like: “If we won the election when ‘we were in the bush’ [I don’t know which bush Mr. Ruto meant] - what makes the opposition believe that they will get this thing…?” Hello? Folks, it is unarguably certain that the politics of Unga [maize flour] will take the wind significantly out of UhuRuto’s political sailing. They will lose sizable amount of political capital. Which underscores why they are issuing threats to those who are politicizing it.

Well, if Raila is to strongly give Jubilee a run for its money, there’s no magic required the real beauty lies squarely behind the miracle sticking to the ‘sensitive’ issue of Unga crisis. Period.

Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press

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