February 24th 2018

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Uhuru's language suggests he's smelled defeat

Being alive to the emergence of NASA, and the real challenge of corruption that has made most of his supporters lose confidence in his administration, the president is irrefutably smelling a political defeat from far into the horizon.

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 16 Dec 2016 11:54 EAT

Like a wounded buffalo, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched some scathing and disparaging attacks upon what he subtly termed as "external actors" hell-bent on influencing and/or manipulating the results of the 2017 general election. The conspicuously miffed Jubilee supremo could not veil his infuriation against foreign countries he allegedly claimed to be secretly bankrolling the civil society network, under the guise of carrying out civic education of voters.

Well, as predicted, the president did what he couldn’t afford to skirt around: fire a political salvo replete with warnings to his real or perceived archrivals. We don't need a rocket scientist to tell us why the president is, and has never been in good books with the civil society. These organisations have always criticized the government's undesirable style of leadership. They have oftentimes mobilised ordinary citizens into clamorously condemning bad governance. Which, apparently, underscores why governments all over the world don't get along with the civil society.

Since post-independence Kenya, the first time I heard of the nauseatingly disparaging term "evil society" was after Jubilee's ascension to the pinnacle of power. The distasteful term, I heard, was coined by the loyal Jubilee's online attack dog, one Dennis Itumbi, who currently serves in the office of the president.

No sooner had the term been introduced to the public domain by the pro-Jubilee enthusiasts than it got wings to fly fast across the vast regions of our country. Political leaders like the eloquent majority leader of the national assembly, Mr Aden Duale, delighted in the frequent use of the term whenever he intended to get his claws into civil society organisation.

Why, you may ask, is the Jubilee administration having a bad blood with these organisations? In my highly contemplated opinion, the powers-that-be see the civil society as a “convenient political tool” used by foreign countries which have interests in Kenya, principally the United States but other western powers as well. They are seen as convenient auxiliaries for advancing the foreign countries' agendas. This, correctly or not, is the government's perception of the civil society.

Moreover, the civil society organisations have been vocal on challenging the government's poor management of public resources, squandering of taxpayers' hard-earned money on unsustainable 'flagship projects', runaway corruption, and so on and so forth. Something that drives the powers- that-be up the wall!

These organisations plus the media have made looting and pillaging of public resources a tough nut to crack. Whenever the government bureaucrats conspire to surreptitiously raid the public purse, these organisations protest in remarkable ways, including through marches in the major cities, thus raising public consciousness of the government officials' plundering and stealing schemes. Such actions have always painted the governments of the day in negative light.

Thenceforth, it isn't a surprise when the president hurls his unfortunate jeremiads at the civil society. The anti-graft czar, Mr John Githongo's book, It's Our Turn To Eat, presents a clear picture of how post-independence Kenya governments ran the country's affairs, much to the damage of the Kenyan have-nots. Let me not be ensnared into the temptation of shifting focus away from Mr Kenyatta's insincerity, perhaps with 'intellectual indiscipline'.

While the country's CEO is incontrovertibly entitled to his castigation upon anyone, institution, or even organisation, it is equally important for us to read between the lines of his thinly-veiled verbal assaults on dissenting voices (political opposition and civil society). Unless somebody descended the other day from another planet, it is common knowledge that Jubilee will go down in the annals of the Kenyan history as the most corrupt regime, particularly if the mega scandals like the SGR, NYS, the Ministry of Health (Afya House) and many others is anything to go by. The coalition has employed all manner of tactics to save face, but to no avail.

She tried to gag the nosy media, which they scornfully dubbed “pesky media”, through the back-door introduction of draconian legislations, cleverly created a climate of fear in the world of the civil society and even resorting to name-calling of top CORD luminaries, obviously with the sole aim of injuring their reputations. Sadly though, all these have fizzled out, much to the ghastly disappointment and unbearable embarrassment of the Jubilee's political think-tank.

The president, by a colossal blooper, avoided corruption-related remarks like a mysterious plaque. Kenyans across the political spectrum were, with a baited breathe, waiting to hear the president talk, at least for a moment, about the state of corruption in our country, and maybe tell them his strategies on how to trounce the vice. But to our utter astonishment, he never talked anything corruption.

What does this suggest? It is either he has relinquished his fight against corruption or he condones it, maybe behind the scenes.

Being alive to the emergence of the yet-to-be-launched political supper alliance, NASA, bringing together the most influential political opposition leaders like Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and many others, and the real challenge of corruption that has made most of his supporters lose confidence in his administration, the president is irrefutably smelling a political defeat from far into the horizon. He knows pretty well that corruption scandals witnessed under his regime will negatively backfire on him. It will render his political future bleak. He is cognizant to the fact that the opposition will render him one-term president, unless he puts his political house in order.

Therefore, it was clear why he vented his anger on the imagined foreign “forces”, whom, as I had earlier written, were determined to “unscrupulously” manipulate election aftermath, perhaps in favour of the opposition, according to the president. But, even an average thinker knows that this was diversionary political tactic meant to cover up Jubilee's glaring governance flaws.

In his constant prayer, I imagine, the president is asking His Highness to “make opposition leaders, his political archrivals, forget and avoid bringing corruption to the fore as a campaign issue”. In the same vein, the president, in his humble prayer and supplication will be asking the Almighty Father to give him some miraculous weapons for combating corruption, once and for all, in Kenya. Hey! Don't laugh. Stop your gusts of laughter. Who knows, maybe his prayers will be answered in his favour.

Had the deputy president, Mr William Ruto, not incessantly hurled unprintable slurs at the ODM party leader Mr Raila Odinga, I am sure he would have been the most sought-after and respectable political leader in the post Uhuru and Raila era. Honestly speaking, the DP is doing what can best be termed as “self-immolation”, in the deep sense of what I mean.

My unsolicited counsel to him is: “Your Excellency the DP, Focus on the issue-based politics that you often preach to us in almost every social event you attend rather than persistent personal outburst on Mr Odinga. Sir, can't you borrow a leaf from our retired president Mwai Kibaki, who trained his leadership energies to serving Kenyans instead of superfluously immersing himself in the squalid world of mock politics?

Your excellency, you can do better for Kenyans than scoffing CORD leader, the Teflon man of the Kenyan politics!”

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

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