State House Nairobi
This is a clean-up piece to remove any doubts that may be lingering as to whether as I have shown Prof. Makau Mutua is wrong in his condemnation of the purported thawing of relations between Raila and possible alliance with one William Samoei Ruto.
In Part I of this two part series, I laid out the case why Raila working with Ruto, if they do, is not a bad thing and is, in fact, a good thing for both politicians and for the country as a whole.
I in this Part II, of the series, I address the good professor’s specific contentions, assertions and arguments.
Let me start with the more easier one to dispose of: Makau says “Let me guarantee this – Mr Odinga will handily lose the election if he enters into a political marriage with Mr Ruto.”
The only thing anyone can guarantee about Kenyan politics or any country’s politics for that matter is there will be rigging and cheating of one level or another.
Everything else anyone guarantees you is nothing but their wishful thinking.
I would rather the professor makes his arguments without any such guarantee because it neither advances nor adds to his very unconvincing case at best he is trying to make against Raila potentially working with Ruto.
When Makau says “it’s clear there’s a political cabal around Mr Odinga that’s giving him deadly advice,” leaving aside what the good professor means by “deadly” advice, he forgets his own advice may as well be rightly dismissed as unhelpful and simply off at best.
I have already noted in Part I that Makau’s attempt to prop up his feeble argument against Raila working with Ruto by invoking heavenly authority in Mark, 8:36 is simply inapplicable for the reasons I noted in that blog.
I disagree with Makau’s contention that “there’s an un-interrogated assumption that this election – like all previous Kenyan elections – will be driven by tribe.”
Contrary to this assumption the professor rightly characterizes as “un-interrogated,” there is plenty of anecdotal evidence on the ground that more and more Kenyans have either already shaken themselves free of this tribalism disease or they are on the way there.
The only object standing in the way for others and trying to exploit the double vices of tribalism and negative ethnicity is variously presenting itself as G-something—mara G7, or now maybe G1 and what have you but only they and their followers believe ukabila is the winning formula for the upcoming general elections.
Raila and ODM, on the other hand, are on to a 47 County Campaign (47CC) strategy pursued on the principle and belief each vote from every part of the country counts and none should be taken for granted let those bent on grouping them under some tribal formula do so but may the better strategy for the country prevail.
The faith and optimism in many a Kenyan leads to a belief it’s not tribalism that would prevail as Makau posits, but the true Kenyan spirit as embodied on those who have shed or will shed the vice.
Professor Makau argues that it’s because of the tribalism factor that Raila is courting Ruto—that’s if he is, adding “[Raila’s] handlers believe that only Mr Ruto can bring back the Kalenjin into the PM’s fold.”
While it may as well be the case that Raila “handlers” believe that only Ruto can “bring back the Kalenjin into the PM’s fold”—a proposition which is wrong by itself to the extent it assumes that Kalenjin are like a hoard of sheep to be directed which way to go en masse by Ruto, Raila and others could actually more accurately be of the view there are any number of ways Raila and ODM can regain lost ground in RV without Ruto and they are presently doing just that and increasingly successfully so.
Makau says Raila’s “handlers” have “panicked because they think they’ve lost the Luhya with the defection of Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi to the UDF party.”
Not sure where the good professor gets information or is simply imagining things but anyone who cares to check would find out neither Raila’s “handlers” nor he himself is panicked or thinks they have “lost the Luhya” vote; if anything, everyone I know is happy and pleased Mudavadi’s defection was so anti-climactic and without any noticeable impact even he must be scratching his head wondering why he defected.
True, those bent on “stopping” Raila will do what they can in their ABR (Anyone But Raila) quest, including propping up Mudavadi and pumping his way all they can in futile efforts to have him shoved down our throats as our next president but in the end, the people’s will shall prevail.
Makau says, “Neither the Kalenjin nor the Luhya will vote like a bloc. Like the Kikuyu, the Kalenjin and Luhya votes will be scattered to the four winds.”
I agree for the same reasons Makau provides for his rationale but disagree with his take that Gichugu MP Martha Karua and Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth “will claim a sizeable chunk of the Kikuyu vote.”
That honor—if you can call it that will go to whoever the Inner Sanctums (Kibaki clique) end with as their ABR.
Makau concludes that, of the big five communities, only the Luo will likely vote as a bloc.
I would also agree with that but add following closely will be Kikuyus and Kalenjins but the Kales will only vote in greater margins as a block in favor or Raila but not the other candidates coveting the vote.
In other words, we shall have either a repeat of 2007 or a split vote where Raila still garners a good chunk of the vote regardless of whether Ruto returns to ODM or aligns with him or not.
While I agree with Makau that only Luos are likely to vote as a block—and who can deny them, I disagree with him when he says that “Mr Odinga should stop ‘thinking tribe’ and cozying up to Mr Ruto.”
This assertion assumes that Raila “cozying” up with Ruto is tribal math politics based; it need not be as a logical case can also be made Raila simply wants all the support he can get even from his rivals and enemies as any politician seeking high office would.
Indeed, given Raila has a pathway to State House that does not include Ruto’s involvement or support, it is less about tribal math Raila would want to work with Ruto than merely being pragmatic and smart about how he goes about charting his course to State House.
Makau says Raila “must define himself as the ‘issues candidate’ – detribalised, reformist, and pro-youth.”
I agree with all that except to note being an “issues candidate” can only but take him so far and I have no idea what the good professor means by Raila being “detribalized.”
If by that Makau means Raila is or has been a tribalist, then he needs to put less sugar on his coffee to gain more clarity of who Raila is or has been with respect to mambo ya ukabila.
I disagree with Makau that “the [Raila Ruto] courtship is a genius political plot to destroy him.”
Makau advances the argument that because Ruto is one of the so-called Moi orphans and the more notorious or infamous at that, and because he led opposition to the constitution, and even more so because of the pending ICC charges against him, Raila’s alliance with Ruto, according to Makau, “would shatter Mr Odinga’s credibility at home and abroad.”
While it’s true and possible many may find such an alliance wanting, even more would understand perfectly why it’s necessary and significant—marginally as it may be, in the reelection effort of Raila.
All politicians, local and abroad will understand exactly what Raila would be doing, if he does so and would do the same thing were they in his shoes and ditto for all foreign politicians therefore nothing to worry about that.
Makau then asserts, “How [Raila] embraces such a politician and calls himself a reformer is beyond me.”
This assertion is a thesis by itself requiring a complete chapter in a book to explain why the professor is wrong but, let me just say being a reformist is not to the exclusion of being a pragmatist.
The two actually must go hand in hand lest there won’t be any reforms to speak of.
I do agree with Makau that “Mr Ruto would not miss a second chance to bury Mr Odinga” but note this will be highly unlikely—meaning, getting a second chance, not the burying part.
However, I disagree with him when he says “hypocrisy and opportunism would define Mr Odinga if Mr Ruto was to become his Siamese twin.”
This is actually an interesting metaphor coming from Makau who should know the metaphor is misplaced.
In order for the metaphor to apply, Raila would have to pick Ruto as his running mate and even then, the metaphor will be inapt in describing such an outcome because doing so, namely, Ruto becoming Raila’s running mate would not be hypocrisy neither would it be opportunism.
It will be smart politics by both the PM and Ruto.
Makau ask, “How could Mr Odinga look Kenyans in the eye – and the country’s friends abroad – and call himself an incorruptible leader? Who, pray, would believe him?”
Makau has committed a fallacy by assuming a premise that is false.
It is not true that not agreeing to work with Ruto amounts to being incorruptible because Ruto is no more corrupt in 2012 than he was in 2007.
The good professor goes on to add, “With Mr Ruto at Mr Odinga’s side, we can expect impunity to reign in the next government.”
Raila can work with Ruto and others to get elected yet continue pursuing his reform agenda unimpeded and unaffected by anyone including those who help him get reelected.
The two are not mutually exclusive.
When Makau says “The new Constitution would be treated like trash – a meaningless piece of paper,” he is describing what would happen if Raila or a reform minded leader like him is not our next president.
Makau says, “I will guarantee something else – all true reformers and bona fide civil society leaders would desert Mr Odinga in droves.”
Besides as noted above being unwise to guarantee anything in politics, it is simply not the case that “all true reformers and bona fide civil society would desert Mr. Odinga in droves.”
A few may but a vast majority would understand the principle of not winning a skirmish only to lose the battle.
When Makau asks “Imagine what he’ll do once in power if he betrays you before the election,” he is obviously once again engaged in fallacious reasoning to the extent he assumes a false premise, namely, that Raila agreeing to work with Ruto would be a “betrayal” when that’s clearly not the case; a few like Makau may see it as being a betrayal but most will not therefore Makau’s slippery slope argument following his false premise is equally off and unconvincing.
Makau seems to go downhill with his arguments from this point.
For example, he ponders the question, “Why then would Mr Odinga do an about-face and oppose the ICC? This may only paint Mr Odinga in an unflattering light – as someone who’d do anything to get himself to State House.”
Raila has not said he is now opposed to the ICC and neither does agreeing to work with Ruto imply or mean that he has.
The two are separate and apart from each other I am surprised Makau is attempting to make a connection that does not exist.
When Makau says “Mr Odinga shouldn’t dangle the ICC deferral carrot in front of Mr Ruto” he contradicts himself because he also acknowledges and declares that “Mr Odinga has no power to make Mr Ruto’s charges at the International Criminal Court go away.”
How can Raila dangle something he doesn’t have?
Did the good professor really think this one thru?
The good professor concludes his piece by noting “Mr Odinga has a choice to make. Is he a man of principle, or a fair weather reformer? Will he bend to the wind for the sake of power?”
Raila has proven over and over he is a man of principle and his reform credentials speak volumes on their own.
He is not about to flip and become someone else at this late stage in his life and especially when he knows so many are counting on him to remain steady and focused on the goal he has been on a life-long journey to achieve and that is completely liberating our country from the shackles of corruption, impunity and tribalism.
When Makau says Mr Odinga’s reunion with Mr Ruto would be akin to President Obama becoming a Republican to be re-elected and that the thought sickens him, he is collapsing two distinct concepts into one and that is, political ideology and strategy.
The two are not one and the same, even though related and impact each other as they must.
Given Kenyan politics is less about ideology, if any and all about strategy, a wiser politician is the one who focuses on a winning strategy and Raila appears to have one in place with his 47CC (47 County Campaign strategy).
This Ruto alliance may be true but yet again it may not be.
Whatever the situation, the goal for those who care about reform and fundamentally transforming our country has to be to elect someone who can best lead us in doing so and that person as it is today is none other than Raila Amolo Odinga.