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Mr. Odinga’s political odyssey since 2007 and current fortunes is a tale of a man who has lost his mojo!

Posted by African Press International on March 1, 2013

  • By David ochwangi
All else being equal, Prime Minister Raila Odinga would have easily won Monday March 4 elections and become Kenya’s 4th President – after all half of the country once believed that Mr. Odinga was robbed of victory in 2007 and this would be the moment to write the injustice and restore to him what rightfully belongs to him. However, even a perfunctory review of Mr. Odinga’s political odyssey since 2007 and current fortunes is a tale of a man who has lost his mojo, caught up with age, made up several critical mistakes over the last 5 years and lost his once colossal support as a consequence. There is no doubt that Odinga is still a formidable adversary to his political opponents but his potency has been severely eroded in the five years he has been the Prime Minister. Here are some of the reasons why he will not win next Monday.
  • i. Odinga has lost support he once enjoyed among major voting blocks, specifically in Rift Valley among the Kalenjins and Western among the Luyhas. First, was virtually tied with Kibaki in 2007, his margin of loss in 2007 was very slim, a mere 200,000 votes less than Kibaki. In 2013, Raila has lost more support than he has gained, way more than the 200,000 he needed to close the gap. Both losses were avoidable, especially in voter rich Rift Valley.
    Kalenjins, led by Ruto distrust Odinga because of his alleged betrayal of the community when he fell out with William Ruto and the eviction of poor peasants from the MAU. Odinga mishandled the evictions and his recent attempt to resettle the peasants was a little too late because it came across as an insincere political ploy to win votes and the locals were being treated as political pawns. Needless to say, he failed to win back that critical constituency. The most telling sign of the depth of Raila’s loss of support in Rift Valley was in 2010. Mr. William Ruto who engineered Mr. Odinga’s victory in the community almost to every voter in 2007, led the community to vote against the new constitution, clearly the man still has a lot of sway in Rift Valley which translates into at least a Million votes. So formidable is Ruto’s dominance among the Kalenjins that once Raila supporters such as Roads Minister Franklin
    Bett as abandoned his parliamentary run to avoid embarrassment at the polls.
    Among the Luyha, Mudavadi’s split from Raila also means Raila will lose plenty of votes, after all, the country is still polarized along tribal lines whether we like it or not. Raila hasn’t filled the deficit by any replacement of the votes he lost both in Rift valley and Western, if anything he has hemorrhaged even much more support.
  • ii. For each of the PENTAGON members who left his 2007 coalition it will cost Raila votes on Monday and the last I checked, practically every one of them left. William Ruto, Norman Nyagah, Charity Ngilu, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi– all of them left. This is a sign of a man who is not trusted even by the closest of associates. They accused him of all sorts of malfeasance including being undemocratic, dictatorial and untrustworthy. Raila failed to replace those folks with equally influential leaders and as a consequence his once formidable national party of ODM was relegated to a regional party that needed a coalition of several others including that of his onetime arch-enemy Kalonzo Musyoka’s WIPER party. The 

 

  • point is ODM and Prime Minister Raila are in a much weaker position than they 

 

  • were in 2007.

 

 

  • iii. The stigma of the 2007 PEV still remains and hangs on the Prime Minister like a tick. Whereas PNU, the protagonist party considered equally responsible for the PEV is practically non-existent, ODM has stayed on albeit also much weaker. Whereas this resilience is admirable it comes at a price, the vestiges of violence have attached to ODM as we witnessed over the years particularly during the nominations. Each violent act (and there were
    several) by ODM reminded Kenyans of the PEV and scared away would be supporters.
    From stoning Raphael Tuju, manhandling Miguna Miguna to several instances of stone throwing and even murders during the nomination in ODM simply means ODM has not shunned its violent ways. Even recent campaign trails across the country have been marked with endemic violence and Raila doesn’t seem to be in control anymore. People seem to have lost respect for JAKOM even in his own backyard of Luo Nyanza, in Homabay, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, etc. These episodes were unheard of before 2007 PEV but now they are commonplace and synonymous to ODM.
  • iv. Raila has failed to live up to his well-crafted image of a democratic leader. This was very pronounced in the recently concluded primaries/nominations of candidates for elective office. ODM’s nominations exercises were mishandled worse than in 2007. The Prime Minister was accused of imposing his family and relatives on the electorate, from his brother Oburu Odinga, his cousin Jakoyo Midiwo, to his sister and many other close relatives and friends. It got so bad in Luo Nyanza that for the first time the folks in Luo Nyanza openly rebelled against Raila Odinga, something that would be unfathomable a few years ago. The Prime Minister was accused of nepotism and imposing his will on the people and this further hurt his chances on March 4, even after he tried to delink himself from the shenanigans, damage was already done.

 

  • v. The Tyranny of Numbers truth be told Mutahi Ngunyi’s assessment about the numbers was spot on. The Prime Minister can only ignore him at his own peril. Kenya today remains an ethnically polarized society. Not ideal but it is what it is. Large blocks in Central Kenya
    (GEMA) will follow traditional voting patterns and vote in large numbers for Uhuru. Add to that the Rift Valley vote that left Raila and a split primarily between Raila and Uhuru in the rest of the country and Uhuru emerges the clear winner, if not straight up in round one, certainly in round two. 
  • vi. A dismal development record, The one good thing Raila has going for him is a good campaign machine that amplifies and embellishes a lot. To the common voter, Raila was responsible for the new constitution (factually untrue), infrastructure, expanded democratic space, hospitals, CDF and just about everything that is right in Kenya. The problem is nobody can back up these claims, if you ask the people of Kibera one simple question, “ are you better off or worse off today with Raila Odinga as your leader over the last 20 years”? The answer would be “NO”! On the other hand, if you ask the folks in Katanga the same question about Peter Kenneth, they will tell you “YES”! Raila talks but his performance is way lagging. If he has failed to improve the lives of the Kibera residents for as long as he has been their leader, how will he improve the country as a whole?
  • vii. And then there is the small matter of the ICC. All the candidates have taken advantage of Mr. Kenyatta’s circumstances at the ICC for political mileage but none more so than his closest rival Raila Odinga. Mr. Odinga is a good man, I have no doubt he means well for Kenya but his obsession with Uhuru’s case at the ICC and persistent scheming to have Uhuru removed from the race has encumbered and severely hurt his campaign. Mr. Odinga started with calling for the arrest of Mr. Kenyatta soon after the latter returned from The Hague, claiming that Uhuru was inciting the public against the ICC when in fact Kenyatta was seeking public prayers; his surrogates tried repeatedly to cause civil unrest so they can blame Uhuru. Soon thereafter Odinga’s cousin Jakoyo Midiwo claimed that Uhuru had
    plotted to assassinate Odinga in two weeks; of course that was a lie. Then it was Gitobu Imanyara’s turn- he told the nation that Mungiki waylaid him on his way home at night and forced him to sweat allegiance to Uhuru Kenyatta three times while facing Mount Kenya, all these ruses were designed to bait the ICC into issuing arrest warrants against Mr. Kenyatta and to accelerate the trial date to remove Mr. Kenyatta from contesting the presidency. The ICC caught on to these diabolical schemes and wisely removed itself from the mix, it refused to issue arrest warrants and instead set the trial date after the elections. After these plans failed, these folks then went on to plan 1000 and tried to use a yet to be enacted law under chapter 6 of the constitution on account of Uhuru’s integrity, the case was filed by the same civil society groups who coached and bribed Mungiki witnesses to bear false witnesses against Uhuru at the Hague. In short, the failed to stop Uhuru because the court refused to be politicized even with the Chief Justice Willie Mutunga inserting himself in the politics the with unproven claims by that Mungiki threatened the courts with death if they ruled against Uhuru, I mean the brazenness of these officials to smear Mr. Kenyatta is breathtaking. If it is true that Justice Mutunga used his position to advance a political agenda of any of the candidates, it would be yet another unmitigated misuse of office and the judiciary and I will leave that alone that for now. My point is that Raila squandered a great opportunity to close the deal with Kenyans by focusing his energies of tearing down Uhuru Kenyatta. I think that Raila, with his great oratory skills and infectious charm that connects with ordinary folks should have used it to promote his own vision and promote or defend his record in government and avoid disparaging Uhuru at every turn. He took the exact opposite route instead and co-opted a lot of people along the way, that strategy has failed miserably at every turn and in fact helped Mr. Kenyatta tremendously.
  • Raila could have closed the loose ends on issues such as infrastructure, defend his development record in Kibera, explain to Kenyans how he would end nepotism while defending his own record on the same. He could have tried to democratize his ODM and stave off the kind of rebellion against him from his own hometowns for trying to impose his family and friends on the people. He should explain why chaos seem to follow him all over he goes and why folks seem to have lost confidence and respect for him, why he can’t seem to keep any friends for long coalition together and why the ODM Pentagon broke up? He could have told us how he will end corruption and defend the vice in his own office for such things as the maize scandal and Kazi kwa Vijana. He chose not to and that will cost him the election.
 End
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