During the month of June the ‘travelling circus’ type spectacle called Kenyan politics went into overdrive. Raila Amollo Odinga, leader of Kenya’s biggest opposition party (the Orange Democratic Movement) returned to the country from a two month long speaking tour of the United States.
He was welcomed to a series of political rallies ostensibly to promote a national dialogue on the challenges that have face Kenya since the new government took over a little over a year ago.
He even went as far as to demand that the anniversary of the mass rallies for the restoration of multiparty politics in Kenya (July 7th) be made a public holiday. Given the kind of sloganeering you get at Kenyan political rallies though, the concept is a bit of an oxymoron.
Members of the ruling Jubilee coalition (not surprisingly, but disappointingly) responded with outlandish accusations of how Odinga’s activities were somehow part of a nefarious plan to take over the government.
That the President and his government don’t need to be dictated to by puppets of foreign masters (apparently, ODM and her CORD coalition partners are stooges of the West), and so on.
Some of these accusations carry overs from the last election cycle; some were new versions of older personality attacks against Mr. Odinga and other CORD leaders.
From then on it has been a back and forth of personal attacks between the two groups, and their various activists and supporters in civil society and the media, as to who was making a bigger mockery of the ‘very difficult challenges’ that Kenyans are facing today, than the other. It was basically the usual noise and bluster than normally typifies ‘political discourse’ in Kenya.
Except for the fact that the challenges that Kenya is facing right now in the areas: of basic security, infrastructure, fighting corruption, tribalism, implementing a new governance system and that elephant in the room called the ongoing trials for crimes against humanity against both the President and his Deputy are not ‘typical’ things to be handled in a ‘typical’ way.
Given the number of casualties that have occurred in the past year from terrorist attacks, and the haphazard way security forces have responded (or failed to respond to them) to these threats, it is clear we need a rethink, maybe even a reshuffle in the way Kenya handles violent crime in general and terrorism in particular.
Given the way corruption scandals, old and new continue to elicit the same old ineffective finger pointing, token investigations and concealment of the ‘big fish’ involved, after the fact. The government and the opposition need to show that they oppose corruption, because corruption is detrimental to Kenya, not just because it gets them an opportunity to take a rival politician/senior civil servant down.
Given the number of attempted impeachments, and court ordered returns of County Governors, as well as various other disputes with the Senate, National Administration Officials, even with nurses and doctors unions over how this devolution thing is supposed to work, there is a real for cool heads to step in and help work out the differences rather than continue a trying to one up one another.
What Kenyans have instead is the same old entrenched positions, gamesmanship, and horse trading as the popular way of handling our political issues. With an actual dialogue, now seemingly on the cards, one wonders what all the noise in the month of June was for.