The screaming headlines of 17th January 2013 in the Standard, had Mr. Raila Odinga telling you that the 2017 election will be won or lost at the end of the voter registration exercise on 14th February. If it came from anyone else I would have said it is strange. Coming from Raila Odinga it is not strange. It confirms what Kalonzo Musyoka said in his memoirs about Kenyan politics and politicians. I highlighted it in my recent article “Of CORD and Jubilee frenemies and the tales of conniving, backstabbing , liars” .
“…is a dirty game and there is no honesty truth or faithfulness. That only those who are conniving, cunning and liars can prosper”.
I need not remind you that Raila has been running around since 2013 shouting that the election was stolen and threatening about the next one. Yet, using the same argument he is now using and exactly the same calculations, Mutahi Ngunyi had informed the world that the 2013 election had been won by Jubilee when the IEBC register closed on 18th December 2012. Same argument. He dismissed the 2013 scenario. Now he wants us to believe the same scenario for 2017 just because it is him saying it.
Sometimes I wonder whether Raila believes there is something called truth or whether “truth” is something that only he can manufacture and it does not exist outside of him and his imagination. If the argument he is making for the 2017 elections is the truth, then the argument that was made by Mutahi Ngunyi using the same method and logic in 2012 is equally true. This can only mean one thing; the 2013 elections were won on December 18th 2012 using the same method Raila is claiming he will use to win the August 2017 elections on 14th February. In other words, he is a late convert to an old gospel. He is adapting Jubilee’s 2013 method four years too late and one loss to boot. Instead of admitting that he was wrong and failed to mobilize his base to register and to come out to vote in 2013, he runs around shouting that the elections were stolen. Kalonzo could not have been more right.
Raila was making this statement basing his argument on tribal calculations published by ODM’s own Agnes Zani on Page 15 of The Standard of Thursday 24th November, 2016. I wrote about it in an article titled, “For those who refute my claims that Raila and ODM are tribalists, here is your answer from the ODM Secretary General”
Raila’s point is a replica of Mutahi’s. That the 2017 election will be won according to tribal voting patterns which can be determined at the time the current voter registration exercise ends on 14th February 2017. He is therefore mobilizing his tribal base to make sure that by the time the polls close, he has “won”. If that is not a tribalist, I wonder who is.
Raila the Pseudo-democrat
Apart form exposing his hypocritical stand about the 2013 elections, there is an even bigger problem to this claim by Raila. He claims to be a democrat. In fact, some of his supporters commenting on my blog call him the “father of democracy in Kenya” (Dont ask!). He has not denied the label. The basic principle of democracy is that the people decide who their leaders will be by casting a considered vote in free and fair elections. In a democracy, voting cannot be an academic exercise where people cast their votes in a pre-determined election whose outcome Raila would know six months in advance. If this is the case, then it would mean there is no democracy and anyone advocating for a pre-determined vote cannot call themselves democrats much less its “father”. So why would someone who sells himself as the “father of democracy” (publicly) make such an undemocratic prediction? ( All of them make these predictions in private).
I will tell you why.
Beyond this dubious title, he has another one -the father of tribal electioneering in Kenya. Of all the elections done in this country, none was mobilized on an overtly tribal construct than that of 2007. In fact, it was the first to overtly be used to turn tribal arithmetic into a formula of winning Presidential elections. It was one authored by Raila Odinga and his frenemies in ODM and came up with the infamous 41 against 1 formula that subsequently sank this country into civil war. I have consistently said that the political class in CORD and Jubilee are incorrigible tribalists who have no other method of mobilizing the country other than tribalism. That is why for Raila, there is no contradiction in calling an August election in February, based purely on tribal statistics. It is normal for him, just as it is for all the other tribal Kingpins in CORD and Jubilee. These guys are incapable of politics of issues and policies. Their political genius or lack of it starts and ends with tribal arithmetic, period!
Whenever I make this argument, I am reminded by his supporters that Raila cannot be a tribalist because “ODM has almost all tribes”. First, this argument is not true. That is why they are quick to add the word “almost”. In my most recent response to this argument on my blog, I told the writer to restate the statement, “ODM has almost all the tribes in Kenya” without using the word almost. As a teacher of English I would mark the re-statement, “ODM does not have all the tribes in Kenya” as correct.
Secondly, even if the argument was true, it fails to recognize the very simple fact that it is not the number of tribes that you have or don’t not have that makes you a tribalist. It is the fact of using tribal identities to galvanize whatever number of tribes you have. So, someone with 40 against 2 is no less a tribalist and no more a nationalist than someone with 2 against 40. It is not the number of tribes that matter, it is the fact of using tribe to galvanize a political constituency.
The other argument they make is that Raila cannot be a tribalist because he said “Kibaki Tosha”. This is a self-defeating argument. If he said Kibaki was able to lead the country as a qualified Kenyan politician, then the the matter cannot be interpreted with the tribal prism. Kibaki’s ethnicity can never be adduced as evidence of anything, its irrelevant. And if he said “Kibaki Tosha” because of Kibaki’s ethnicity, then you know what that makes him.
The “committed” vs the “considered” vote
A democrat sells his policies to the people and the people interrogate them and if they like them, they cast what in a democracy is called a “considered” vote. This vote cannot be predetermined until the people have cast it in a secret ballot. A democrat recognizes this fundamental principle that democracy is an un-manipulable choice made freely by the people after considering all the options being offered to them without undue pressure, influence or manipulation. This choice can therefore never be pre-determined until the people have made it. This is the essence of a democracy.
A pseudo-democrat balkanizes the electorate along sectarian lines, makes demographic calculations, sure of how a balkanized population is going to vote. He can therefore call the elections even before they happen. It is called a “committed” vote.
In religiously divided countries, pseudo democrats mobilize their faith against others, count how many belong to their faith and call the elections even before they happen.
In racially divided countries, pseudo-democrats mobilize their race against the others, count how many voters belong to their race and call the election even before it happens.
In ethnically divided countries a pseudo-democrat mobilizes ethnic groups against each other, counts how many voters belong to the ethnic groups supporting him and call the election in February, six months before they are due.
A true democrat understands that there cannot be a true democracy and democratic elections on a “committed” vote. They seek to persuade the people to cast a “considered” vote. Pseudo-democrats having nothing to offer the people rely and mobilize people to cast “committed” votes. Besides military coercion, there is no other surer method of getting a “committed” vote than using tribal or religious sectarianism. That is why the tribal warlords in the CORD and Jubilee kakistocrasy are committed to mobilizing the country along tribal lines.
I once attended a talk at the University delivered by Dr. Julius Kipngetich, then the Director of KWS. I remember him saying that elections in Kenya are a waste of time and money. He said that the IEBC should just do a tribal census, declare the winner and use the money to do something else sensible. The tribal census is what Mutahi Ngunyi did in 2013 and called the election. It is what Raila is doing now and has declared that the August elections will be won on February 14th, six months before a single ballot is cast. It exposes him not just as a hypocritical politician who refused to acknowledge the same formula he is now using when it was successfully used by his opponents in 2013. Then he called it inconsequential. Now that he has “seen the light” he wants us to believe it is electoral gospel according to Raila Odinga and we should believe it. Unfortunately, his embracing of the formula four years after he lost through it simply exposes him as a Johnie-come-lately tribalist, not as the Democrat he pretends to be.