BY ERIC NG’ENO
If there is one truth I have learnt while observing the perennial tumult of our democratic discourse, it must be the utter futility of warning certain politicians against eating their cake and having it too. One might as well bay for the moon or whistle at a whirlwind.
One of Raila Odinga’s key propositions in the ill-fated CORD campaign was that he was the candidate whose presidency would see through the implementation of the Constitution in full. It was a fervently held CORD dictum, never mind that the Republic’s Watermelon-In-Chief was a principal of the coalition.
Today, Mr Odinga has executed a most astounding about-turn, and become the Constitution’s chief antagonist by a long mile. Initially, his assault on IEBC seemed to be an understandable, even if not statesmanlike bitterness at losing the election. Before long, he was going at the Judiciary hammer and tongs, even calling the Supreme Court korti bandia (bogus court). To bring it all home, he lumped the IEBC, NIS, Supreme Court and KDF in a most delirious conspiracy theory that had even his die-hards wondering about his stability.
Mr Odinga was not done. He recently stated that he prefers the country to revert to a parliamentary system of governance.
As he warmed up to this absurd proposition, he went further and declared that indeed, he has never been in favour of the current presidential system, which he blamed on the Deputy President and Hon Martha Karua. Apparently, they run him over at Naivasha while his PG were nursing a hangover, and he devoutly supported the draft at the referendum because everything else in it was great and, besides, there was devolution. A painful contortion, and a most pedestrian, baby-with-the-bathwater fib, if I ever saw one.
Mr Odinga’s latest outrage went largely unremarked. At a live TV interview, he said that the dialogue he is demanding with menaces cannot take place under the aegis of the present legislative framework. To suit his needs, Parliament would have to be reconstituted into a constituent assembly for the momentous parley to happen.
By discrediting IEBC and the Supreme Court, Mr Odinga aims to de-legitimise the Presidency. But there is a little hitch there. Every CORD legislator, Governor and MCA has endorsed not just IEBC, but the outcome of the last General election. All its members whose election was challenged in the courts not only submitted to the courts’ jurisdiction with alacrity, they emphatically vouched for the veracity and integrity of IEBC and its conduct of the election.
In fact, since the IEBC is a necessary party to each petition, these CORD luminaries routinely lodged pleadings endorsing whatever IEBC filed, and fought tooth and nail to vindicate the electoral body.
All those voluminous tomes and hefty bundles hauled by defence lawyers before courts throughout the republic are nothing but lengthy and lyrical forensic paeans to the virtues of IEBC. Ask Moses Wetang’ula. The only CORD members who have a problem with IEBC are those who lost the election. That is why Odinga wants mass action – the elected members of his party are not animated with his bitterness and angst.
Even so, James Orengo, ably goaded by the woefully incontinent Johnstone Muthama, ominously suggested that one needs not wait for 2017 to take over power. In fact, he has gone ahead and further averred that no one needs an election to take over power. No one in CORD has taken these gentlemen to task over their intemperate and utterly problematic ideas.
In a season when Kenyans remember the aborted but nonetheless tragic coup of 1982, Mr Odinga suggests that the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary are illegitimate.
He also refutes elections as a means of acquiring the mandate to govern. He has clearly run afoul of Articles 2 and 3 of the constitution. He has defiled his obligation to respect, uphold and defend the constitution. He claims the right to exercise State authority outside the constitution. He suggests that it is possible and lawful to acquire power by unconstitutional means.
Throughout his career, Mr Odinga has experienced innumerable defeats, setbacks and reversals. He has never accepted nor learnt from any of them. Except in one instance, he has manfully strived to manoeuvre within the constitutional dispensation of the day. In 1982, anyone implicated in the coup attempt had the excuse that the constitution and government of the day left little room for the actualisation of popular and legitimate aspiration. This point was emphasized by the three decades of attempts at constitutional overhaul that followed, culminating in the referenda of 2005 and 2010.
As a major mover and shaker in the Second Liberation, and especially in the processes culminating in August, 2010, Raila Odinga has no excuse to assail the constitution with the casual vulgarity of his recent deportment. As a candidate whose platform was the defence and implementation of the constitution, his present conduct is obscene.
It is not the Presidency that Mr Odinga is going at. Neither is it Parliament, the Judiciary or constitutional institutions. These are mere collateral damage, much like the unmourned casualties of the 1982 coup attempt, who remain unknown to the world in their hundreds, even today.
No, ma’am, Mr Odinga has decided that the constitution no longer suits his purposes, and the hell with it. When he unilaterally purports to create public holidays, he’s driving his point home: he respects no law. Raila Odinga is impeaching the constitution.
(The writer is the Senior Director of Messaging for the Presidency at State House)