German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote; “Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise.” These words ring true for any keen observer of Kenyan politics and anyone who understands the brand of politics exercised by ODM leader Raila Odinga.
In 2007, Raila rallied his supporters behind the propaganda of “41 against 1” which in essence meant that 41 Kenyan ethnic communities were facing off against the remaining one community. At the end of it, he created a division between the 41 communities and the one community that had one of its own as the leader of this great nation.
His propaganda was aimed at showing that there was no way that this one community could beat the other 41 in an election. The result of this propaganda is something that all Kenyans would wish to forget as it marks one of the darkest period in our country’s history.
Ten years later, Raila has not changed this approach forgetting that Kenyans are wiser than they were during that period. He and his die-hard supporters are already demonstrating that they will base their 2017 campaign on a “40 against 2” propaganda.
It is unfortunate that Raila, at his advanced age and political experience, is still trying to use this archaic method of “divide and rule”. Of all the issues that Kenyans can unite against, the opposition chief is choosing to rally other Kenyans against two communities – just because their leaders came together and said it is time to unite all Kenyans.
It is laughable that Raila and his brigade think that this can actually stick looking at how President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have employed the wisdom noted by Goethe of “unite and lead”. Every time the two stand in any corner of this country, they always ensure that they call on Kenyans to unite and work together for development.
For starters, the results of the last election show that the Jubilee dynamic duo won 20 of the 47 counties and more than 25 percent of the votes in 33 counties. Clearly, this cannot justify the notion by the opposition that the Jubilee Coalition was a union of two ethnic communities.
The recent formation of the Jubilee Party also goes to underscore the fact that very many Kenyans take President Kenyatta and DP Ruto as the key uniting factors in the country. The inclusive “big tent” approach by the two since they came to power is embodied in the creation of the Jubilee Party.
The Opposition wants Kenyans to believe that the Jubilee Government is grossly incompetent and corrupt. The president has been able to initiate many successful projects and has been at the forefront in fighting corruption and even asked his ministers to step down which was a first in Kenya.
At the same time, Raila has remained silent on the manifest and verifiable corruption that has been reported by the Auditor-General in counties led by Opposition Governors. For a man who chides the President on the basis of allegations contained in draft reports, Raila should be able to dress down “his” Governors.
Instead, we have witnessed Raila seeking to shield the Opposition Governors as witnessed in Mombasa on Wednesday where he was joined by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho. Raila tried deflecting the focus from the two and instead focusing on an interim audit in the Ministry of Health whose author has said is still incomplete.
The Opposition also wants to create a narrative that pre-election pledges have not been fulfilled. This is also a fallacy as most pledges have either been fulfilled or are ongoing with a small percentage not initiated.
We as Kenyans must look beyond propaganda and mudslinging, and elect a president in 2017 that will look beyond tribe and focus on transforming this country. That leader, is Uhuru Kenyatta.
(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)