BY ADEN DUALE AND KITHURE KINDIKI
Let us state at the outset that the clamour for ‘dialogue’ by CORD and its handmaidens in civil society has nothing to do with Kenya, or Kenyans. It has nothing to do with national unity, devolution, security, corruption or the IEBC. It has everything to do with Raila Odinga and the fact that he holds no elective office, but wants to steer the country’s political agenda.
As Majority Leaders in Parliament, we are aware of the robust engagement and intensive discourse constantly taking place within the framework of the Constitution and constitutional organs and institutions. All the issues Mr Odinga is canvassing are addressed competently in the Legislature where CORD is well represented, and by constitutional bodies.
Those are structures put in place by the Constitution for the articulation of matters such as Mr Odinga raises. This discourse is not just a dialogue, it is a deep and comprehensive national conversation involving multiple stakeholders and managing the interests of the full spectrum of our national family. That Mr Odinga is not democratically mandated to participate in any of these conversations does not mean that they are not structured. Indeed, it is quite arrogant and un-statesmanly of Mr Odinga to imply that anything taking place without his participation or blessing is illegitimate.
The Government does not work under the supervision of Mr Odinga. The Jubilee Alliance is charged with the mandate to govern, while the CORD Coalition is charged with the duty of loyal Opposition. That is how democracy works. That is how our Constitution works. What is better structured than the governance framework set out in the Constitution? Certainly not Mr Odinga’s unwieldy contrivance.
Mr Odinga has never had difficulty engaging government at the highest level when there was need. During the Westgate outrage, for example, he was able, together with his partners, to communicate with the President with the greatest of ease.
For Mr Odinga to demand dialogue with threats, therefore, is unbecoming and offensive. To tell the Government and the President that they will be devoured by the sword is blatantly reckless, disrespectful and immature. With every careless remark spewing from Mr Odinga’s mouth, more and more Kenyans are persuaded of his unsuitability to lead a progressive, stable, democratic nation.
We are concerned that Mr Odinga seeks dialogue under the pretext of earnest pursuit of high ideals, whilst at the same time carelessly propagating insupportable falsehoods. For instance, he claims that Sh4.5 billion has been paid in connection with Anglo-Leasing type projects, when documented truth is that only Sh1.4 billion was paid following a court order.
Perhaps Mr Odinga exaggerates to diminish his own roles: as Prime minister, he chaired a committee that supervised the payment of Sh5.2 billion shillings to Anglo-Leasing type companies, Sh3.7 billion for the naval ship contract, and Sh1.5 billion for Project Nexus.
Similarly, Mr Odinga knows very well that the Standard Gauge Railway contract was decided upon before the Jubilee Alliance took over government. Mr Odinga was intimately involved in the transactions that led to the contract, all the way to the Cabinet approval of June, 2012.
Moreover, Mr Odinga waxes righteous about terrorism and insecurity, while at the same time openly consorting with organised criminals and murderous thugs. How can a leader purport to recommend dialogue when he is mired is the fetid swamp of hypocrisy, duplicity and shameless lying?
Mr Odinga also claims to be operating within the Constitution. If that were the case, he would long ago have acquainted himself with Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution, which categorically proscribe any attempt to take over power outside the Constitution.
Mr Odinga has frequently articulated a ‘right’ to overthrow democratically elected governments, as an exercise of popular sovereignty. In this, he deceives his followers and defiles the Constitution. His allergy to democracy becomes manifest when he obsessively and repeatedly slurs the IEBC. The IEBC did not reject Raila Odinga; the people of Kenya rejected him at the elections, and he should show respect for the people’s will.
Many of the falsehoods being propagated by Mr Odinga would be avoided if he engaged his Coalition’s Parliamentary Group. Instead of lamenting the fictional billions denied to county governments, he should understand that his own party is in charge of the PAC, which conducts government accounts through the auditing process.
Mr Odinga neither believes in the Constitution, nor in constitutionalism, democracy or the rule of law. The structured dialogue he demands is a fabrication as absurd as it is unnecessary: there are plenty of working structures. He simply wants the structures to be customized to suit his political needs. He wants to be at the centre of national discourse without the people’s permission.
We caution Mr Odinga against propagating dangerous ideas and inciting his followers to embrace toxic, unconstitutional notions regarding leadership and governance. We also urge him to let his Coalition do its bit within constitutionally laid down structures, and to enjoy his break from political leadership. There are opportunities for Kenyans his age to engage themselves usefully in a manner that will build, not destroy their legacies.
The Government is in charge, and is moving consciously and steadily to deliver the transformation it promised Kenyans. It will not be discredited by the lamentations of a person confused by ideological bankruptcy and distressed by idleness.
(Duale and Kindiki are the ruling coalition’s Majority Leaders in the National Assembly and Senate)