RIGHT OF REPLY
By Dorcas Sarkozy
WHY POLITICAL ‘HUMORIST’ TED MALANDA IS WRONG ABOUT RAILA ODINGA
We all love political satire, its the epitome of literary craft, it drives a hitherto stale political narrative right to the digs! We get that. However, political hit jobs encapsulated as satire deserve response and its in the spirit of civil political discourse that I elect to issue a political rebuttal to the able humorist Mr Malanda.
In his rich piece bemoaning the options or choices that Kenyans are presented with in each election cycle, Mr Malanda decided to weigh Mr Odinga and real presidents (former and present ) on the same scale.
He did this with little regard to commonsense rules that dictate that empirical data used in gauging leaders must be homogeneous. Its political malpractice to invoke indices that are used in gauging a sitting President who has all the trappings of power to gauge a leader who has never enjoyed any real executive leverage. Its a classic case of comparing apples to oranges. Allow me to take a detour and respond to individual charges levelled against Raila Odinga the CORD leader and Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister.
Mr Malanda uses colourful prose to slam Raila as a ‘naive’ politician who allowed himself to be outmaneuvered by a “sickly Kibaki,” a man derided by his community as a “coward.” Malanda’s premise is shallow at best and baseless at worst. Here is why: Raila the PM was largely a ceremonial PM, Kibaki, after stealing RAO’s victory by the barrel of the gun, reluctantly agreed to a power-sharing agreement that saw RAO’s side get watered down ministries while Kibaki kept the juicy ones on his PNU side. RAO had no choice but to agree, the country was burning, lives were being lost and an African President had refused to handover power and was ready to sink the country! RAO did what he did in the interest of Kenya. If allowing people to die because you have refused to handover power is something to sing about, then Malanda is free to shower Kibaki with all the accolades. Raila is okay.
‘General Kerugoya,’ as Malanda avers was coward enough to bag his community’s votes in two consecutive elections and when the polls were disputed, to a man, they rallied behind the ‘coward’. I would like to be that coward !
He further alleges that Raila leads a “shambolic political outfit.” ODM is the largest party in Kenya. While party elections have been a challenge like in the Kasarani case, ODM remains the only party to ever carry out countrywide party elections in 2006. Fast forward to 2015, ODM has been carrying out party elections countrywide. Briefcase Parties like TNA and URP are now being harangued into yet another new party by the name JAP. Just like Kibaki improvised PNU to take on ODM. The common denominator remains the same: Raila leads the most popular, largest and strongest party in Kenya.
Moreover, ODM boasts a national outlook while TNA/URP/JAP are sorely regional parties that exist for political expediency purposes and are dumped after every election cycle.
The satirist talks about Raila’s reform credentials in a tongue-in-cheek fashion by bringing in Kalonzo and Wetangula in the fray. Of course, the intention is to neutralize RAO’s reform gravitas by insinuating that by having Kalonzo and Wetangula, somehow, RAO’s credentials magically sublime! Leadership is about integration and cohesion. Working together for the greater good and if the formula to achieving that is by tapping brothers from the ‘other’ side, so be it. How this dilutes RAO’s reform bona fides is beyond my pay grade!
The writer dives into the murky waters of political algebra by bringing the 2007 exit of Kalonzo and the 2012 Mudavadi exodus. His point? They both left with hundreds of thousands of votes that, in his view, cost Raila the Presidency! Geez! Where was this guy in 2007 when RAO had a commanding lead only to for Kenyans to be treated to the most outrageous political robbery in the history of elections. At least in 2013, the electoral fraudsters were more sophisticated; they went ‘dot com’ and built a fibre optic system to manipulate, they involved servers and mathematical formulae ( the one that had the margin stubbornly at 500,00 votes no matter how many votes came in from RAO strongholds), in short, the rigging was scientific as opposed to the clerical manipulation that was witnessed in 2007. Mr Malanda, prism is built on the notion that the elections were certified as free and fair.
The political ‘satire’ had some record lows even in comedy. He referred to Raila as Legio Maria adherent who never saw a religious fete that he didn’t like. From munching on Iftar with Muslims to being baptised by prophet Owuor to bla bla bla. Politicians looking to lead a nation must embrace all religions and all cultures because a President is a president of each and every Kenyan regardless of his or her religion or culture. But the author saw no wrong when other leaders do the same. It’s only a taboo when RAO does it.
Lastly, the able writer attempts to go for the jugular with a reference once reported by the whistleblower Wikileaks to the effect that Raila has poor managerial skills and has a knack for shedding talent. The good thing about this is that Wikileaks is not an exclusive club, the information is in the public domain and as such, curious readers can easily go and feast on the cables. The reference is with respect to what Dr Sally Kosgey told the then US Ambassador to Kenya Mr Rannenberger. Dr Kosgey said that Raila is where he is because of his political talent and that he is also a poor manager. Fine, nobody disputes RAO’s talent but just because Kosgey said that RAO has poor managerial skills doesn’t make her statement a truism or Gospel.
RAO runs a billion shilling mega company in Spectre International, how he has managed to grow that company into market dominance and profitability requires excellent managerial skills. Dr Kosgey might want to look into that before making a sweeping statement. Remember, RAO juggles business and national affairs. Another statement was made by the then RAO’s arch nemesis the late John Michuki, who told the ambassador that RAO should not be President. Anybody who expected Michuki to praise RAO needs psychiatric evaluation.
In conclusion, RAO remains the political pulse of our nation, when he speaks, the country listens and when he barks, the sounds shake even the mightiest. Its for this reason that the government has an almost crazy obsession with the person of RAO. When the President went to Uganda and struck a clandestine sugar deal, its RAO who raised the alarm and the country took the cue.
When the NYS was being used as a looting instrument, its RAO who raised the alarm, when the Kibaki adminstration introduced mercenaries (Artur brothers), its RAO who raised the alarm and just fresh from his Korean trip, he unpacked the dire fiscal quagmire that the Jubilee adminstration is presiding over and gave empirical data to buttress his assertions.
In short, RAO’s political and leadership aptitude dwarfs those in the category dichotomized by Mr Malanda. RAO is a cut above the rest, a political leader par excellence and the author ought to be in the know that its preposterous to paint him with the same brush.