The debate which has been raging for quite a while – and which has now been settled convincingly – on who is the next ODM Leader after the enigmatic Raila Amolo Odinga, has ended. Notice, the ‘after’ in my sentence is jotted in italics, bold and underlined, which should make you return to it one more time before we proceed.
Governor Ali Hassan Joho has won a good fight. In delivering Malindi, Joho laid the groundwork for claiming ODM’s future. It started with standing up to the bullying by the national government in his own Mombasa backyard. For sometime now, a secret war to wrestle the power dynamics of the port county from the governor to the then county commissioner, one Nelson Marwa, has flopped.
When Marwa could not contain Joho, President Uhuru himself got involved; first beginning by buying off loyalty through tokenisms of title deed issuances then, when this failed, ruthlessly turning to Governor Joho’s businesses to weaken him economically in the hope that he will toe the Jubilee line.
It is in this backdrop, of both personal and communal intimidation, that a ‘distracted’ Joho led ODM to a resounding victory in Malindi.
In Malindi, ODM won big in an environment of endless acts of state intimidation and corruption, most of which bordered on impunity and flagrant abuse of the rule of law. Malindi was good for ODM. It starkly reminded the party the kind of mongrel they are dealing with.
For Joho, it was a triple win: maintaining the hold on his people, sticking it once again in Marwa’s face (Marwa got a promotion to be Coast Regional Coordinator because of his disruptive politics in Mombasa) and defeating, politically, President Uhuru’s Jubilee candidate with even a weak, colourless ODM nominee.
Rumour had it that in Mtengo’s ‘weak candidacy’, Joho wanted to prove a political point to the ODM rebels who kept peddling the fallacy that they were elected because they were ‘popular’ candidates. He wanted to remind both ODM rebels and Jubilee mercenaries in pwani that ODM party remains ideologically closer to the people of Pwani than the money-for-loyalty outfit that bought Charo.
In his thank you note to Malindi voters, he said as much.
“I would like to thank YOU the people of Malindi for coming out in great numbers to elect Mheshimiwa William Mtengo of ODM as your member of parliament. You have done a great service to democracy and made Kenya proud. You have shown the people of Kilifi, the greater coastal region and the entire nation of Kenya, that you cannot be bought, intimidated or jailed into voting a choice against your wishes,” he said.
A greater service to democracy it was, for it uplifted the voices of the poor above the pettiness of money politics.
ODM win in Malindi has sent the ‘ODM rebels’ back to the drawing board. The rebels, a group of ODM MPs and civic officials who’ve been lured to defect to Jubilee with occasional handouts here and there, camped in Malindi to support the Jubilee candidate. In the end, they lost. Some, like Kwale Women Rep Zainab Chidzuga, openly wept.
The Orange party is celebrating. The win, unsettling both to the intended target, Jubilee, and the unintended victims – wannabe Raila successors in CORD – puts an end to the myriad obituaries about the future of ODM in Coast and the very existence of the party in the immediate post-Raila era.
That future, now settled, cannot be hypothesised any more. ODM is, will, and shall be. The mass movement is not only infallible, but also now appears unstoppable. The ODM rank and file is happy.
Much has been said of an ODM Party which cannot exist, or survive, without the enigmatic Raila Odinga. The naysayers claim, quite fallaciously, that Mr. Odinga would rather ‘destroy’ the party than hand it over to another leader. With this narrative has been a deliberate peddling of ODM as a ‘Luo party’ or a Nyanza party. In Malindi, the ODM rank and file saw the very survival of ODM in a campaign that was largely waged on terms which had Mr. Odinga as no variable.
In ODM, we have often deliberately declined to discuss the post-Raila ODM for a reason. And the reason is; the debate and the debaters have tended to use such fora to engineer a feckless line-up of sloshed capitalist lightweight candidates with no oomph to steer the party to the shore when turbulence rocks it in the deal-making sea of Kenyan politics.
The more religious ones among us say we do not want to wake up one day and find ODM auctioned to the highest bidder for thirty pieces of silver. We now know that in Joho, and the team of young vibrant people he is assembling, ODM, intact and strong, will live to fight for more days to come. We are not in the homestretch just yet.
We also reject the debate about Post-Raila ODM because we reject the view that Raila Odinga is the problem. That Raila Odinga has irreconcilable ‘trust issues’ with the so called ‘Kenyan enterprise’. This view, which stems purely from recent presidential election outcomes, assumes that someone within ODM other than Mr. Odinga can capture presidential power. Cheap as it is, it reduces the contribution of Mr. Odinga to the democratization -and development -process of our country to merely a contest for presidential power.
In the Malindi win, these pathological dogmas have been defeated. What the election of Willy Mtengo portends is the end of individuals and the beginning of political parties. While Joho, and Kingi, urged Malindi people to vote for the ODM Party, whose polices and programmes Willy Mtengo would seek to fulfil, Jubilee came up with a concoction of reasons to be voted in power, key of which was merely for the people to be in government – reductio ad absurdum!
The most absurd was a candidate flying the Jubilee ticket who told people to vote for him as an individual. Philip Charo lost it the moment he started faking his ‘independence’.
By marketing ODM Party more than the individual, Joho elevated ODM politics to global levels, where mature democracies elect first and foremost political parties then, belatedly, candidates.
We are a social democracy party. We support economic and social interventions that promote social justice within the framework of a vibrant capitalist economy adhering to the fair rules of play in the enjoyment of our representative democracy.
ODM views capital as a means to an end; and that end being a more solidaristic and egalitarian democracy. We in ODM push for socio-economic policies which trickles down to benefit every Kenyan. In short, we don’t leave human beings to the devices and designs of the invisible hand of the market – for we know the market can be auctioned.
Hassan Joho’s ODM is here!
Dikembe is a pro-ODM blogger. Follow him on Twitter using @Disembe.