The hard feelings are coming into play as the homestretch to the next presidential election approaches.
Outgoing chairman of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-Kenya) Prof Larry Gumbe says revenge as an ideology manifests in the form of inconsistency on issues.
|Behind the schemes by the leading aspirants to outdo one another in the race for the top job, the desire to get even with former allies is quickly shaping the battle to succeed President Kibaki. Photo: File/standard|
The latest of such contradictory positions the politicians taken include constitutional implementation, The Hague trials for post-election violence suspects and Wednesday’s boycott in Parliament of the debate on containment of inflation.
According to Gumbe the desire to settle scores gets quite personal and even murkier as Parliament and other instruments of governance are mutilated in the process of realigning them to divergent political camps.
Analysts say the contradicting positions members of the grand coalition have taken on issues such as the Constitution and the trial of suspects of post-election violence are borne out of revenge.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto complain Prime Minister Raila Odinga instigated the impending trails.
They have repeated this message at rallies in their political strongholds that most analysts concur that should they be locked out of the presidential race by the trials, Raila would get the backlash from their supporters.
Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio concedes that revenge has become pervasive in Kenyan politics and informs political discourse heading into 2012.
"We need to make politicians and parties subscribe to issue-centred politics. Revenge and targeting individual politicians promotes negative ethnicity. Economic and social development cannot take place where the revenge overrides nationalism," reckons the minister.
Mr Poghisio, chairman of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s ODM-K party, warns that revenge is dynamite that threatens the future of the country because ideology and issues have been relegated to the backburner. The minister would, however, not discuss how individuals with presidential ambitions relate.
Uhuru’s spokesman, Mr Munyori Buku, says his boss is not inspired by revenge to run for the presidency.
"It is not revenge. Some of these people have come of age. In 2002, there was feeling that Uhuru had come too soon and was set to overtake them.
Today, the stakes are high and the galaxy of youthful leaders want to compete with the others on equal terms. Someone like Ruto has been in politics since 1997 and feels he has the experience and the tenacity to lead the country," says Buku.
Kenyans find themselves under pressure to arbitrate in the vendetta or risk getting stuck in a rut, the craving for institutional reforms notwithstanding, according Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara.
Tussle for supremacyImanyara posits that the tussle for supremacy between ODM and PNU has everything to do with the urge for revenge and the next presidential election presents a chance to exact the revenge. The MP points out that the unbridled desire to get even threatens to upset what was billed as a turning point in how the governing elite and the governed interact.
While opinion is divided on why party top brass disagree on virtually anything, there is a convergence on why deadlock is a byword of the coalition government. Devoid of ideology and deprived of issues, there is a growing perception that Kenyan politics feeds on pervasive revenge.
How Kibaki, former President Daniel arap Moi, Raila, Kalonzo, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru, Ruto, Gichugu MP Martha Karua and their supporters interact is informed by a past strewn with tales of broken promises.
Some of the instances defining the current political situation are traceable to 2002 when the governing elite changed parties and in the process, made foes that haunt them to this day. It is on record how Raila — then Kanu secretary-general — deserted the party after Moi named Uhuru as the party’s presidential candidate.
Kalonzo too has a bone to pick with Raila following his declaration of ‘Kibaki tosha’, which handed the latter the opposition presidential ticket he coveted. Kibaki went on to trounce Uhuru resoundingly in the presidential poll.
The PM finds it difficult to accommodate Kibaki who elbowed him out of his inner circle after he single-handedly catapulted him to the presidency in 2002. Further, Raila has maintained he was cheated of victory in the 2007 presidential polls.
It is also widely believed had had Kibaki not lured Kalonzo with the vice-presidency position, Raila would have been the outright winner of the 2007 presidential poll. Between Moi and Raila there is no love lost after the latter bolted out of Kanu with party’s bigwigs that checked Uhuru’s bid for the presidency. Karua’s bid for the top seat is motivated in part by her desire to get even with Kibaki and Uhuru.
After working hard to enable Kibaki retain the reins of power, Karua was bypassed by the president and appointed Uhuru DPM.
Ascending to powerLooking back, Gumbe says Raila, as the agent-in-chief of reforms for two decades stepped on the toes of his opponents, hence the vicious push to stop him from ascending to power.
A long time ally of Uhuru, who asked not to be named, concedes there could be grudges, but limited only to the rivalry between founding President Jomo Kenyatta and his Vice President Oginga Odinga.
"There is an element of a siege mentality in Mt Kenya region. There is always a fear Raila can galvanise the rest of the country against them. It is not about grudges. It is a fact he did not voluntarily support Kibaki in 2002. He had his interests and it is these interests that are at play vis-‡-vis other potential presidential candidates," says the ally.