Opinion and Analysis
Power games that Kenya’s elite play
Posted Monday, May 28 2012 at 20:37
Presidential elections are times for Kenyans to be treated to varying political shows and antics by individuals seeking power.
These include Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, and Musalia Mudavadi. The three are scions of leading families in colonial and post-colonial Kenya, representing the cream of the Kenyan elite that often competes with itself in alliances that fluctuate with prevailing political climates.
The three were allies in KANU in 2002 when, during the political wedding between KANU and NDP, they enjoyed sidelining vice-president George Saitoti and KANU secretary-general Joseph Kamotho.
An angry Saitoti withdrew his candidacy saying “there come a time” and Kamotho followed due to “mambo yanavyoenda” (they way things are).
As a result, Raila took Kamotho’s position while Uhuru, Kalonzo Musyoka, Katana Ngala, and Musalia Mudavadi shared Saitoti’s job.
Since then, they have gone through alliances and acrimonious separations.
A divorce occurred when former President Moi endorsed Uhuru’s presidential bid. An angry Raila quit KANU, accompanied by Saitoti and Kalonzo, to join Mwai Kibaki’s winning NARC bandwagon, but Uhuru and Musalia remained.
On losing the presidential election but retaining the parliamentary seat, Uhuru became the Leader of the Official Opposition in parliament but he appeared to play second fiddle to Raila, a prominent Cabinet minister, in opposing the government.
Trio ganged up
This internal and external opposition to the government helped the trio to regroup. They ganged up in the “Orange Movement” and successfully opposed the 2005 referendum on the draft constitution.
Raila, titular leader of the “Movement”, asked Uhuru, seemingly as a subordinate, to read the statement of victory castigating the NARC government. The “Movement” transformed itself into the ODM political party.
In the build up to the 2007 elections, the alliance collapsed only to regroup in strange ways after the elections.
While Uhuru freed himself from the image of being Raila’s handyman and joined Kibaki’s PNU, Musalia followed Raila in the 2007 presidential campaign as deputy ODM leader.
The trio benefited from the subsequent election stalemate. Raila became prime minister, while Uhuru and Musalia became deputy prime ministers.
Since each of the trio has presidential ambitions for 2013, there is reconfiguration of politics, with The Hague looming in the background.