Mukalo Kwayera and Eric Juma @kwayeram
Senate Leader of Minority James Orengo has thrown another spanner into the works of the Uhuru-Raila handshake matrix, adding to the growing impression that the plot runs deeper than what the politicians say.
He said the modalities and strategies adopted in the deal will enhance chances for Nasa leader Raila Odinga’s presidential bid in 2022. His remarks appeared to ran counter to the stand taken by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila last week, when they spoke at the funeral of pro-democracy icon Kenneth Matiba.
The two said the handshake had nothing to do with the 2022 succession politics. That Orengo spoke about the handshake, 2022 and Raila in the same breath on Sunday has been interpreted to mean that the Opposition leader’s political future could be pegged on their detente with Uhuru.
Orengo said Raila has embraced the deal to ensure peace and unity prevail in the country and to have chance to formulate strategies aimed at creating an environment that favours all political players in the 2022 contest. “We have not yet abandoned our quest for power.
We are behind Raila’s political ambition and right now we are concentrating on the deal to solve the myriad challenges that are not only denying Kenyans service delivery, but also peace and unity,” said Orengo during a funds-drive at Yala Catholic Church in Gem, Siaya county.
He told off National Assembly Leader of MAjority Aden Duale for “engaging in politics of division that favour his master’s 2022 presidential bid,” telling him to embrace the handshake.
Duale has emerged as a staunch supporter of Deputy President William Ruto’s stand against a constitutional referendum proposed by Raila.
“Duale and his cohorts want to coerce Kenyans to stand by the DP in 2022 and that’s why they are opposed to proposals that seek to introduce a three-tier government and major changes in the Constitution through a referendum,” said Orengo.
He, however, urged Ruto’s confidantes to go slow on 2022 politics and to, instead, join President Uhuru and Raila to mend bridges destroyed by elections and political divisions.
Orengo’s sentiments were shared by ODM secretary General Edwin Sifuna who noted the handshake created a chance for Raila to play his cards and hold onto leadership mantle in 2022.
“With Raila working with President Uhuru he can now skin the cat,” said Sifuna. Sifuna, however, maintained that the referendum seeking to change the governance system is unstoppable and whoever is opposed to it “will be washed away by the tsunami”.
The remarks by Orengo and Sifuna came as the Sunday naming of an advisory team by Uhuru and Raila to lead the pathway to their Building Bridges Initiative drew mixed reactions even before members settle down to work.
Skepticism and a subtle wait-and-see attitude greeted the selection of the 14-member panel that some saw as a multifaceted move that could serve vested interests in the topic.
Misgivings started to pop up that each half of the team looked closely allied to the Head of State on the one hand and the Opposition leader on the other, leaving questions begging as to how the interests of other key players from the political, religious, civil society, professional and academic spheres would be accommodated.
Though no explanation was given as to which criteria was applied in selecting the advisers, it appeared none of the members represent key stakeholders such as Ruto, Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), Law Society of Kenya, trade unions and non-governmental organisations.
Of the 14, retired bishops Lawi Imathiu (Methodist), Peter Njenga (Anglican), Garissa Senator Yussuf Haji, Samburu Women’s Representative Maison Leshomo, Major (Rtd) John Seii, James Matundura and Agnes Kavindu are associated with Uhuru camp.
On the other hand, Raila’s political wing is linked to Busia Senator Amos Wako, Makueni Women’s Representative Rose Museo, Prof Saeed Mwanguni, Dr Adams Oloo, Kisumu Catholic Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth, Morompi ole Ronkel and Florence Omosa.
Most of the persons the People Daily spoke to for comment remained cagey on the matter, saying it was too early to comment on the matter.
Going by the body language of the two sides of the advisory committee, there were some growing views that Raila’s side might be overly excited by the latest developments through which it hopes to re-ignite a national debate on constitutional reforms leading to a referendum whereas, the Uhuru side is seen as content with the status quo after the handshake which has seen calm return in the country.
However, Mudavadi was of the view that the handshake deal deserves to be given the benefit of doubt instead of dismissing it offhand. “If it’s a curtain-raiser to open the ground for inclusive national dialogue, then it’s welcome,” Mudavadi told People Daily on phone.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Butere MP Tindi Mwale and his Belgut counterpart Nelson Koech said the advisory team was unbalanced because the youth were nor represented.