Have the scammers finally ousted Kenya’s dynasties?
One of the ironies of politics is the ease with which fiction becomes reality, and reality becomes precedent. Before our eyes, Kenya’s President-elect William Ruto, who has played on all sides of Kenyan politics for at least three decades, has just won an election claiming to be an outsider.
Ruto’s election saga of ‘hustler versus dynasty’ seems to have erased all memory of his 30 years of involvement in the good and bad sides of Kenyan politics. This legend earned him a landslide victory over Raila Odinga in the August 9 presidential election.
Captions still work. Ruto is proof of that. It is a tribute to the epic of this late-day hustler, holder of a doctorate, that in many parts of the continent where the support of the holder is vital for the electoral success of a successor, especially if both are in the same party, he won despite the current president, whose deputy he has been for 10 years.
It would be an unlikely story in Nigeria. For example, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, also the current flag bearer of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is running for the fifth time. Twice his electoral misery was spectacularly complicated and ultimately ruined by President Olusegun Obasanjo, who as president and later as an ex, swore that his deputy Atiku would only become president over his dead body.
In the case of Obasanjo’s eventual successor, Umaru Yar’Adua, even after he was confirmed dead, his deputy Goodluck Jonathan was so afraid to intervene that it took the combined effort of the National Assembly and CSOs to persuade him to take over.
And in the recent primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s failure to emerge as the party’s standard bearer was widely blamed on President Muhammadu Buhari’s embarrassing ambivalence. .
Even if Osinbajo could have made a Ruto, and perhaps in his quiet moments he wondered why not, it is unthinkable that he jumped off the Buhari wagon without finishing worse than Humpty Dumpty.
The boss is a little god. Even at the state level where governors reign, few deputies would dare to challenge their governors in an open electoral contest and live to tell the tale.
This is what makes Ruto’s story a Nigerian, if not an African dream. Ruto, who besides being vice president is also agriculture minister, did not just run in defiance of Kenyatta. He has also actively opposed Kenyatta’s policies, thumbing his nose at the president in March when the Supreme Court struck down the government’s constitutional amendment that would have reintroduced the 2013 power-sharing deal between the president and the Prime Minister.
Ruto appears to have exceeded his own expectations entering the race as an underdog and rookie against five-time veteran and serial loser Raila Odinga, who raced in 1997, 2007, 2013, 2017 and now 2022.
The defeat of the dynastic alliance of the son of the first president and the son of the first vice-president of the country after independence was remarkable.
For Kenya, this year’s polls are also a big improvement on previous ones marred by violence, which left 1,200 dead in 2007 and at least 37 dead in 2017 with thousands more fleeing their homes. .
Along with Tanzania, Senegal, Zambia and a few others, Kenya is one of the African countries that has not experienced a military coup in its 59-year history since independence from Great Britain. -Brittany.
It has retained a reasonable level of stability despite the onslaught of al Shabab extremists in neighboring Somalia and internal upheaval in neighboring Uganda, Rwanda and Sudan.
But he had to wage guerrilla warfare and a bloody uprising to force the British to concede independence in 1963, two years after incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was born.
His father, Jomo Kenyatta, the first Prime Minister of Kenya named him Uhuru, which means “freedom” in anticipation of independence from Britain.
This story, however, is not about Uhuru. It’s about how a man raised on the bread and water of mainstream politics managed to position himself as an ‘outsider’ and still capture the voter’s imagination. It is also, of course, a process of leadership incubation which has seen Kenya hold regular electoral contests and produce a more or less effective transitional system of power over the years.
Odinga who entered the race as the favorite had another near miss, which could well be his last. His 48.8% display on the scoresheets is as close as it gets and better than the 43.4% he polled against Kenyatta in 2017. At 77, that’s how close Odinga has come of his main challenger, who is 21 years younger.
Kenya’s democratic journey is improving and hopefully becoming more resilient. He is almost out of the treacherous turn where incumbents in Africa prepare new constitutions whenever the end of their term is near.
The independence of the tribunal would again be put to the test. Four of the seven election commissioners rejected the presidential election results, while Odinga is asking the court to overturn the results and declare him the winner.
He says it wasn’t Ruto’s hustler epic that was at stake on August 9. Instead, he said, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) went to bed with Ruto, with testosterone supplied by the digital magic of three named Venezuelan mercenaries in the costume of Odinga. The result, the plaintiff said in his 15-point lawsuit, is not a new Kenyan electoral prince, but a monster baby.
According to him, the IEBC sabotaged the elections by rejecting a significant number of valid votes and tampering with materials, including electronic documents, devices and materials for the election.
He wants the court to authorize the opening of criminal investigations against the president of the IEBC and, above all, to declare him and his running mates winners of the election.
A civil society network, called Angaza Movement, which appears to lean towards Odinga, has also filed a petition with the Supreme Court. He argued, inter alia, that there had been systematic violations of the Election Technology Act and that the four-tier process of transmitting results from polling stations to constituency counting centers and then to the counting center national had been violated.
The last time, in 2017, the courts ruled in favor of Odinga by annulling the election. But he boycotted the new race and conceded the presidency to Uhuru. As Kenyan institutions increasingly assert their authority in transparency, the outcome of the current legal battle could prove even more interesting than the elections.
The result will test the remarkable public restraint since the announcement of the election result on August 15.
Was there anything else Ruto could have done so well so far, apart from his salesmanship? He is 21 years younger than his rival and launched his campaign on the generational gear. He marketed himself to the electorate as a progressive, the poster child, not of Kenya’s past, but of its future.
With a population of 48 million and 22 million registered voters, around 40% of whom are young people, the general elections were highly competitive with no clear candidates after several days of counting.
William Ruto’s marginal victory is proof of the competitiveness of the process. But Kenyans are reaping the benefits of the amended 2010 constitution which limits the presidential term to five years and two terms.
Ruto seems to have beaten his masters at their own game. In his first post-election speech where he promised to lead for God and country, he also declared Odinga’s villain, the chairman of the election commission, a hero in the first round. But even Ruto knows that in Kenya’s 59-year history, no election has been won or lost without a tragedy on the razor’s edge.
As his rival’s father and one of the dynastic patriarchs, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, might have said: “It’s not uhuru yet.
Ishiekwene is the editor of LEADERSHIP
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