Kenya: Kenyatta and Odinga Must Dialogue Now

Published on 7th November 2017

Now that the repeat-presidential election is over, Kenya needs to go back to normalcy. However, this cannot be actualized without two major thespians namely President Uhuru Kenyatta and his nemesis, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga opening up for serious business of hemming fences; and redressing Kenya from the wounds their differences have inflicted on the Kenyan society.

I don’t aim at being a devil’s advocate. Again, looking at the imbroglio-cum-impasse Kenya has been in for long time now, methinks, the two need to look at the situation broadly and boldly.  For a long time, the two have been involved in the dialogue of the deaf something that exacerbated the problem. While they maintained a sort of denial resulting from toxic and tribal politics, their cohorts and majordomos kept on making things harder.  The situation became worse after the rerun whose credibility and legality still hang in the balance. Nobody can tell exactly what will happen regarding the closure of the crevices created. There is no way the malady can heal without their constructive and positive intervention.

When asked if the election was credible, former South African president Thabo Mbeki who headed  the AU electoral observers was quoted as saying some issues “…could have impacted the credibility of the fresh presidential election as acknowledged by the chairperson of [of the] IEBC.” This essentially throws everything in disrepute as far as the results are concerned.  

Apart from credibility vagueness, up until now, nobody knows if Odinga will catch Kenya off guard as he did last time when he went before the court seeking to overturn the results which he got, especially if we remind ourselves the promise the Chief Justice made that his court would entertain whatever matters brought before it.

Now that time is up for politicking, it is important for the two to start thinking about Kenya but not personal power and glory. Evidently, the economy is dangerously tanking. Many business people have already registered their discomfort. The society is deeply divided along tribal lines not to mention political klutziness Kenya is in currently. The two should step into the shoes of other Kenyans who have lost their loved ones, those whose businesses are cascading, those whose lives have been dangerously turned upside down, those whose hopes have been dashed and the likes simply because the two are tussling.

Odinga has commuted his coalition into a movement to mean that his cause has not been achieved up until now. Odinga says that the movement “… is basically going to be involved in civil disobedience, civil resistance not an armed resistance.” For how long; and how will such measures impact on Kenya? Nobody can easily tell now.  

It does not add up for Kenya to be held to ransom simply because two protagonists are living in the state of denial simply. They need to be realistic. There cannot be any winner if the country remains divided. Thanks to such precarious limbo, many opportunistic elements will cash in and take advantage of this logjam. We have already heard of calls for secession and other provocative propositions that cannot and will not help Kenya.

Kenyatta and Odinga need to constructively engage each other in order to avoid giving Kenya’s enemies ammunitions to finish it off, especially at this moment it is facing Al Shabaab in the neighbouring Somalia not to mention wanton economic slump. Shall the duo keep on hardening their positions; Kenyans should take the third way in order to force them to dialogue by taking to the streets.

By Nkwazi Mhango                 

The author [email protected]  is a Canada-based Tanzanian author, Peace and Conflict Scholar, Alumnus of UDSM(Tanzania) Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, Canada. 

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