At last, Kenya's opposition leader Raila Amolo Odinga and one of the National Super Alliance (NASA) principals was been sworn-in as the "people's president.' Many thought Raila was politicking. This is a man who dared Daniel arap Moi and he is never intimidated.
What's the expected upshot of this swearing-in for Raila and Kenya? First, it aimed at assuring NASA’s supporters that their leader cannot betray them and chicken out at the hour of need. Indeed, the swearing-in energised Raila and his base.
Second, Raila wanted the government to goof, act viciously and end up in a catch-22 situation. The authorities however side-stepped this trap that would have made them look bad.
Third, the swearing in has brought Raila back to the limelight as far as the politics of Kenya in the future is concerned. It marks the beginning of the journey to the 2022 elections.
Fourth, by being sworn-in without any resistance from the authorities, Raila assured himself and his hangers-on that his next moves will succeed. Had his co-principals partaken of the swearing-in, Raila would have lost his chance to stand again in the coming elections. The swearing-in has secured him a ticket as a major contender. There are those who deceive themselves thinking that Raila is too old to stand again. Retirement never exists in the politics of Africa. If Mugabe was ready to soldier on, why can’t Raila? In 2022, Raila will be 75 just like Emerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe who is standing this year. Some presidents such as Nelson Mandela and Abdulaye Wade ran in elections when they were in their seventies.
Fifth, the absence of other NASA’s co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang'ula and Musalia Mudavadi at the swearing-in has emboldened and cemented Raila as the true leader who can steer Kenya in future after Kenyatta lapses his term in office. The thousands who were ready for anything to see Raila sworn-in cannot be gainsaid. So, too, Raila’s defiance has secured him yet another chance to take a shot at the presidency without necessarily needing to repay the leg up and push he enjoyed from the cowardly co-principals. Furthermore, the swearing-in has portrayed Kenyatta as one who cannot make good on his promises.
Sixth, by taking the oath, Raila has symbolically convinced Kenyans that he is still in the game seeking the very office. His new title “People's President” dwarfs Kenyatta. A friend teased that Kenya now has the people's president as opposed to the government’s president.
Raila has notched past potential future candidates that supported him to end up failing him at the moment of truth for their peril. This puts him ahead of others who are contemplating to stand for election 2022. In a nutshell, however ceremonial or emblematic Raila's swearing-in can rightly be construed or misconstrued; it has given him more political mojo and tempo to keep in on vis-a-vis 2022. For the authority to stop him, it must keep its cool as it softens its stand on dialogue. For, shall the impasse go on, it is Kenya that suffers. Kenyatta must be commended for showing maturity that averted a grave danger that was looming over Kenya. He should not even listen to those who say what Raila did is treason. Instead, Kenyatta should keep an eye on Raila’s next move.
By Nkwazi Mhango