UDA’s barefaced hypocrisy and Potemkin’s fake village’s strategy

Deputy President William Ruto (fourth left) and leaders of the 12 parties that formally joined Kenya Kwanza alliance leaders after signing a coalition agreement on in Nairobi on April 12, 2022.

Smooth runs the water,

Where the brook is deep.

William Shakespeare


The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) intended to make nearly 80 amendments to the Constitution, among them Articles 11, 80, 82 and 107. These changes were to, inter alia, develop an economic model based on value creation that offers equitable economic opportunities to all, effective and expeditious prosecution of corruption cases, mandatory two-thirds gender implementation, creation of the offices of Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition.

Though these changes had broad-based support across the country and were passed by all county assemblies except Turkana, Uasin Gishu and Baringo, inspired activists with hectoring by the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) stymied the BBI train.

Their argument was that we don’t need constitutional changes now. The courts agreed. And we all moved on until the Kenya Kwanza Coalition Agreement was published.

The downtrodden

The Kenya Kwanza Coalition Agreement appropriates intentions of the BBI Bill, including the economic model of lifting up the downtrodden and creation of the Executive Office of Prime Minister. It exposes the hypocrisy of UDA.

The agreement creates the Office of Chief Minister, which is reserved for Musalia Mudavadi.

A rose by any other name is a rose. Chief Minister is basically Prime Minister. It also reserves the seat of Speaker of National Assembly for Moses Wetang’ula, allocates 30 per cent of public offices to the Luhya nation and commits to build tarmac roads in western Kenya.

These promises have no legal substratum and are like a promise made by a man in a drunken stupor and in a house of sin. In law, such contracts are not enforceable. The legal maxim is ex turpi non oritur actio (from a dishonourable cause an action does not arise).

While addressing the Kikuyu nation, UDA takes credit for Jubilee infrastructure projects including SGR, roads, power connectivity and technical colleges, then add a rider that people don’t eat roads.

To the coastals, UDA promises to uproot the SGR. The Luhya nation is promised 30 per cent of GoK jobs, including in constitutional commissions and revival of sugar factories.

These promises, like the coalition agreement, are empty cymbals.

Prince Grigory Potemkin was the governor-general of Crimea, a province of Russia.

Potemkin was a private lover of Empress Catherine the Great. Catherine, despite her illicit relationship with the governor, remains one of Russia’s greatest rulers; a renaissance leader. Whenever she visited Crimea, Potemkin would mobilise villages to create a façade of development structures that would be pulled down immediately the Queen left.

The Queen never discovered the trick and their love ended only when she met a new lover.

Potemkin, however, died after going mad.

UDA is engaging the Potemkin villages strategy in its campaigns. For each Kenyan tribe, it has built a façade of empty promises. Economic charters are signed with individual counties. Promises are made.

Our Constitution, as it is, is clear on the executive power structure, budgetary and revenue allocation and appointments to public and constitutional offices.

Appointments aren’t allocated to regions but instead made on the basis of merit. They must also be a reflection of the face of Kenya.

Nepotism is prohibited in the supreme law.  The Luhya nation is 14 per cent of Kenya. There is no way in law they can have a 30 per cent allocation of state offices. And constitutional offices are beyond tribal allocation.

Unless UDA captures the majority of seats, its promise to build tarmac roads in western Kenya or to give the offices of House Speakers to Wetang’ula and Amason Kingi will remain faded ink on the coalition agreement. The Speakers are elected by a majority of MPs in both Houses. Revenue allocation to counties is set out in the law. Counties won’t get more than what the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) gives. The county economic charters can't replace Article 215 of the Constitution and the Commission on Revenue Allocation Act, No. 16 of 2011.

In a nutshell, the Kenya Kwanza coalition agreements between UDA on the one hand and ANC, FORD-Kenya, PAA, Chap Chap et al on the other are built on legal sand. They have no underpinning in the Constitution and the statutes. UDA is engaging in open deception to win the support of village parties by building them Potemkin villages. Make no mistake, though. UDA knows it is all deception and has gone ahead to give the affiliate parties voter thresholds they would never achieve.

Accused of breach

ANC and Ford-K can never deliver 70 per cent of Luhya support to William Ruto in 100 years. UDA will, therefore, not be accused of breach!

The German legend of Pied Piper of Hamelin is apt. Pied Piper, a rat catcher, succeeded in driving all rats from the city. Then the city refused to pay for the services. In revenge, Pied Piper, using his golden flute, lured all the children of Hamelin out of the city and disappeared them.

UDA believes it is owed a debt for “making” Uhuru Kenyatta to be elected President.

They believe that the country has reneged on the debt of “Kumi Yangu, Kumi Yako”.

In revenge, UDA has played the magical flute with all these promises, economic charters and now coalition agreements. The youth of Mt Kenya have been seduced.

Leaders of village parties have fallen into the trap.

On August 10, they will wake up to realise they were led out of the city.

And Raila Odinga and his supporters will be ensconced in the city.  It will be rather too late.

Donald B Kipkorir is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and supporter of Raila Odinga's presidential candidacy. Twitter: @DonaldBKipkorir

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