Why Azimio is so easy to predict

Raila Odinga

Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka (left), Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua during a media briefing at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation Center in Nairobi on May 1, 2023. 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Jubilee is hardly anywhere to be seen near Azimio, and ODM seem to be momentarily unavailable.
  • It appears that the country is assiduously pulling away from the precipice of fiscal distress.

Even by the standard of the hyper-mutable dynamics of our political organisations, what used to be Azimio remains peerless. On paper, it was the unassailable electoral behemoth the tectonic culmination of the amalgamation of Jubilee, then the largest political party on the land and NASA, the equally formidable and second most influential outfit.

In reality, Azimio could only marshall a fringe ethno-regional faction of Jubilee and the radical arch-Odingaist wing of ODM.

Over time, and in the chastening aftermath of last year's electoral debacle, even this morsel shrank further into a bizarre vuguvugu populated the ephemeral spectres of political nonentities, malevolent cultic gang leaders and other odds and ends, and chiefly animated by Uhuru Kenyatta's capricious engagement style, mercurial motivation and fitful political drive.

Jubilee is hardly anywhere to be seen near Azimio, and ODM seem to be momentarily unavailable. In other words, Azimio has become the floundering avatar of Kenyatta's erratic and half-hearted politics.

A fortnight ago, Kenyatta set out to court Kalonzo Musyoka, an even more skittish political operative, in a bid to project an ominous strategic facade. He was sufficiently emboldened to pronounce himself on contemporary political affairs and even deliver the sort of unbecoming incontinence which, ironically typifies him at his most confident.

All this is really neither here nor there, unless of course, one is curious about what could have so emboldened Kenyatta that he produced another of those brazen vulgarities which characterise the Sagana series of unfortunate escapades.

Post-presidential politics

Late in September, Kenyatta's bewildered acolytes were mobilised to celebrate his 62nd birthday in highly coordinated spontaneous political events. The over-arching political messaging was two-pronged: Kenyatta was not going anywhere, and his turn at the helm was Kenya's golden age.

To prosecute the regional aspect of his post-presidential politics, Kenyatta retained a down-and-out ethno-regional fundamentalist who has been a youth leader for 4 decades, to initiate a politics of grievance by positioning a past invasion of Kenyatta's farm as a casus belli. His acolytes have since moved to dissociate Kenyatta with this toxic political delinquent but perhaps the damage is all done.

Kenyatta's felicitous anniversary thus proved a perfect opportunity for Azimio, or such of it as it may be, to launch a recalibrated onslaught on the government. Hitherto, the mainstay of Azimio messaging has been that the government had over-promised during election campaigns and was doomed to under-deliver in office. This was the fundamental rationale of its campaign to lampoon, dismiss and deny all government pronouncements and resolutions as futuristic mirages, pragmatic impossibilities and dazzling lies.

However, this strategy is short sighted, as Azimio quickly came to realise. The government has proceeded to systematically match each of its pledges with official commissioning of the delivery and actualisation mechanisms and, over time, evidence of work in progress has grown increasingly difficult to ignore or refute. The probability of the government not only being truthful about its commitments, and of its projects culminating in success, increase by the day.

As a matter of fact, the fundamental guarantor of Azimio's strategic assumptions, that government would be brought to its knees by insalubrious scenarios instigated by sovereign debt default, failed to materialise. On the contrary, it appears that the country is assiduously pulling away from the precipice of fiscal distress. This is splendid news for the country, but a nightmare for Azimio.

Azimio failed miserably

Faced with the possibility of the government averting crisis and delivering substantively on its governing mandate, Azimio realised that mere profiling of the government and its leadership as it made steady progress would be a waste of time and resources.

That is why, shortly after the birthday, there has been a flurry of more determined and devastating efforts to undermine government and sabotage its agenda. The most potent of these is lawfare: the deployment of strategic litigation to achieve specified objectives.

Predictably, the targets of this lawfare are the strategic pillars of the bottom-up economic agenda. Conservatory orders have been, and most certainly, are being procured to tie up the implementation of the universal healthcare, affordable housing and other agendas, together with their underlying intervention, revenue mobilisation, under various constitutional and factual pretexts.

It does not seem to matter that these initiatives actually create jobs for hundreds of thousands, and put real money in the pockets of millions; the possibility of the government succeeding thereby is intolerable.

The problem with taking such emphatic action is not merely that it denies innocent people a chance to make something of their skills and abilities, it is also evinces, quite emphatically, profound lack of confidence in the legitimacy, credibility and strength of Azimio's own political strategy as well as its ethical and intellectual foundations.

It also explains why Azimio failed miserably in the last general election, struggles desperately even now, and why it has always been easy to predict its future prospects, which remain firmly in the general region of the cipher. As ever, Kenyatta, who personifies Azimio, remains incomparably easy to predict.

Mr Ngéno is an Advocate of the High Court