The Handshake, the shock working relationship opposition leader Raila Odinga entered into with President Kenyatta on March 9, 2018, appears to be hitting the rocks.
On one hand, Mr Odinga — an ardent defender of Mr Kenyatta’s administration, its policies and decisions post-Handshake — has continued to focus on failures of the Jubilee government as the ODM leader embarks on what appears to be an image-sprucing mission.
On the other, the Head of State is struggling to keep alive the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), an offshoot of the Handshake, amid growing restlessness, disinterest, alleged sabotage and open rebellion in his Mt Kenya backyard.
The recent bare-knuckle rebuke of the BBI by Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata, and the warning that the initiative will flop in Mt Kenya, has also been read by Mr Odinga’s allies as indicative of the region rejecting the document as a ‘Raila project’, thus dealing a blow to the Handshake.
This, as Deputy President William Ruto, who was pushed out of his own government on Mr Odinga’s entry, yesterday asked the opposition leader and his team to pack up and leave.
The matters have been complicated further by the entry of Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi in the Kenyatta succession matrix — causing ripples in the Handshake, with a section of Ruto allies seeing this as an impending betrayal of Mr Odinga.
Yesterday, Mr Odinga and his allies continued attacking Mr Kenyatta’s track record, with their comments lifting a lid on fractures in the Handshake as the different sides align themselves politically ahead of 2022.
He went for the soul of the Kenyatta administration, telling the President and his Deputy to explain to Kenyans about the promises they made during the campaigns.
Mr Odinga said Jubilee promised that in six month after assuming office they would deliver laptops to school children, one million jobs for the youth, 47 modern stadia in all the counties and the tarmacking of 100,000 kilometres of roads.
All those promises, Mr Odinga said, have not come to pass.
“It’s not right for our opponents to pretend to have forgotten about the promises and launch a campaign targeting the ordinary Kenyans without delivering on their pledges,” Mr Odinga said in an apparent reference to the Ruto ‘Hustler Nation’ movement.
The ODM leader was speaking at Soweto Catholic Church in Embakasi East accompanied by a host of ODM leaders as well as nominated MP Maina Kamanda (Jubilee).
“They’re now forgetting about their promises and are now talking of mkokoteni, mama mboga and wheelbarrows. Where are the laptops? Where are the roads? Where are the stadiums?” he posed.
The comments by Mr Odinga yesterday came just a day after Senate Minority Leader James Orengo, the highest ranking member of ODM in the House, called out President Kenyatta’s government for what he said was disobedience of court orders, ballooning debt, and increased taxation of Kenyans that he said they will not stand for.
“As ODM, we made a choice to support and work with the government. But we will only do so when they are on the right track. If they keep on provoking us, then we are ready to go to the trenches for the sake of Kenyans who are looking up to us,” Mr Orengo said in Siaya on Saturday, sending the Handshake into a tailspin.
He warned against further borrowing, asking the government to “live within our means.”
Yesterday, Mr Orengo, who is also the Siaya senator, continued his criticism of the Kenyatta government, but this time asking him to reorganise his Cabinet and senior public appointments.
He claimed there were saboteurs in government that the President needed to weed out.
Rocking Jubilee boat
The DP, who has his vote-rich Rift Valley backyard under control, has repeatedly accused Mr Odinga of rocking the Jubilee boat from within through the Handshake, thus slowing their pace of development.
Yesterday, the DP, for the third time in as many days, accused Mr Odinga of being insincere.
He told off the ODM leader for criticising the Jubilee government’s delivery of the 2017 election promises, saying, his Handshake with President Kenyatta and BBI constitutional amendment clamour were to blame for the unfulfilled pledges.
“We know that our friend is planning to bolt out (of the Handshake), but first, he wants to cause more chaos in Jubilee. We want to tell him that if he is dissatisfied with things, he can leave. If this is not working for you, you can go back to the opposition,” the DP said in Londiani, Kericho, a day after pitching tent in Kajiado on Saturday and Bomet on Friday.
Some analysts have also stated that Mr Odinga’s pact with Jubilee was “diluting his brand” due to several challenges affecting Kenyans as his silence persists.
Mr Dismas Mokua, a political analyst, told the Nation that, Mr Odinga’s association with Jubilee has diluted his brand, and he will end up carrying all the Jubilee failures and mistakes.”
The Orange leader’s fresh messaging probably lifts the lid on Raila.
Mr Mokua said the Handshake has made the ODM leader to be associated with Jubilee’s poor monetary and fiscal policies.
Former National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has repeatedly stated that Mr Odinga “has never learnt,” adding that he will be in shock if he puts all his hopes on the Handshake to propel him to the country’s top seat.
Mr Odinga, however, while addressing a roadside rally at Soweto in Embakasi, insisted they will remain together with President Kenyatta since they took an oath to remain so and foster unity and prosperity for Kenya. “Uhuru won’t betray me and I won’t betray him on this course,” Mr Odinga declared.
Leaders with Mr Odinga praised the Handshake, saying, it was the country’s best bet at a peaceful 2022 election period.
ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna dismissed talk of Mr Odinga’s possible betrayal of the Handshake.
Mr Kamanda praised the Handshake for fostering peace in Kenya.
Also present were ODM director of elections Junet Mohamed, Nairobi Woman Rep Esther Passaris and MPs George Aladwa (Makadara), Anthony Oluoch (Mathare), Raphael Wanjala (Budalang'i) and Millie Odhiambo (Suba North). Others were Sam Atandi (Alego Usonga), Pamella Odhiambo (Migori Woman Rep), Godfrey Osotsi (nominated) and Florence Mutua (Busia Woman Rep)