ODM leader and Azimio La Umoja Presidential candidate Raila Odinga has dismissed claims that the handshake between him and his erstwhile opponent President Uhuru Kenyatta collapsed the opposition, arguing that it turned out to be constructive.
According to Mr Odinga, the March 9, 2018 political truce allowed the opposition to offer alternatives to sticky issues they were uncomfortable with in government describing it as ‘Her Majesty loyal opposition’ unlike what is being said by Deputy President William Ruto’s camp.
“We did not go to the government, unlike propaganda being spread by our detractors, we remained very much in opposition. Our party in Parliament is doing what is done in this country is called ‘Her Majesty loyal opposition’,” said the ODM chief.
“We just did not oppose for the sake of opposing but opposed and also offered constructive alternatives to what we were opposing. This is what is happening in Kenya. There have been fallacious theories that you got opposition in government and government in opposition. Nothing can be further from the truth,” he elucidated.
Chatham House address
The former Prime Minister speaking yesterday during his Chatham House address in London while defending why a handshake was needed for the cohesiveness of the country, accused DP Ruto for propagating malice against the government he is serving and also financing his operations.
Mr Odinga said it was hypocritical for the DP to criticize the government and at the same time, he is using government apparatus. He said Dr Ruto’s US and United Kingdom tours were funded by the State
Mr Odinga added that he has not been benefiting from the Jubilee administration despite the handshake.
“When DP came here, he spent over Sh100 million ($1 million USD) taxpayers’ money when he came here. He is travelling with government security,” Mr Odinga said.
“I have to pay my fare to come and meet my people who are here. None have been paid by the government like him. He travels with government officials like security. So he cannot be an opposition in government.”
The DP, speaking on the same venue recently, said the opposition had rendered the current administration ‘a mongrel of a government system’, adding that President Kenyatta had become a ‘refugee’ in the opposition.
“Today in Kenya, we have a mongrel of a government system,” Ruto told the audience, “you don’t know whether it is the government that is in opposition or the opposition is the one that is in government.”
“The leader of the opposition is a project of the system and the deep state of the government. Unfortunately, the leader of what is supposed to be the ruling party is actually a squatter or a refugee in the opposition party,” he added.
Since Azimio la Umoja is a continuation of his political dalliance with President Kenyatta aimed at ensuring that the country is not divided while citing ugly scenarios of 2007, 2013 and 2017, the former premier said currently his side has pointed out thorny issues which they want the Wafula Chebukati-led commission to address to guarantee free and fair the August General Election.
He assured Kenyans and the world that he will accept election results either way as long as they are free, fair and verifiable.
“We are hoping that it will not happen this time around but we are monitoring the electoral commission and we have pointed out areas of our concern that should be addressed to ensure that the process is free and fair. If it is free and fair and we win or lose fairly, we will accept the results either way,” Mr Odinga said.
While promising that in case he is elected to succeed President Kenyatta he will not tolerate corruption, Mr Odinga pointed an accusing finger at DP Ruto for sabotaging the Jubilee administration’s efforts to fight corruption.
According to the former Prime Minister, whenever the Head of State tried to weed the cancerous menace, the DP and his team kept on saying that his individuals were targeted.
At the same time, although he will continue with work Mr Kenyatta has been rolling out across the country, he will not inherit negative ones.
“We will continue with positive work that has been done by the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, I have never said we are going to inherit negative things. There are several negative things that Uhuru can say like the government losing Sh2 billion daily into corruption and he felt very unable to deal with it because he got a divided government, being undermined by his deputy who is an opposition inside government,” he explained.
The ODM boss went ahead: “Any fight against corruption is politicized. It is investigated by investigative agencies then there was a big cry that so and so is being targeted because of being my supporter. They cannot fight this corruption because of internal contradiction within the Jubilee government itself.”
Mr Odinga says that in his administration, be it family members or relatives, no one will be spared saying that the entire justice system will be cleansed, citing when he suspended ministers mentioned in graft investigations during the grand coalition government.
“Nobody will be indispensable in government and you really want to carry out a successful fight against corruption, if any member of your family is caught in corruption, action has to be taken. For example, Paul Kagame, whose brother was arrested and he goes to visit him there. If you do things like this, people will know that it is not business as usual,” said Mr Odinga.
“I do not have that baggage myself. I am coming in with clean hands and people know me that when I was Prime Minister, that is the time I actually suspended two ministers because of investigations which had been carried out to those ministers,” he added.
Drumming up support for his State House journey, Mr Odinga who is making the fifth stab at presidency said his administration will focus on inclusivity in government, endemic corruption and improving the general well-being of our people.
“We in the Azimio la Umoja coalition propose that the allocation be raised to at least 35 per cent of the national budget. I will pursue this proposal. I have always believed in the dictum that ‘a central government does best when it governs least at the local level.’ Article 43 of our Constitution guarantees Kenyans basic social and economic rights such as education, health, food, water, housing and social security. I will purposely implement this very important article.
He added that: “I plan to Azimio to prioritize an industrialization policy that is export-minded and that allows the private sector to drive the export agenda. I will support the private sector to lead a shift from exporting raw materials and agricultural produce and venture into industrial manufacturing with eyes on the international markets.”
Pertaining to the ballooning to the country’s debt, ODM chief said his administration will renegotiate with development partners and audit to establish the actual size.
“We acknowledge that even our troubles with debt are in part caused by corruption, kleptocracy, and state capture. We will mount a serious war on corruption. Corruption as it manifests today is a global phenomenon. We need a new global partnership around this critical issue. Although the tax burden on Kenyans is now unbearable, I will make sure Kenya does not default on debt repayment,” he said.
He also lamented that the current crisis in Ukraine and Russia has cost the country over Sh10 billion in terms of export, asking the United Nations to move with speed and find a solution.
“In Kenya, we stand to lose 10 billion Kenya shillings worth of exports to Russia as a result of sanctions. We export tobacco, coffee, tea, spices, live trees, plants, bulbs, roots, cut flowers, edible fruits, nuts and melons to both Russia and Ukraine. In 2020, we imported wheat, maize and fertilizers worth 40.6 billion Kenya shillings from Russia. This might be equally adversely affected by the sanctions and the disruptions of war at a time our economy can hardly afford such stress,” he disclosed.