Raila Odinga
Caption for the landscape image:

Raila Odinga's new game plan in countering President Ruto

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses party delegates at Rangenyo Primary School in Nyamira. Mr Odinga accused President William Ruto of usurping the powers of parliament.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has deployed multiple strategies – including law suits against certain government policies – in countering President William Ruto’s administration.

Mr Odinga has also opted to negotiate with President Ruto, through the National Dialogue Committee (Nadco), in seeking to reform the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

In his scheme of things, the opposition leader seeks a departure from street protests to unearthing corruption scandals and launching pushbacks through courts of law. Mr Odinga recently succeeded in having the High Court suspend the sale of 11 parastatals, among them the iconic Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

Another suit seeking orders to stop the charging of Sh50 convenience fee on the payments made for government services has also been filed by the Senate Minority Leader and Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo. The National Treasury has since gazetted the new charges despite the court battle.

“We have talked about the oil scandal and corruption in the country. We have been talking about the cost of living every single day,” Mr Odinga said on Wednesday in an interview with Citizen TV. “We had hoped to make certain changes and reforms, and we made some demands that were met by arrogance and resistance. The cost of living is very critical, Kenyans are suffering right now and we have asked the government to take remedial measures to alleviate the sufferings of Kenyans.”

Mr Odinga has also launched an aggressive revamp of his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party through the ongoing mass membership registration drive set to culminate in party elections in readiness for 2027 General Election.

Mr Odinga has in the last couple of weeks heightened his political activities in an attempt to undo forays made by President Ruto, especially in his backyard of Western, Luo Nyanza and Kisii.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi told Nation that the nationwide exercise is a long-term plan to strengthen ODM and position it as the party of choice ahead of the next polls.

He said the party has planned for vigorous grassroots activities as it seeks to revive its old networks across the country.

“There is some strategy adjustment which seems to be working for him already because Ruto is blundering a lot,” said Prof Macharia Munene, a university lecturer and a political analyst. “Raila seems to be getting good advice. He has been making straight comments on things that are close to the people and he is resonating well with the mass.”

Similar views were shared by governance expert Javas Bigambo. “Raila and his Azimio coalition seems to have elevated their tact beyond the street protests. The new strategy is designed to impede government plans by obtaining court orders,” he said.

“This level of strategy involves use of the judicial arm of government to exploit loopholes that the Kenya Kwanza government has ignored to challenge decisions that seem unpopular with the people,” Mr Bigambo added.

The new strategies that include abandoning his usual street protest was revealed during Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition Parliamentary Group meeting late last month.

In a closed-door session, the coalition explored options that can work for them, moving into the next polls.

It was during the meeting that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka told the opposition lawmakers that street protests were not a viable option in achieving electoral reforms.

It was on this basis that the PG endorsed the National Dialogue Committee report despite raising misgivings over the rejection of proposals that were fronted by the opposition to bring down the cost of living, which was a critical agenda according to Kalonzo.

“The cost of living was very critical to the youths who came out to protests. In fact, the cost of living is worse today than when we held the protests. But what options do we have when the government could not even allow us to assemble? The police used live bullets on the people,” Mr Musyoka told the MPs.

He told the PG that since the restructuring of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was a common agenda, the coalition should seize the opportunity to push for electoral reforms.

The meeting also resolved that the government should be let to carry ‘the skunk of high cost of living’ after the coalition’s proposals to bring it down were rejected. The lawmakers said it was the responsibility of the government to address the cost of living as they promised Kenyans in the run up to the last elections.

President Ruto has repeatedly said that he has a plan to deal with the country’s skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and stabilise the country’s economy.

The Head of State holds that the Kenya Kwanza administration's Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda recognises that the county’s poor economic performance is primarily due to the underperformance of agriculture, hence the need to boost production.

“Agriculture’s contribution to employment, incomes, foreign exchange, cost of living and industrialisation has two related implications,”

“Neglecting to invest in agriculture deprives the economy of a tremendous opportunity to grow steadily, increasing unemployment, poverty and inequality and strategic interventions in agriculture can ignite the national economy and set it on the path to inclusive growth,” he argues.

Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni told Nation that the coalition has rolled out several programs to reach out to the masses.

He said that all Azimio parties have engaged in party activities in preparations for the next political battle.

“It is no longer a question of competing with this administration but how to save the country from their numerous blunders. We have approached it differently, and all of us are involved in something that helps in the general agenda,” said Mr Kioni.