Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has criticised Deputy President William Ruto’s ‘hustler’ narrative, accusing him of instigating class war.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr Odinga said leaders must be cautious with how they mobilise support during the campaigns lest they cause instability as the country heads to the elections next year.
“For me, it begins with the brand of politics we play, how we mobilise support, particularly during the campaigns,” Mr Odinga said.
“In the recent US election campaigns, President Barack Obama made a fundamental statement: ‘If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you’re not going to be able to govern them. You won’t be able to unite them later if that’s how you start,” the ODM leader said.
He said leaders must concentrate on uniting the people if at all they wish to govern later.
In reference to the DP’s ‘hustler’ narrative, Mr Odinga said it was divisive and easily prone to inciting one group against the other.
“You begin by pitting people against each other; the poor against the rich, the young against the old, one faith against the other, tribe against tribe, you end up with a hopeless government in a divided country,” added the former prime minister.
Kenya, he noted, needs to build a tradition for inclusive political processes and non-violent competition for political power.
In a diverse society like ours, no single man or woman can be the nation’s messiah, he said.
“We need a tradition of putting the people and the nation first. We must begin creating a shared understanding by our people that we are one country in a continent struggling to find its space in the world, and our progress depends on our ability to unite, pursue and defend our space and interests, otherwise we all lose.”
He noted that unity of the country was a tall order in a political environment that thrives on drumming up “chauvinistic and xenophobic support.”
“We need leaders who worry more about the future of the people and the country than their own future. Such leadership translates into an environment that makes everyone realise that their individual fates are intertwined with that of the nation.”
“In such an environment, citizens and leaders can fight for personal and sectional interests, but still put the country's interest above their own.”
Kenya, the ODM leader said, requires leadership whose core reflexes is for national and not individual survival, with a demonstrated capacity to put national interests first and personal interests next, if at all.
“We need to cultivate a culture of political leadership that is able to create confidence in what the government promises or does. When people begin doubting what the leaders are promising or doing, everything gets lost, resisted or slowed down. Stability stems from the credibility of the leadership,” he said.
With that credibility, added the ODM leader, the country’s leadership will be able to explain, implement and mobilise mass support even for policies that are temporarily inconvenient to a section of the population but good for the nation in the long run.
He cautioned that when leaders mobilise support through emotional and irrational appeals, “we have to govern through similarly emotional and irrational policies, a clear recipe for instability.”
We need to pursue core long-term and consistent, not erratic policies with clearly defined goals, he said.
“There is no path to jobs, good schools, hospitals, industries and security other than political stability enabled by constant pursuit of reform and development while always putting people and the nation first. It takes sound politics and Kenya needs it now more than ever. Unity and stability or nothing,” added Mr Odinga.