By MAKAU MUTUA
Posted Saturday, June 15 2013 at 16:59
In democratic politics, “adversaries” are not “enemies,” but “opponents”. But methinks that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime is treating Cord leader Raila Odinga as an “enemy,” and not an “adversary”.
Since the ascension of Jomo’s scion to the pinnacle of power, Mr Odinga has been subjected to mean, petty and humiliating slights by state functionaries.
It hasn’t stopped there. His spouse, Mrs Ida Odinga, hasn’t been spared, either. Nor has Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
But it’s Mr Odinga who’s the prime target of these “primitive attacks”.
The question is why. What does Mr Kenyatta, or Deputy President William Ruto, have to gain by rubbing Mr Odinga’s nose in the dirt? What’s the rationale here?
Let me refresh your memory if you’ve missed the brouhaha over Mr Odinga’s “VIP woes”. But I will spare you the gore details. Bottom line is that Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka, as well as their spouses, are being “jerked around” like common raia, or hoi polloi. Both Mr and Mrs Odinga have been denied the use of Kenya’s VIP lounges.
So has Mr Musyoka. Those on Jubilee’s side seemed to relish Mr Odinga’s public humiliation. Majority Leader Aden Duale “apologised” to Mr Odinga, but opined that the former Prime Minister was “inferior” to the President, his deputy, and ex-presidents.
The rambunctious Mr Duale was clearly “carrying water” for State House. His hair-scratching and tortured “explanation” didn’t cut it.
Isn’t Mr Odinga an ex-prime minister, like Britain’s Tony Blair, or Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi?
Would Mr Kenyatta’s regime deny them VIP treatment were they to grace Kenyan soil?
Would Mr Kenyatta deny former President Mwai Kibaki, Mr Odinga’s co-principal in the defunct coalition government, VIP honours?
Mr Odinga was Mr Kibaki’s “equal” in the last government, and that alone should settle the matter.
But alas, not in the mind of the Jubilee state. Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have kept completely silent on the matter. They must know the buck stops at their desks. Their silence implies complicity, or worse.
My crystal ball tells me Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are deathly afraid of Mr Odinga, the veteran of opposition politics.
Even though they “defeated” him in the March 4 elections, they are looking over their shoulders. That’s why they want to crush and “murder” his spirit to vanquish him for good.
They must be seeing visions of the Kanu one-party state of which they are the ideological – and biological – children.
It stretches credulity that a factotum like Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia could, without authorisation “from above”, dare a takedown of Mr Odinga.
Mr Kenyatta ought to fire Mr Kimemia if he acted alone, and publicly apologise to Mr Odinga.
It’s not rocket science to connect the dots, and figure out why Jubilee shudders at the mention, or sight, of Mr Odinga.
Their mobs tend to go into uncontrolled paroxysms.
Jubilee ideologue Mutahi Ngunyi let the cat out of the bag last week on his Twitter account. He’s usually a good barometer of what the Kenyatta insiders are thinking, and plotting.
On June 8, he told Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto on Twitter to “stop holding hands and deal with Mr Odinga unapologetically and decisively”.
He alarmingly warned that Mr Odinga “was regrouping”. He had concluded that the “honeymoon [playing nice with Mr Odinga] is over”.
Isn’t “regroup” what the opposition does in democratic politics? Or isn’t Kenya a democracy?
Which begs the question – what does the erudite Mr Ngunyi mean that Mr Odinga must be dealt with “unapologetically and decisively?” I recall that Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka surfaced at State House to congratulate Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto on their “victory” soon after the Supreme Court denied the Cord-Africog petition.
Mr Kenyatta must have been salivating at the sight of his nemesis falling on his sword.
I certainly would have advised Mr Odinga against the visit. But I believe it showed Mr Odinga to be a magnanimous statesman. So why is the Kenyatta regime paying him back in such an ugly coin? Methinks it’s because Mr Odinga refused to be Mr Kenyatta’s international “errand boy”.
Let me warn the Jubilee regime. The Book of Mathew 7:21 teaches us to “do unto others as you would others do unto you”. That’s not idle moral, or religious, advice. It’s an ageless nugget of wisdom common to most cultures. It’s a central civilisational rule. It teaches that “civility” is the pivot of all human relationships.
Poking Mr Odinga in the eye is synonymous with spitting at half of Kenya – which voted for him – in the face.
This is my question – what’s to be gained by such spiteful and pitiable behaviour? Why is Jubilee so bitter with Mr Odinga if it, indeed, won the election fair and square?
Mr Kenyatta needs friends, not more enemies. Why? That’s because he’s not out of the woods. His victory was tenuous and highly contested. He, and Mr Ruto, his deputy, have The Hague noose around their neck.
No amount of bloviating by Mr Kenyatta’s supporters will make the charges for crimes against humanity go away.
He will be navigating very tricky legal rapids for the next several years. He could be convicted either in person, or in absentia.
Why make Mr Odinga one more enemy?
Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC. Twitter @makaumutua.