There is no doubt that the handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga has created a conducive atmosphere for business to thrive in the country.
Besides, it has taught us that political leaders who harbour critical differences can find a common ground to work towards the collective good.
But some fundamental questions, however, remain: Are we better off today than we were before the handshake? Will the handshake bear fruit to spur the country’s social, political and economic future through the Building Bridges Initiative?
When Raila’s brother Oburu Odinga urged him last week to withdraw from the handshake, it provided the impetus to two sides of the political isle who have been ambivalent about the pact.
According to many African traditions, when one’s elder brother speaks, it is weighty! Oburu pointed out that corruption which has spiraled in the Jubilee government is the reason why his brother should quit to avoid soiling his political legacy.
Many Kenyans are frustrated with the looting going on in the current government today. If the looting continues unabated, the country will be an empty shell by 2022.
Those who agree with Oburu contend that Raila’s legacy will be completely ruined if the war he supports against corruption flops.
A good number of Raila’s supporters think the handshake has given the president leeway to make unilateral decisions with less criticism. In the recent announcement by Uhuru that the government has allocated land to Uganda in Naivasha to construct a dry port, nobody knows the actual cost of the land, who will construct the port, and the original owner of the land, and whether due diligence was followed before striking the deal with Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
The critical role of an informed and empowered citizenry is to critic the decisions made by leaders because such decisions will affect the present and future generations. Many supporters of Raila in the country are doubting Thomases about the handshake. As an ardent supporter of Raila for 15 years, I see the handshake as a conduit for the Jubilee regime to perpetuate its blunders.
The degree of hopelessness by Nasa supporters before the handshake was high. Many hoped the call by the coalition to boycott products would paralyse operations and bring change. The establishment of the People’s Assemblies raised hopes higher. Others desperately discussed secession.
Raila’s supporters, therefore, have a legitimate right to question why the Independent Electoral and Boundaries chairman Wafula Chebukati is still in office if indeed the handshake was arrived at to address electoral malpractices.
Ironically, the electoral body is still intact. One wonders why the quest for a new IEBC team has decapitated.
Raila supporters wonder if the handshake with Uhuru considered compensation for the Nasa supporters who were maimed, tortured and killed.
Kenyans remember Musando, Master Mutua, Baby Pendo and many others. The families of the deceased deserve restitutive justice so that they can move on like other Kenyans.
Failing to compensate the families of the victims just like what happened to some of the victims of the 2007/2008 post-election violence, will be tragic for Raila’s political legacy and the ultimate goal of the Building Bridges Initiative.
The handshake has created some confusion in parliament and senate. The role of the opposition in our legislative chambers is completely diluted, killing the spirit of multiparty democracy. We need dissent, a watchdog to check the excesses of the Executive.
It’s sad that Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula act like they are part and parcel of the Jubilee government.
Finally, Uhuru who holds the steering wheel of the handshake should tell Kenyans why he has failed to nurture inclusivity in his government. This is a fundamental issue that is currently bedeviling the country. Kenyans thought that after the handshake, they will see radical surgery in government.
If the composition of the Jubilee government comprises mainly of two communities, why would Uhuru and Raila talk about inclusivity? Leaders must walk the talk and talk the walk.
Adding insult to injury, some cabinet secretaries whose names have featured prominently in the corruption list are still in office when the major purpose of the handshake was to tackle graft.
The buck stops with Uhuru. To Raila, heed your brother’s call and pull out to safeguard your political legacy.