American political drama ‘House of Cards’ features an unscrupulous politician who dreams of power at all costs. “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy, and casualties,” says Frank Underwood, the lead protagonist.
Unfortunately, for Kenyans this American fiction is turning into our reality.
Opposition aspirant Raila Odinga appears to be playing right from Underwood’s playbook in these elections. However, this shouldn’t be a surprise to many Kenyans, as this was a man who has rejected or doubted election results on a number of occasions, disregarding and even stoking increasing violence, until he receives a political position he desires.
The sad fact is it worked for him in 2008 when he was appointed prime minister and given control over government appointments.
In this election campaign, he has used all manner of subterfuge and deception to once again receive the title of opposition flagbearer even though he gave his word in writing that he would step aside.
Nevertheless, that was mere child’s play for what came next.
With Kenya experiencing its worst drought in a generation, the government acted quickly to lower rising food prices. The Ministry of Africulture capped a one Kilo pack of maize flour at Sh 47 while 2 Kilos pack would retail at Sh 90.
This was great news for Kenyans who rely on unga as a staple of their diet. The only problem was that in areas under Jubilee Governorship, the Sh 90 bags reached the shelves and alleviated the suffering of many.
In contrast, in many Nasa controlled areas, these bags were either not seen or there were too few bags which were whisked away in a short amount of time.
Obviously, some of the hoarding was done for sheer greed, but the graphical location of the unga shortage is surely far too much of a coincidence to be random.
Then came the nurse’s strike.
For two weeks now, most public hospitals have been crippled by a strike that has led to at least 12 deaths, including an 8-month-old child with severe malaria and anaemia not receiving the treatment he needed to survive.
While the new Constitution places health matters, including the welfare of health workers, in the sole hands of the county governments, a false perception has been created that President Uhuru Kenyatta is to blame for the anarchy in a sector he has no control over.
Nevertheless, a closer inspection of who is behind the strike itself is extremely revealing.
Over the last few months, negotiations were started by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, at the behest of Uhuru, to provide nurses with better salaries and conditions.
While the negotiations were going well and had reached an advanced stage, senior union officials started making almost impossible demands, including increases totalling Sh40 billion which the economy could not possibly sustain.
However, even before firm understandings had been reached, Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako called on members of the union to completely cease working, even though this demand was completely against his own union’s rules and regulations.
The secretary general can only ask members to go on strike after receiving the green light by the union’s top committees, the National Governing Council and National Executive Committee. Indications demonstrate that Panyako did not seek this approval.
Apparently, not only is Panyako a member of Raila’s ODM he is also running to become a Kakamega senator.
That a person running for office would not step aside from a senior position such as Panyako’s during the campaign is bad enough. Even worse is to abuse this position to try and score political points in the heated last few weeks of an election campaign while Kenyans suffer and even die.
Raila of course hasn’t mentioned any of this, let alone tried to prevent the situation from escalating, leading many to assume that he might be more than a mere bystander.
Raila has amply demonstrated that when in power or in the opposition, the Kenyan people do not fare well. He achieved next to nothing when he was minister or a prime minister and uses Kenyans as tools to ingratiate himself to the voting population.
The constitution, which he initially supported and backed, is now something he seeks to change, upending all the gains Kenyans have made in terms of equality, unity and a hopeful future, just so he can create some illegal positions for his political cronies at the potential cost of billions of shillings of taxpayers money.
Nothing is sacred in Raila’s desperate aspirations for the presidency, not the rule of law, the constitution and certainly not the safety, security and health of the Kenyan people.
Frank Underwood would be proud.