Politicians eat own words as villains turn into heroes
Politicians have mastered the art of speaking from both sides of the mouth in pursuit of survival in the volatile Kenyan political arena.
With less than three months to the August 9 election, many of them have been forced to eat their words after finding themselves in the same boat as their erstwhile political enemies.
They have been oscillating between the extreme ends of the political theatre, camping and decamping in search of comfort as the elections draw close.
The two camps at play are Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Azimio-One Kenya coalition.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, formerly a fierce critic of Ruto, made a sharp about-turn on Monday, wrapping acerbic remarks he made about him in the past with praises as he joined the DP camp.
“As a child who was born and self-made, I know what this country needs and what will be best for Kenya. And that is the embodiment of William Ruto, who by the grace of God and the votes of the People of Kenya will be the next President of Kenya,” Mutua said about Ruto.
A month before, he was all adulation for the Azimio leader, as he beseeched him to pick him as his running mate.
“Raila is a focused leader, with wisdom and a sharp brain that is very clear of where Kenya needs to be. He is a diplomat par excellence and a strategist who is able to unite the people while at the same time ensuring we all score. He is a captain, a pilot, an aviator that will take us beyond the skies in prosperity,” the governor said on April 10.
The governor is not alone. He decamped with Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi, a former senior member of Raila’s ODM who is now supporting Ruto.
For the last 10 years, Kingi has been Raila’s pointman in Kilifi having won the governor’s seat on an ODM ticket in 2013 and defended it five years later. When he was still with Raila, he lavished praises on him, saying he was the Coast region’s saviour.
“We celebrate you for your tireless quest for democracy, unity and the rule of law in our country. These virtues are now encapsulated in the Azimio la Umoja initiative which you have been championing,” Kingi told Raila.
But when he shifted allegiance to Ruto on Tuesday, he said the DP was the right person to provide solutions to the challenges of the Coast region.
“We absolutely feel that our pain will be eased in Kenya Kwanza…the failing by Kenya Kwanza to capture power in August will spell doom to us as a region,” he said.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka has also come under fire for failure to stick to one word on a range issues. For this reason, he has earned the watermelon moniker which came into popular use during the campaigns for the 2010 Constitution.
Recently, the former Vice-President appeared to lend credence to this characterisation when he changed his mind about a panel interviewing candidates for Raila’s running mate.
Initially, he had vowed never to appear before it, saying it was demeaning, only to later present himself before the team led by former Minister Noah Wekesa.
“I have been a vice-president for five years under Mwai Kibaki and contested as running mate for Raila twice. How can I be subjected to an interview? ” Kalonzo was earlier quoted as saying.
When he finally met the panel on Tuesday, he said: “The Committee has great and experienced men like Bishop Njenga and Bishop Zaccheus Okoth. I looked at that and said, why would I not want to go and meet Bishop Okoth?”
Kalonzo who was Raila’s running mate in the past two elections has ruled out working with the Orange leader despite entreaties by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“It will be unthinkable to support Raila for the third time. I will be the most stupid person to once again support his bid without a measure of reciprocity,” he declared during a TV interview in June last year.
Change of tune
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi has also been accused of doublespeak. Before teaming up with Ruto to form the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, he had vowed never to work with the Deputy President whom he accused of being part of the clique that, he said, had brought down the economy.
“Ruto has been in government for nine years where he took part in formulating policies that have worked against the people of Kenya. What new thing is he going to do to make the economy work that he has not done,?” he said last year.
Last week, he changed tune, absolving Ruto of any mistakes. The buck, he declared, stopped with Uhuru.
“Mr President, the buck stops with you. You cannot stand up and tell the nation that prices of commodities have gone up because the DP is not with you,” he said.