Ugenya Didn’t Vote Against Raila, It Voted Against the Handshake

I’ve read a number of posts blaming Senator Orengo for the failure of ODM to retain the Ugenya seat in the just concluded by-elections. Others have also blamed auctioning of ODM certificates or the infighting in the team that led the campaigns. Perhaps, it may be true, but not entirely to blame. Why are we looking at the wrong places when the answer is right under our nose?

The Ugenya MP-elect David Ochieng of MDG and Siaya Senator James Orengo

The Struggle and Betrayal

After Raila’s symbolic swearing in, we were hopeful he would stand his ground to run a parallel government. The economic boycott was working and the Kenyan economy was on its knees. Uhuru was soon running out of options, and the country was ripe for dialogue.

The aftermath of the 2013 elections had been characterized by the demand for a national dialogue. Yes, a dialogue that would enable us to talk about the historical injustices and find the cure for the nagging post-election violence. The actions of NASA during the post-2017 elections were pushing the country towards a grand dialogue. The country was pushing towards a revolution and at the forefront of this struggle was Raila Amollo Odinga, the people’s president.

But when the nut was about to crack, came the grand betrayal. Raila and Uhuru shook hands to put aside the political animosity that had engulfed the country. Before the handshake, Uhuru was the president of Central and Rift Valley, but with the handshake, Raila gave him the remaining parts of Kenya.

One Year On, the Handshake has shown its true colours

It was not a wrong thing to do, though. But it was done the wrong way and at the wrong time. We thought the handshake was about Kenya, but if the recent events are anything to go by, it had nothing to do with us but everything to do with consolidating power.

Under the handshake, Uhuru’s thirst for borrowing has further ballooned. Immediately after the handshake, Kenya went for another Eurobond. This time there was no one to speak against it, so it went smoothly without a single hiccup. He just recently signed another loan from Maxim Bank of China to continue with the SGR project. He did this while Kenyans were dying of hunger in Turkana and a million others are at the risk of starvation.

For those who have little financial knowledge, there is what we call credit utilization ratio. It is such a huge factor when taking a mortgage or a loan. Generally, a good ratio is less than 30 percent, meaning you’re using less than 30% of the total credit available to you. But what would you say of my country Kenya?

It is in the era of handshake that we saw the taxation of oil products. As we speak Kerosene (paraffin), which is used by poorest households in the country, is expensive than Diesel. Our government argues that this helps in controlling adulteration of diesel.

There were fundamental issues that ought to have been addressed by the handshake. They include;

  1. Segregation: The successive Kikuyu and Kalenjin governments have created a divided country where only these two tribes eat at the national table while the others 40 plus tribes are left to fight for crumbs. Even the new constitution has not helped to cure this problem.
  2. Electoral Justice: Our elections have become a ritual ceremony which cannot pass without bloodshed. The election outcomes are predetermined
  3. Cost of Living: The Kenyan people are resilient but that does not mean they are not suffering. If recent research is anything to go by, our people are depressed by the high cost of living no wonder there is an increased rate of suicide in the country.
  4. Corruption & Impunity: Corruption has deprived this country of development. The problem is that the institutions that are mandated to contain this vice have been turned into political tools.
  5. Unemployment: It seems the government has normalized unemployment. Our country has not been interested in creating a good environment for multinationals to set up industries and create jobs. Most companies are moving away from Kenya where the cost of production is at the rooftop. Our country now imports things as simple as matchboxes and toothpicks.

Don’t grab our Victory, cries the dead

Back to where we started, why did ODM lose the Ugenya by-election?

The Ugenya by-election communicated what we’ve been saying, but no ear has been willing to listen. For the ODM supporters like me, who before the handshake believed the party was best placed to offer alternative leadership, what happened in Ugenya is a vote against the handshake.

Just a week to the August 8 general elections, Chris Msando, the son of Ugenya from Lufunga village, was tortured and brutally killed in what many have linked to the elections. His fingers were chopped off and his body dumped in a thicket in Kikuyu.

After the disputed August 8 elections result, violence was witnessed in the country as we demanded fresh free and fair elections. IEBC as then constituted could not guarantee free and fair elections, this is something the IEBC itself admitted.

Many innocent Kenyans lost their lives, among them kids. Like in Msando’s case, no arrest has ever been made. The deaths have since been forgotten. But the truth of the matter is many ODM supporters who share my views have never forgotten. They remember too well and they easily connect the dots to know that these deaths were used as bargaining tool.

There are Kenyans who are patriotic to the course Chris Msando died for, electoral justice. The Ugenya by-elections was a clear message that the despots must and can be stopped, there is no other way! Of course, people who are used to grabbing and taking credit for everything will quickly claim the victory. But we say the Ugenya victory was to the departed souls Uhuru and Ruto killed to keep power. The victory is for the people Raila led to their graves to gain political relevance.