Raila in Canaan but without his people
- Odinga’s critics have observed that he is increasingly sounding like a Joshua in Canaan minus his people after the March 9 Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
- They cite his recent support for the government’s unpopular heavy taxes and public display of excitement about his perceived influence in government.
In my last column, I described the appearance of ODM party leader Raila Odinga at the opening of a Unaitas Sacco branch in Kisumu as something of a rock star endorsement.
Mr Odinga’s political party enjoys a massive following in Kisumu and other Luo Nyanza counties, with its influence seen to extend to the local economy and policy.
It largely decides who wields executive authority as governor as well as who serves in the county assembly.
But that is not the only reason Unaitas and other investors would need someone of Mr Odinga’s political stature on their side in these markets.
It is an open secret that politics remains a major concern for businesses in our part of the country.
Recent disputed elections have especially exacted a heavy toll on businesses, some of which have had to shutdown for days or even weeks due to the violent protests and the looting that came with them.
The grapevine has it that the violence isn’t always spontaneous and that some politicians actually look to make the most of it.
In the heat of the protests that broke out in Kisumu against the holding of a repeat presidential election last October, a local party activist reportedly made a call to an ODM bigwig to express his concerns that the demonstrators had been infiltrated by organised gangs out to loot shops.
The party activist confided in his friends that he was curtly reminded to mind his own business.
No doubt, any investor seeking Mr Odinga’s endorsement would feel reassured to hear from the ODM leadership that such irresponsible elements will not be tolerated within party ranks.
And, perhaps more than anyone else, the millions of ODM’s faithful supporters deserve a reassurance that they are worth more than the party’s bargaining chips for political deals.
Mr Odinga’s critics have observed that he is increasingly sounding like a Joshua in Canaan minus his people after the March 9 Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
They cite his recent support for the government’s unpopular heavy taxes and public display of excitement about his perceived influence in government as being consistent with the behaviour of a shepherd that has abandoned his flock.
His party’s role in local governance has been anything but positive.
From Migori to Homa Bay and Siaya, the ODM-controlled county governments are just as plagued with corruption, starving local people of vital public services.
Through an aggressive campaign of political zoning, the party has succeeded in suppressing opposing views locally while purporting to advocate wider democratic space nationally.
This onslaught on local democracy actually casts the ODM partly leader more in negative light of a Pharaoh than a Joshua.
Mr Otieno is Business Daily’s chief sub-editor. Email [email protected]