Former Subukia MP Koigi Wa Wamwere has waded into the debate about President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy and succession politics and his idea of a rotational presidency. Mr Wamwere urges the president to declare ODM leader Raila Odinga his “successor” after the falling-out with his deputy William Ruto.
Q. If you were to reflect on the presidency of Uhuru Kenyatta as his second term comes to an end in just over a year from now, what is your take?
A. When he came to power I thought that like other sons and daughters of dynasties, he would seize the opportunity to correct the sins of his father. He should correct the sins in the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report, Ndung’u report, Kriegler and Waki commissions of inquiry reports among others. By doing that, history will give him a fair judgment and he could succeed where his father did not succeed. This would indirectly be considered as a way to exonerate his father and one could argue his father was old and that is why he did not do as well as his son.
Do you wish President Kenyatta well during this difficult leadership moment he is facing?
I wish him well. People wish their presidents well not because they like and love them. They wish them well because if they succeed the people will benefit. If they do not succeed, then the people will be the victims of that failure. [If] the Big Four agenda — food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare for all — succeeds it would be for the good of all Kenyans and would translate to more jobs, better healthcare, more housing units, food security among others.
With the background of what happened in the 2007-2008 post-election violence, do you think President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto should have vied for the presidency?
The two principals should not have vied for the presidency after they were taken to The Hague. Part of Uhuru’s failure is because he spent too much time fighting to clear his name. It was hard for him to govern. He should have resigned. If he had stepped down, we would not be discussing his failures. He would probably have ended getting a better name.
What do you make of the falling-out between President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto as far as his legacy is concerned?
This bitter [falling-out] is not enhancing his legacy. This [falling-out] is making his legacy look bad. The poor man is hurting. The country is moving further in the wrong direction. I think he is truly failing. If he doesn’t want to look like a failure, he must make a herculean effort to put things right within two years otherwise his presidency will be a terrible failure.
At one stage you recognised Uhuru’s father and the founding father of this nation Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as your hero. Has that one changed?
Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was my hero because he was a champion for independence. Unfortunately, by the time he passed on in 1978, he had already put me into detention for nearly three-and-a-half years. His passing on was good riddance for me in the sense that it would bring about my freedom from detention. This is unfortunate. It is not anything that I am proud of. I have never expected that the person who was my childhood hero would also become my detainer. That I did not expect.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has floated the idea of a rotational presidency. What do you make of this idea?
I think this was a reckless statement. As Kenyans, we feel cheated. We feel betrayed. We feel whatever we were promised the answer to has been a lie. I think it is very disappointing. The alternative we are getting from Uhuru of handing power to other communities is not a solution. Uhuru is admitting that his philosophy has been to use ethnicity to get and keep power.
Will this idea by President Uhuru Kenyatta divide the country further?
This idea will divide the country further along tribal lines as its ideology is to share power along ethnic lines. This kind of arrangement can only put this country into trouble. We have seen trouble with it in 2007-2008 post-election clashes.
Do you believe in power sharing?
I believe in power sharing that is based on merit and not along ethnic lines. This kind of representation on merit is possible to achieve as Kenyans have what it takes to serve. At the time of independence, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta tried to set up a national government but by the time he died the government had metamorphosed into an ethnic state.
Is rotational presidency idea healthy for this nation?
The truth of the matter is that such a presidency has failed in other countries like Yugoslavia. This will be an “eating presidency system” where communities wait for their time to eat.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga was the first leader to embrace rotational presidency idea, were you surprised?
Mr Odinga supported this idea because he believes he might be the first in line to benefit from this kind of arrangement. The truth is that he might not get there. Uhuru might even be the first beneficiary of the rotational presidency with an argument that it is a new arrangement and he should be allowed to taste it first.
Can this idea of rotational presidency spill over to the counties?
I have seen this kind of ethnic arrangement in some counties like Nakuru where the two bigger communities have continued to share everything. This kind of arrangement is not right and should not be allowed because it kills merit. It distorts the distribution of resources. It encourages ethnic hostilities, and ultimately it is bound to fail whether tribal kingpins like it or not.
How should this debate be soberly handled at the national and local level?
This debate should be shelved. In my view, the biggest problem we have in the country at the moment is the Covid-19 pandemic. We should be concentrating on building more hospitals and recruiting more health workers.
Do you think the rotational presidency idea is a deliberate attempt by the executive to hide its failures and unfulfilled promises to Kenyans?
One might want to believe it’s divisionary because [that is] what the current leadership is interested in as it maintains the status quo. They want to be guaranteed of more power than serving the nation. The nation doesn’t come first on their agenda. It doesn’t matter to them anymore.
There is this line of argument that a rotational presidency will bring unity in the country. Do you believe this argument?
There is nothing like unity. To unify a country like Kenya with many ethnic communities, what you require is the ideology of nationalism and not the rotational presidency. Our leaders should unite the country by preaching nationalism that would enable us to share resources equitably.
Is the rotational presidency aimed at undercutting Deputy President William Ruto and his ‘Hustler Nation’ movement now that it is clear the two principals have fallen out?
It is unlikely to benefit Ruto unless he embraces it. Fortunately, Dr Ruto has told the two principals to keep tribes out of the national leadership.
What do you think is driving the handshake pair to drive the idea of the rotational presidency?
Desperation. They want to get the power just in case BBI flops. Rotational presidency might be their fall back plan.
Do you have the feeling that Uhuru is working hard to ensure Mr Odinga succeeds him?
I don’t think so. Uhuru is not being altruistic in everything that he is doing. I feel what the handshake pair is cooking for this country is the sort of food that will give Kenya political stomach aches.
Do you think Mr Kenyatta will quit politics in 2022?
I think Uhuru is not honest with Kenyans. He should tell them the truth on what he plans to do as far as succession politics is concerned. He should be candid and tell Kenyans his successor is Mr Odinga. He should not use proxies like David Murathe and Francis Atwoli. I feel that right now Uhuru is undecided. However, chances of him vying for power in collaboration with Mr Odinga against Dr Ruto is very high.
Just before the launch of BBI, a member of the taskforce Major (Rtd) John Seii said the document was doctored. What do you make of that statement?
The statement by Major Seii should not have been dismissed. Major Seii was not lying. Whatever we saw being launched at Bomas of Kenya could still be changed. Why would Uhuru make such a statement about rotational presidency which is so fundamental to the spirit and the heart of BBI? Our leaders are trying to justify their own bad behaviour in the political arena and it reminds me what Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung said: “Everything is fair in love and war”.
With this kind of confusion what is the political way forward?
DP Ruto should not continue to pretend he is part of Jubilee. Jubilee has fallen apart. We have parties forming out of Jubilee like UDA. DP Ruto should tell his boss enough is enough and quit the government. We are a rogue state and yet we are pretending we are the most democratic state in Africa.
Your parting shot…
At the moment I have no plans to vie for any political seat in the coming elections. I have done my part and history will judge me.