One of the headlines that captured my attention last week was one where Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta met to resolve the political crisis that had gripped Kenya in the aftermath of the August/ October 2017 elections.
As a true Ugandan, I was appalled and shocked. Shocked because there is no reason whatsoever that requires the sitting president – no matter how you came to power – to seek and talk to the loser in the elections you both contested.
Now, Mr Kenyatta, you are making East Africans look bad! We have always had a strict policy that we religiously follow in the region. In a political contestation, there is a loser and a winner. Whatever way you won the elections in Kenya, you are the president and you have no obligation to speak to your opponent on how to rule Kenya!
Are you really a true son of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta? If yes, then you know very well how your father’s main foe, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the father of your current nemesis Raila, was treated. That is what you are supposed to do, instead of meeting him. And offer an olive branch? Chief, that is not right!
On this continent, you do not want to be seen speaking or shaking hands with your political opponent. What we do in Africa is arrest our opponents, financially ‘kill’ them, and make their lives a living hell. Have you not heard it done in very close and neighbouring countries? Pick some inspiration!
I hope you are not creating a stupid precedence that will deny us the right to drama where regime opponents are hounded and harassed in the harshest of manners. You are supposed to be angry with Odinga.
Kenya police is supposed to be under your strict instruction to unleash teargas or even bullets wherever he is seen disturbing peace. He should be spending more time in prison and in court defending himself from all sorts of charges.
So, now Mr Kenyatta, you need to remember that you are the president of Kenya. How on earth did you even allow Mr Odinga to ‘swear’ himself in as the ‘people’s president’? He had made your case so easy.
Shortly after that ‘swearing-in’ ceremony, he should have been charged with treason and sent to a maximum security prison. Instead, you allowed the man you defeated to freely roam the countryside! Man, you need to style up or else you are looking bad in a well-governed region.
I sometimes think yours is a sense of human gone bad. How else can I make sense of the moves and machinations that you have employed for the main op- position figure? I hear the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is visiting Kenya and, all of a sudden, you are making peace with Odinga?
That does not add up. Did the US State Department make it a precondition for the secretary to visit Kenya?
The usual script is that the head of the opposition is, by nature, not to be trusted and cannot be spoken to. They are good for nothing other than causing political discord in the country.
They have no vision and their politicking has no value for the entire country. They are negative forces who must be fought, using all available means. They must be contained and exposed.
I am still in shock after seeing your picture shaking hands with Odinga at Harambee House and even smiling and looking him straight in the eyes. Gosh! Mr Kenyatta, you do not smile with your opponent; you do not shake hands except if Pope Francis is in town. That is the unwritten law about politics in Africa.
Do a personal quick survey on the East African democratic scene and you will discover that you are not adhering to the unspoken agreement on how to contain any real or perceived opposition.
As a president, you are entitled to rule as you wish. You do not have to discuss the future of the country with anybody. You have all the wisdom and vision for Kenya.
Don’t you remember that Odinga even refused to recognise your victory during the last elections? He even refused to stand again for the fresh elections; and you have the courtesy of allowing a photo to be taken of the two of you! What will your voters think?
That is unacceptable, sir! Please seek advice from those who have dealt with the opposition in a way that leaves no room for contestation. That way, we will fulfil the legacy of the founding fathers of the East African Community that is based on strictly containing the opposition.
The author is a human rights expert.