Mutahi Ngunyi: Three tricks Raila should learn from Kibaki

Prime Minister Raila Odinga should stop behaving like President Kibaki’s ‘‘house girl’’. The good president is taking it easy in his typical ‘‘kuji-enjoy’’ style, but this PM guy is too intense about work.

He is everywhere, doing everything. What is more, no body asked him to: It is not part of his brief as PM or as MP for Langata.

The man is just a restless being who has to keep busy. And the problem with his higgledy-piggledy style is that it exposes him. The more I reflect on Mr Odinga in ‘‘power,’’ the more ‘‘Moi-sh’’ he looks: selfish, unreliable and a turncoat.

Today he supports the opposition, when in ‘‘power’’ he tells us opposition is bad. When in the cold he supports civil society, when in ‘‘power’’ he tells us that civil society cannot be involved in constitutional review. The man is swinging like a pendulum!

But is this deliberate or is he doing it sub-consciously? I want to believe that Mr Odinga is looking for balance in his new role. And anyone in his position is bound to act like him -- higgledy-piggledy or ovyo ovyo (in Kiswahili).

However, and as he looks for balance, the PM’s problem is that he is unable to keep his mouth shut.

The confusion he is going through is, as a result, broadcasted to the public everyday to the horror of some of us.

And this is why the PM should borrow a few tricks from his political twin brother -- the President. Not because President Kibaki is better than him, but because of what one philosopher said: “… a wise man benefits more from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”

The first thing Mr Odinga should learn from President Kibaki is the politics of silence and scarcity.

When looking for balance, silence is a powerful political tool. In fact silence does not only aggravate your enemy, it annoys even the devil. Each time an opportunity is given to him to shut up, the PM should therefore grab it.

The Holy Bible says that “…even a fool, when he keeps quiet, appears wise”. In the case of Mr Odinga, his wisdom is becoming questionable because his mouth is all over. And the same can be said about his everyday appearance in the media. According to the law of supply and demand, scarcity increases the price.

The more you are in supply as a politician, the lower your price and the lesser the respect. Because he is in the media daily, this ‘‘tinga’’ man is losing the magic and the mystique. In fact, each time I see him on TV, I switch channels to avoid his government small talk.

The second trick regards the acquisition of an enemy. Every good politician has a worthy enemy. And, in the absence of one, you should create an enemy from nowhere.

President Kibaki understood this principle early and, today, he is a creation of high quality and hardworking enemies. The same testimony can be given by Fidel Castro who believed that the bigger your enemy, the tighter the bond between you and your followers.

In fact Castro believed that there was only one device for “keeping the spirit of the revolution alive.” That tool: a worthy enemy! If the PM is to make it as the fourth President of the Republic, he needs a good strong-headed enemy.

His father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, had T.J. Mboya as the enemy who built him. With such an enemy on your heels, you cannot afford to be lazy. He will sharpen your skills and keep you focused.

My hypothesis is that Mr Odinga is currently sloppy because he does not have an opposing force to energise him since he joined Mr Kibaki. And, unless he gets one, he is likely to grow lazy and unfocused.

In my view, Mr Odinga’s worthy enemy is not the VP, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka. The opposing force for Mr Odinga will come from the Kalenjin. And the person to lead it is likely to be Mr William Ruto.

In fact, if Mr Ruto led a Kalenjin rebellion against the PM, Mr Odinga’s ambitions for 2012 would be in danger. This is so because the Kalenjin are his political lifeblood.

The third trick is to commit to no one. President Kibaki has no loyalty to anyone, except his immediate family. And although politicians have a problem with this, it is an ancient rule of realpolitik.

This way, he is not beholden to anyone and he has the independence to act as he wishes. In my recent reading of history, I have realised that enduring republics were built by strong, visionary individuals.

In fact the Asian Tigers became economic giants because they were partly led by authoritarian leaders. To the contrary the PM is a groupie who believes in the ‘‘dictatorship of the proletariat.’’

Unfortunately, his team model has failed twice now because the captain is held hostage by the team members. In my view, therefore, the PM should abandon this ‘‘team thing’’ and establish hegemony as an individual.

He should break away from the bondage of Mr Ruto and the rest of the Pentagon power brokers. Then he can have the luxury to commit to no one.

And, while at it, he should remember the words of former President Moi: “… life is not an emergency.” As such, he should work hard, and play hard as well!

This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.