‘New normal’ leaves Musalia as only man standing

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi. Photo/FILE

David Kikaya 

The phrase  ‘New Normal’ – has gained traction in Kenya since Covid -19 bequeathed it to us. 

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe could easily patent it. In the hitherto fore normal, the friendly and cultured Kenyans were used to warm hugs and firm handshakes, epitomised by the photogenic Handshake on the steps of Harambee House between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Amolo Odinga on March 9, 2018.

It is this handshake that has given Kenyans relative peace, culminating into the ‘Building Bridges Initiative’ (BBI). 

It is also likely to give us a referendum leading to constitutional amendments Uhuru intimated in his June 1 to mark the 57th Madaraka Day. The speech was well researched, written and eloquently delivered. 

The ‘New Normal’ is also very closely associated with Raila of an opposite sort. Street demonstrations, rowdy rallies spiced with stone missiles, have been exported to the cities of United States. 

Kenyans are as yet to get used to the Political New Normal championed by ANC Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi.

Students of International Relations would be forgiven for branding this approach, ‘Musalia Mudavadi’s Quiet Diplomacy’.

The jury is still out on how successful this none confrontational approach has been.

‘Quiet Diplomacy’ was a practice that was popularised by a Non-Governmental Organisation accredited to the United Nations known as The Friends World Committee for Consultation – Quakers.

The genesis of it was the conviction that in a conflictual situation, you achieved more by dialogue devoid of brinkmanship and out of the glare of cameras, tantamount to ‘playing to the gallery’. The UN has domesticated the practice in its frequent Peace Missions.  

Kenya was a beneficiary of this ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ following the disputed elections of 2007 that gave us the Grand Coalition Government of President Mwai Kibaki and premier Raila.

It will be recalled that Mudavadi led the pro-Raila team in the Kofi Annan-chaired mediation exercise with their protagonists, the pro-Kibaki team led by Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua. 

In the former camp were, Siaya Senator James Orengo, Sally Kosgei and Deputy President William Ruto.

In the latter camp were Senator Moses Wetangula, the late senator Mutula Kilonzo and Senator Sam Ongeri.

The current political dispensation gives credence to the maxim that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies.

Critics have admonished Mudavadi for not jumping onto the bandwagon of Uhuru-Raila-Gideon and Kalonzo.

This criticism became vitriolic when Mudavadi refused to join the Francis Atwoli-choreographed team of some Western politicians at his residence in Kajiado.

It was argued that this would have given Mudavadi the platform from which he would have been catapulted into the perceived, ‘Winning Team’. 

Proponents insist that Mudavadi is the, ‘Only Man Standing’. Others go further to affirm that he is the only ‘Voice of Reason’ that speaks truth to the government of the day as the ‘Official Opposition’.

Joining in the evolving formation would be tantamount to rolling back Kenya into one-party State devoid of the constructive Opposition that he has become associated with. 

The fact that Mudavadi is not combative by leading demonstrations in the streets of Nairobi, disrupting business in running battles with the police and leaving death and injury in the milieu as he retreats to the safety and comfort of his residence should be understood as the ‘New Normal’ politics of the day. - The author is a professor of International Relations [email protected]

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