Kenyan President Torn Between Combating COVID-19 And an Ugly Succession Battle

By Joab Apollo

“We need a revolution now!” shouted a group of disenchanted motorists at the famous Thika road in Nairobi, Kenyan capital city, after the police erected a roadblock in strict enforcement of the 8 PM to 4 AM curfew, one of the measures Kenyan government has adopted to stem the tide of the ravaging COVID-19 virus.

They were joined in this call for a regime change by thousands who took to Twitter under the hashtag #RevolutionNow to vent their frustration at the manner in which President Uhuru Kenyatta led government has been handling the scourge. Key among their concerns being a lack of an elaborate plan by the state to cushion the masses from the economic effects of the deadly virus.

Thousands of Kenyans, especially in the private sector, have lost their jobs following curfews and partial lockdowns effected to contain the spread of the virus. They have also raised alarm over alleged corruption at the country’s Ministry of Health whose officials are under fire for diverting billions of COVID-19 donor funds to private accounts.

“This country should be sold so that everyone can be given their shares to do whatever they want to do with it. How can people be this heartless to the point of stealing money meant for treating COVID-19 patients?” poses Julius Kairu, who has turned his car into a grocery after losing his job as an accountant.

And while President Kenyatta continues to feel the heat of a citizenry breathing fire and brimstone over inefficacy in handling the virus, he is grappling with yet another challenge which has torn his government apart: the 2022 Kenyatta presidential succession.

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His deputy, William Ruto, has broken ranks with him and formed a new party, United Democratic Alliance, which accuses Kenyatta of reneging on his pledge to rally behind Ruto in the 2022 presidential contest. Kenyatta, who had previously said he would hand over the mantle to Ruto upon his retirement, has recently shown signs of throwing his DP under the bus. His confidantes have openly called the DP a “thief” and went ahead to state that they will ensure that he doesn’t become the fifth President of the Republic of Kenya

Matters turned rocky for Ruto when President Kenyatta entered into a political deal with his bitter political rival Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement, a ceasfire known in Kenyan political parlance as the “handshake.” Ruto feel that by forging an alliance with Odinga, Kenyatta is elbowing him out of his succession race.

“Many Kenyans imprisoned in ethnic ghettos disguised as political parties and chaperoned by tribal kingpins are denied the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the political process that make critical decisions about their future.” He said on Sunday 2nd May, 2021, when he launched hisĀ  Bottom-top economic recovery plan, a departure from Kenyatta’s much-touted Big Four agenda whose key pillar is ravamping manufacturing as an economic growth anchor.

Supporters of the veteran Odinga, a former Prime Minister of the East African country, believe that this is the time for their man to ascend to the country’s highest political office. So much are they enthusiastic about the Odinga-Kenyatta bromance that they have christened it a “Mandela moment”, drawing parallels to the late former South Africa President Nelson Mandela who took the mantle of leadership in his seventies.

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But they will have to contend with a growing list of presidential hopefuls seen to have the ear of Kenyatta, who include Gideon Moi, son to Kenya’s second president Daniel Moi, Uhuru’s political godfather.

Kenyatta has brushed off the succession debate, stating repeatedly that his focus is on service delivery, but Kenyans will hear non of that.

“Don’t believe anything Uhuru says, he is a proven liar. Kenyans beware.” Warned renowned human rights crusader and politician, Boniface Mwangi.

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