ODM leader Raila Odinga and a new team of strategists have crafted a multi-pronged tactic to discredit President Uhuru Kenyatta’s first four years in power.
The strategy, rolled out by a newly formed strategic group and a strike force––both in his inner circle––aims at massively stepping up pressure to unseat Jubilee.
The opposition chief and his “Dream Team” have pitched the themes of economic exclusion and sabotage, devolution, historical injustices and mega graft as their new rallying calls for Jubilee’s removal.
Raila electrified the Maasai community in a two-day blitz in Narok county last week, citing the historical land injustices the community has endured and Jubilee’s failure to implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Report.
Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta (TNA) said Maasais have stuck with Raila because of his efforts to conserve the Mau Forest that cost him the Presidency in 2013.
“Raila seems to be very sensitive to the plight of the Maasai, while the others are actually out to exploit them. That is a very strong magnet that pulls the Maasai towards him,” ole Kenta told the Star.
Ole Kenta is among TNA elected leaders who have refused to join Uhuru’s new Jubilee Party machine.
The strategic messaging and relegation to the sidelines of the old guard previously in Raila’s inner circle are among a host of strategies the opposition supremo is laying for his 2017 battle against Uhuru.
“We have known Jubilee’s soft underbelly. Mention the TJRC report that implicated them and they run helter-skelter. With the new strategic messaging, we will confine Jubilee to two regions,” an influential ODM official told the Star.
The two regions are Uhuru’s Central backyard and Deputy William Ruto’s Rift Valley turf.
The strategy appears to have partially worked in Narok, where the former Prime Minister whipped up the emotive land issue as it affects the Maa community at a huge rally on Friday.
He also accused senior government officials of siphoning revenue from the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
Raila is fighting to ring-fence his traditional bases in Nyanza, Coast and Western and excite new voters in pastoralist and marginalized communities, particularly in the Northeastern region.
Addressing a mammoth rally in his Kisumu bastion on Saturday, Raila said Nyanza had suffered economic marginalisation, ethnic discrimination and political oppression for years.
Raila claimed the three economic zones created under the Grand Coalition government in Lamu, Mombasa and Kisumu were being shifted to Naivasha, which is only 76km from Nairobi––Kenya’s economic powerhouse.
This was also the message he communicated as he went through the sweltering heat of Taita Taveta and Kwale almost a week ago.
Before Raila traveled to Kisumu, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho had already set the tempo for the ODM crusade.
He said Jubilee’s economic exclusion and sabotage include flooding Kisumu with cheap imports of Chinese fish and moving the container ports of Mombasa to inland ports.
“The port is moving to a different part of the country through a policy that remains not-too-well disguised. That is economic sabotage … Rice is being imported from Pakistan in exchange for tea exports. That is economic sabotage,” Joho said.
Raila and his team also claim JP is fighting devolution and is unable to faithfully implement the Constitution.
The ODM team also claim Jubilee is irredeemably corrupt, and cites the Sh1.9 billion National Youth Service scam and the alleged loss of the Sh250 billion Eurobond cash.
In fact, Cord has turned the “tunakula nyama” remark by President Kenyatta, in a sharp retort to Raila in Narok, to depict Jubilee as a severely corrupt administration, insisting he was justifying the “it is our turn to eat” mantra.
During the burial of Maasai political kingpin William ole Ntimama on September 14, Uhuru hurled the barb at Raila, saying JP was eating the meat of incumbency while the Opposition was only salivating.
The Jubilee team has been trying to make inroads in Cord safe seats, especially in Kisii, Ukambani, Western and Coast.
However, Cord think tanks believe the real battlegrounds and the 2017 swing vote lie with the pastoralist, the Somali and Northeastern region.
The ODM team seeks to portray the government handling of the war on terror as a public relations disaster to thwart JP’s reaching out to the Somali community.
They are focusing on the massive 2014 crackdown on alleged terror sympathisers in Eastleigh and their detention at the Kasarani Stadium that stirred an international human rights outcry.
But Raila has also relegated the old guard in his inner circle to the sidelines of his new, aggressive political game plan and is working with more youthful leaders.
In Kisumu, Raila told off critics who say that he is not keen on youthful leadership and proudly introduced ODM chairman John Mbadi, secretary general Agnes Zani and secretary for Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi.
Raila said Wandayi was a match for Jubilee majority leader Aden Duale––known for passionately pushing through government business in the National Assembly.
For some time now, Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo and Nominated MP Oburu Odinga have been missing from Raila’s events.
The strike force, also known as the War Council, are people who can “take the war to the Jubilee doorstep” and have the language to do so.
They include ODM treasurer Timothy Bosire, Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, and Dagoretti South MP Simba Arati.
This strategic group designs messages and issues responses to opponents.
This group also comprises Mbadi, Wandayi and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed.
Then there are the youthful and energetic leaders who can easily connect with the youth: Mombasa Woman Rep Mishi Mboko, her Kilifi counterpart Aisha Jumwa and Kajiado South MP Elija Memusi.
On Saturday the ODM leader got a boost in consolidating his Nyanza backyard following the return of ODM MPs who had decamped after chaotic nominations in 2013.
These included Migori Governor Okoth Obado and Muhoroni MP Onyango K’Oyoo, both from the People Democratic Party. There was also Awendo MP Jared K’Opiyo, Kisumu West’s John Olago Aluoch from Ford Kenya and Kuria East’s John Magaiwa.