By Susan Chipanga
MARK Twain, an acclaimed American author wrote: “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”.
This timeless quote was brought to mind after intolerable criticism of Zimbabwe by Raila Odinga, Prime Minister of the Kenyan Government of National Unity whose ticket to power was signed by the blood of innocent people. Odinga’s moral right to condemn Zimbabwean elections is overshadowed by his coming into office as a result of the death of 1 500 people and the displacement of over 600 000 people.
On December 30, 2007 the chairman of the Kenyan election commission declared Odinga’s opponent, incumbent president Mwai Kibaki, the winner by a margin of about 230 000 votes. Raila challenged the results alleging fraud by the commission, but refused an election petition before the courts and urged protests, which plunged the country into one of the brutal and bloody post-election violence ever to be witnessed in recent history. Shamefacedly, the poor fellow has been blabbering on about Zimbabwe’s elections, violence, peacekeepers and for the country to be barred from regional bodies; a case some may attribute to being overwhelmed by the glare of the media after being in political obscurity for so long. Consequently, the whole of Africa and the world are regaled by the antics of a witless and hypocritical African politician whose propensity to expose himself unearths his want of tact and maturity in African politics.
Some who are not so harsh in their criticism of Odinga’s unwarranted utterances on Zimbabwe are easy to forgive him as he is a product of incarcerations, flights into exile and betrayal by erstwhile political allies which undoubtedly has made him a bitter man mad at the whole of Africa for not intervening on his behalf. Odinga, as a result, has made himself a champion of opposition politics in Africa after his backdoor entry to leadership in Kenya making him an emperor without clothes after Kenya’s recent history which someone said reads like a Shakespearian tale; full of dramatic intrigue, intricate conspiracies and king making plots.
Odinga’s unwarranted criticism of Zimbabwe might be borne from a need to outshine Mwai Kibaki, the Kenyan president who trounced him in the December election. But, Zimbabwe cannot bear the brunt of his inferiority complex in a bid to gain recognition in African politics. Someone should advise Odinga that the route he has taken is a dead end and neither is it going to absolve him of the blood that is on his hands as rightly pointed by the presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, during the recent African Union Summit in Egypt.
Maybe Odinga’s weakness is more to do with not acquainting himself with African history. He should start to appreciate that more is at stake than meets the eye in the Zimbabwean situation. If the sentiments he echoed during his inauguration are anything to go by, then he is in for a rude awakening in his quest to liberate Kenyans from neo-colonialism.
When Odinga was sworn in as Prime Minister of Kenya on April 18 2008, he told the gathering that “we will ensure that power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of many, not the few”. Robert Mugabe whom he is now alleging is a dictator was once the darling of the West until he decided to empower his people by distributing land, which was in the hands of a few whites to the majority of the landless blacks Kenya, like all other African countries, is no exception. It would want to address these historical imbalances and some have alluded that the chaos that Kenya witnessed is the result of historic injustices including land tenure systems and the unequal sharing of resources between the country’s more than 40 ethnic groups.
Other African leaders know that addressing the injustices born out of colonialism is at the core of all African problems and that sooner or later, these issues have to be addressed by each member country. The decisions made by African leaders at the AU summit, that is, wanting Africans to solve their own problems is born out of a realisation that abandoning Zimbabwe at this critical stage will set a bad precedent.
Some delusional African politicians like Odinga might not understand that sticking together with Zimbabwe is also for their future well-being. That, Mr Odinga, is the definition of Pan Africanism. It is not about calling yourself a Pan Africanist when your deeds are devoid of “ubuntu” as you were able to countenance the beheading, skinning, raping, murdering and torturing of innocent people for your own political gain.I am no religious fanatic but I do believe the good book offers sound advice in the case of looking at a straw in another’s eye whilst not considering the rafter in your own eye. It is evident Odinga is singing for the few morsels that the United States is dropping on his lap whilst mortgaging Kenya in the process. Reports indicate that the US government is negotiating base access agreements with the government of Kenya that will allow American troops to use military facilities when the United States wants to deploy its own army in Africa. So at the right intervals Odinga has to make the right noises on Zimbabwe so as to appease his benefactors. Shame on you Odinga!
Odinga is a disgrace to the continent, which has produced notable statesmen like Nelson Mandela who spent all his life fighting for the liberation of his people and Robert Mugabe who is fighting for the total emancipation of his people. What has Odinga to show for himself, except bloody hands, which no doubt soiled his reputation of ever being regarded as a statesman. Instead of being fixated with what is happening in Zimbabwe, Odinga should be concerned with healing his own country where thousands still remain displaced, traumatised and reluctant to return to the their former homes because the horrors they witnessed are forever etched in their minds. Odinga will remain an overly ambitious politician who would stop at nothing to achieve his political ends. He should keep his tainted hands off Zimbabwe.
BREAKING NEWS: China and Russia Veto Zim Sanctions.