The future may not be bright nor may it be orange: it’s been a bad week for the Prime Minister Odinga, his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the Odinga family.
Monday was polling day in the Ikolomani by-election where New Ford Kenya’s candidate Dr Bonny Khalwale was fighting it out with ODM’s Shinali Bernard. The election was seen as a test for Raila Odinga, ODM, and in particular for gauging the popularity of Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi in Western Kenya.
Come Tuesday morning and The Standard heralded Bonny Khalwale’s victory over Shinali Bernard by 13,208 votes to 10,702 with the headline, ‘Bullfighter gores Raila man in poll’ supported by the sub-headline ‘Mudavadi axis in Western back to drawing board after humbling loss…’
With that PM Odinga announced that ODM was to postpone its grassroots elections for a week ‘to enable its branches in Western Province to prepare adequately as they had exhausted their energies in the Ikolomani campaigns’ (Daily Nation, May 25).
Wednesday was worse still for the Odingas. ‘Fidel Flashes Sword at Matatu’ was the front page headline in The Star, reporting that Raila’s eldest son Fidel(named after the Cuban revolutionary leader) had been involved in a scuffle with a matatu driver who had allegedly cut up Odinga Jr’s black Mercedes in Westlands. The matatu driver alleged that young Odinga had leapt out of his car, brandishing a sword and uttering that time honoured phrase of the almost-mighty, “Do you know who I am?”
This is not the first time Fidel Odinga has been in a spot of bother with the law. Back in May 2009 The Nairobi Chronicle released documents which purported to show that one Fidel C. Odinga (yes, you got it, Fidel Castro Odinga) had been found guilty of stealing $300 in the United States in 2000 and also convicted of possessing marijuana in 2002 in the same district of Maryland.
On to the year 2009 and Fidel was “adversely mentioned” by a Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture as someone who had benefited from a maize scandal. The parliamentary team said that the Odinga family and a personal assistant should be investigated to establish their role with three importation firms which were alleged to be involved.
Raila Odinga dismissed the parliamentary report as a “vendetta”, that it lacked integrity and said it was just a smear campaign aimed at settling old scores. How terrible, politicians using parliamentary reports (and reports to parliament) as a means of smearing their opponents and settling old scores, whatever next, no wonder the PM was shocked. He would never have done such a thing…
Prime Minister has also recently spent time in the United States. The Daily Nation also reported on Wednesday that questions had been asked in Parliament as to whether he had spent Sh602,000 per night of taxpayers money to stay in the luxurious Presidential Suite of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York when on a 10 day visit with a delegation of ministers and others.
The PM didn’t say he did and he didn’t say he didn’t, he just stated that MPs should not expect him to “stay at some backstreet hotel”. Quite right Prime Minister. He could have added, “Do you know who I am?”
Things could get worse for the Odinga family. If the US State Department and the UK’s Foreign Office were to be consistent in their “megaphone diplomacy” policy of recent years, a high profile Kenyan who had been “adversely mentioned” in relation to corruption (not found guilty you understand, just “adversely mentioned”, say in a parliamentary report), would have a travel ban slapped on them.