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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 16 November 2014


The clearest sign yet that the presidency is out to teach former Prime Minister Raila Odinga the political lesson of his life is to be found in Kibra constituency, where Kibera slum is to be found.
Raila represented Kibra then under Langata constituency for 20 years, but left it worse than he had found it in terms of infrastructure, amenities and services.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his strategists are said to be capitalising on Raila’s 20 years of what they term un-development of the area to make inroads. Uhuru has crafted a policy and strategy of developing Kibera in a record time and showing up the ODM and Cord opposition supremo as a man full of rhetoric (particularly vitenda wili) but empty of development action.
The development of Kibera is the president’s pet project, as the deputy president rarely if ever ventures there or seeks to address the majority of political persuasion to be found there, Odingaism and Cord compliance.
Observers are slowly waking up to the president’s strategy. Uhuru has visited Kibera a number of times in 2014, dressed so casually and mingling so easily with the slum residents that some mistook his forays as mere populism.
On his latest visit, Uhuru had arrived from a gathering of regional leaders in Ethiopia the same day, went to State House and changed and then off he went to Kibera.
On at least two occasions he was accompanied by cabinet secretary for Devolution and Planning Anne Waiguru and Governor Evans Kidero. The president has detailed Waiguru to literally physically clean up and develop a number of critical infrastructure projects, including tarmacking all roads. The National Youth Service which falls under Waiguru’s docket, has camped in Kibera building toilets that will be linked to the sewage system network.
Also roped into the developmental transformation of Kibra is Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi, whose organisation is under instruction from Uhuru to open a branch in the slum and bring services that the residents never in their wildest dreams expected to see next door to them any time soon. The bank is to operate 24 hours.
And on his side, Kidero has directed his health department to set up clinics in four areas spread within the area. Further, each of the health facilities will employ a minimum of four young Kiberans to engage in anti-malarial strategy  Kibera is being changed from an emphasis on treated mosquito nets to spraying, including of stagnant water. This was after studies established that the residents of Kibera convert the nets into bedding or towels.
Kidero has embarked on lighting the area and intends to build a police station next to the health centres.
The NYS is a formidable force when it comes to massive projects and chores, including the most thorough and disciplined street sweeping and clean-ups generally, not to mention, security backups.
Uhuru’s strategy in Kibera together with the county government is beginning to emerge: He is going to do for Raila’s former constituency what the opposition chief never even dreamed of for 20 long years, including five years as prime minister and co-principal of the grand coalition regime alongside with then President Mwai Kibaki. The gameplan is not only to bring development to Kibera but to, in the process, show up Raila as a lip-service leader who has been quite happy to keep Kibera desperately poor and as a slum barracks for rioter squads, goons and rent-a-crowd unemployed and hungry youths for ODM and Cord rallies in the city.
Kibera, eyewitnesses and insiders in Raila’s entourage informed Weekly Citizen, that when he visited the slum last week, he was visibly shocked at the emergent transformation. It finally dawned on him that what Uhuru is doing to him is the dismantling of his political persona and track record. Analysts say this is development terrorism.
Unlike Uhuru, Raila stumbled badly and often on his latest daytime tour of Kibera, almost falling to the ground only to be held by his aides. Where Uhuru jumps over open sewers but Raila had to be physically held and propped up.
Instead, Uhuru strategy is to transform the lives of as many Kibera residents as possible in the balance of his first term, with great expectations for a second term.
Equity Bank will roll out entrepreneurial initiatives in Kibera that are enjoyed in other parts of Kenya as well as bank thousands of unbanked Kiberans who did not even dare dream of being bankable even when Raila was prime minister.
Kidero is also in the mix in Uhuru’s pet project of upgrading Kibera. The Nairobi county government is helping wherever it can and ensuring that the recipients of its interventions are clear in their minds about the source.
Analysts say, development terrorism has come to Kibera, but the terror is all in one corner – the declining politics and fortunes of Odingaism. The question is, will Uhuru strategy to tame Raila in Kibera work.

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