A question of blinks first.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, in an unprecedented courageous move, last week demanded lifestyle audits of all leaders. The audit was to begin with the President, Deputy President, all governors and cabinet secretaries cascading down to all levels in the civil service. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, swiftly responded by thanking the President for accepting a lifestyle audit and immediately dared Deputy President William Ruto to subject himself to a such scrutiny.
Speaking in Mombasa, he referred to an un-named politician whom he accused of roaming the country aimlessly and dishing out big money to become President in 2022. Raila said the politician was living beyond his means because his salary is known. He also proposed that the lifestyle audit be conducted by an independent body, most likely foreign. Using an analogy, he intimated to the President that there is some prey that cannot be hunted by dogs and urged him to use a lion.
To be fair to Raila, this is not the first time he has overtly questioned Ruto's lifestyle. It has been a continuous theme, especially after the two fell out during the Grand Coalition Government and Ruto mastermind Raila's two defeats in 2013 and 2017.
Raila however was not expected to 'bell the cat' so soon after the handshake or rapprochement with Uhuru. This could be foreboding to the Jubilee coalition, some of whom for some time now have been grousing about the 'Raila Effect' on the coalition. Are the gloves off and are the two going to engage in a bare-knuckle political duel?
The response from the Ruto camp honchos is astonishing! In an alarming move, they have looked past Raila and gone hammer and tongs for the Kenyatta family. In a statement from Ruto infantryman and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi has demanded that 'the lifestyle audit ordered by the President be extended to include an inspection [of assets] acquired by Uhuru's father, former President Jomo Kenyatta. It is as cheeky as it is mischevous! Another Jubilee senator, Ledama ole Kina, has demanded implementation of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report.
Essentially, what they are telling the President is 'now that you have decided to take our man or men to the cleaners, we have opted to exercise our right to subject you to the same ritual first!' Talk of visiting the sins of the father upon the son! The gloves are off and the game plan is to sink the anti-corruption crusade midstream.
All eyes are now on Uhuru. How he responds to these ultimatums or veiled blackmail will determine Kenya's future. It is not however the first time the URP wing has issued a similar threat. During the NYS1 there was an attempt to rope in a company owned by the President's sister and cousin. NYS2 first attempted to rope in the President's maternal uncle and now has the audacity to attempt to interrogate actions of founding President Jomo Kenyatta.
If Uhuru were to give in to ultimatums, blackmail and or extortion, it would immediately and automatically make him a lame duck President. This is the very thing he has tried to avoid ever since reelection in 2017. Kenyans have in the last year witnessed an aggressive focused President intent on leaving a legacy, despite severe challenges from the lords of corruption and impunity. This has not endeared him to them and they have now decided to take the bull by the horns.
Currently it is a question of who blinks first! In the words of Edmund Burke, 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' The President must stand firm and steadfast in the fight against corruption. He must not relent, otherwise, the battle is lost. That corruption is viciously fighting back not unexpected. The struggle continues!