2022 General Election Was Not Free and Fair~Jimmy Wanjigi

In an exclusive interview with Nation on the current state of the nation, Mr Wanjigi explains why president Ruto needs to address the country’s debt situation which he terms as a crisis, even as he delves into politics.

He also explains his decision to defend Mama Ngina Kenyatta from President Ruto over taxes.

Mr Wanjigi who dumped Mr Odinga in the run-up to the last poll tells of what motivated him to exit the camp but backs the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader’s calls for dialogue in the reconstitution of the electoral agency to avert a possible disaster.

The Safina party presidential hopeful, however, defended President Ruto on his quest to have Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties fold into one formidable force, arguing that Kenya is ripe for two or three parties to break its ethnic barriers.

Q: What’s your take on the state of the country’s economy?

A: We are in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). It’s important that Kenyans understand that when in the ICU anything can happen. You may collapse completely or you may be resuscitated.
But normally recovery is not easy. We must be honest with ourselves. We have a country that is paying 70 percent of its revenue to debt.

In as much as the government talks of increasing its revenue from taxation, we know in a recession and the kind of state we are in, you are not going to get that money from taxpayers.

Q:What, in your view, is the immediate and long-term solution to address the situation?

A:Let us look at the law and anchor it to our borrowings. We must also find a way of stimulating the Kenyan producer.
I am not a believer that this is a time to squeeze Kenyans more through austerity.

The government should practice austerity in its consumption and not in its development.

But in consumption, we must get away from grandiose expenditure – buying new cars and flying everywhere in the world and doing all sorts of things about consumption.

As a government, we want to hear that you are stimulating growth. Bring in relievers – subsidies, as a caution.

Q:You came out strongly to defend Mama Ngina Kenyatta after the tax debate. Why?

Mama Ngina represents the foundation of independent Kenya. One does not uproot one’s foundation, that’s the end of a nation.
Mama Ngina is a national institution. She is a national treasure. There is a big difference between Mama Ngina and Uhuru Kenyatta.

My differences with Uhuru are based on policy and ideology. It has nothing to do with the Kenyatta family.

There is nothing personal here. Mama Ngina is Kenya’s first First Lady. She was the wife of Kenya’s first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Mzee Jomo and Mama Ngina are revered personalities in our history.

We must always draw the line between Uhuru and his parents. Uhuru has visited so much harm to Kenyans. Mama Ngina has not.

Q:But what really is your beef with Uhuru Kenyatta?

A:It’s not a personal beef. Many people like to make it as a personal beef. No, this is respect for leadership. When you are given a responsibility by Kenyans to lead them and make them prosper, if every time you are making a step is to disenfranchise the same Kenyans, then there is no way we have a meeting of minds. It was not personal but based on his policies like the accumulation of debt.

If the path he was taking was to make people poorer, how could I work with him?

For Raila, I know he doesn’t want to see a country of poor people. That’s why there is no way Raila and Uhuru’s minds meet.
I grew up with Uhuru, we were together in primary school, we were friends and so ours is not personal. We disagreed on policies and that’s why I backed out on Raila.

Q:You supported ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2017 but backed out in 2022, what influenced this move?

A:I did not support Raila in 2022 because he teamed up with Uhuru.

In fact, I have the greatest respect for my good friend but he decided to regress his politics by joining Uhuru who had been weak.

In fact, there is no ideology Uhuru shares with Raila, theirs was simply a marriage of political convenience.

Uhuru’s political sphere and Raila’s are very different and when he decided to work with Uhuru, you saw the results.

Q:Do you believe Mr Kenyatta did much to help Mr Odinga win the top seat?

A:I think he tried because it was in his interest. I don’t believe in the speculation that he had some other game. It was in his interest to support him and I’m sure he tried.

What I’m so glad about is that in the last election, it showed the limitations of the so-called system.
The Kenyan voter will always be supreme.

It shows you just how much, even if you are a president and you don’t deliver, you can lose your base.

He lost his base so in as much as he was trying to support my good friend Raila, he was coming with an empty basket.
In fact, at one point I recall I mentioned to Raila that if you are seen with him the votes are going away. It is better when you are not even with him.

Q:President Ruto has been accused by the opposition of seeking to return the country to a one-party State by pushing Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties to fold. What’s your view on this?

A:I don’t believe that. I don’t think Ruto is going in that direction. No. He is simply locking his next election.
He is moving progressively and is in the right direction.

Politically he is doing the right thing so that he can win re-election in 2027.
He wants to create his big party and his greatest hope is that the other side will be a coalition.

He is locking his support base into a party and this is a good political move but it must come with the backing of his promises.

If the economy is terrible, nobody would want to be near his party.

My view is that ODM and other large parties should be thinking in that light and not criticizing what he is doing but how do you find a way of cobbling up all these small parties and becoming one giant party.

That’s what will present a new picture for the next election – two giant parties and not coalitions.
That would excite the ground and do very well.

Q:Do you believe the August 9, 2022 presidential election was free, fair and transparent?

A:How could it be free and fair and we were blocked?
The minute you start games from the beginning it cannot be said to be free and fair.

Q:What’s your take regarding the ouster of the four dissenting IEBC commissioners known as the Cherera Four?

A:It leaves more questions than answers. We have never in the history of this nation, even in the most controversial times like 2007, had a commission that breaks up to that magnitude.

We can dismiss it on the basis that they were politically in one direction or appointed from one direction, but it just tells you that if there was no cohesion among these commissioners, how many hands were on them?

There were hands on both sides, hence it was not free and fair. There was no independence of the institution of IEBC that aptly represents our vote and puts all the eligible candidates on the ballot not putting barriers.

The fact that the commission was that divided it tells you there was a hand from outside that removed its independence.
So it can never be termed as free and fair.

Q:What’s your take with respect to the ongoing process to reconstitute IEBC which opposition has since dismissed and called for dialogue?

A:I would like to advise those who are doing it that we have seen the past when there has been an attempt to choose the referee single-handed

Any attempt to choose the referee single-handedly will be met with the resistance it deserves.

You cannot be two main players in a football match and you are deciding on the referee alone.

If the process is not viewed as inclusive it will fail. That was the basis for the demonstrations to remove Isaack Hassan’s team from the office.

At the time Jubilee was saying they would not be removed thinking their numbers in parliament would help but people went to the streets and that commission went and good laws were made.

It must be a process that is inclusive otherwise I can assure you it will be a disaster.

Q:Do you think Kenya should adopt the IPPG model of 1997 in the reconstitution of IEBC?

A:It was a very good model and it worked. Anything that is inclusive is best for Kenya.

Q:Your quest to run for president was halted by IEBC last year, what can you attribute it to?

A:We believe we were blocked. Excuses were given but we know some people wanted to panga (organize) IEBC to have a choice of two candidates.

But we introduced ourselves to Kenyans and got the opportunity to speak and be heard, not as much as we would have liked because the election was designed very early than it would be a two-horse race.

Q:Do you intend to form your own outfit or have Safina as your preferred party for 2027?

I’m still a member of the Safina party.

As you know I was an avid member of ODM and Safina gave me a home to contest for the presidency. I am not a party official of Safina but just a member and was the presidential candidate for 2022.

Since they gave me a home we would like to build the party but we are open-minded in terms of association with other like-minded parties.

I believe in party democracy and I’m not a fan of coalitions.

So I’m a believer in a two-party system. So if Safina eventually merges with others to form a big party that may be against UDA, I’ll be at the forefront to support that.

Azimio, Safina should also be thinking in that direction. We need to build two big parties like in the established democracies – Republican and Democrats in the US and Conservatives and Labour in the UK.

We need such two strong parties that transcend tribes and regions but develop a basic ideology that sustains them for many years to come.

We shall then have proper party democracy even in parliament and there will be no party hopping.

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