Legitimacy cannot be imposed on someone. Legitimacy, works more or less like respect, hatred or even love. For instance, you cannot force me to love or respect you despite it being the right thing to do. Legitimacy is an act of belief, and therefore voluntary. You cannot force me to believe that you are my leader or president.
Last week, Suba Member of Parliament and opposition chief whip John Mbadi chose to walk out of the National Assembly’s chamber after declaring that Kenya has no president. This is despite the fact that Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as the President of Kenya on November 28, to begin his second term and what is believed as his last stint in office. A very agitated speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi spoke with rage and ordered the NASA political out of office for his refusal to recognize Mr. Kenyatta as president. It is high time that the executive and the other arms of government realize that legitimacy cannot be imposed. It must be earned.
The man at the top office is unhappy because of rejection. He is such a dilemma that he has vowed to use the instruments of power to crack whip on the dissents and people who are opposing his presidency.
History has taught us that despite their legalism, authorities need to justify themselves. They need legitimacy more than they need legalism. And Kenyatta’s regime is a classic example in play. The belief of ‘legitimacy’ of a government lies with the people, and not the state itself.
The likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Junior King and even Mother Teresa commanded great respect across the world for their style of leadership. Although they did not occupy any political docket by the law, they were accepted by their followers because of their legitimacy. Their legitimacy was hinged on people’s acceptance than legalism of their leadership roles.
Here in Kenya, the opposition chief and NASA leader Raila Odinga commands a great following across the country. As a matter of fact, he gained over six million votes in the disputed August 8 elections. With such a gigantic following, he managed to persuade his followers that certain individuals do not have the right exercise power over them. And because a massive population cannot accept Uhuru’s regime, it suffers legitimacy.
Mr. Odinga led his supporters to boycott the repeat elections which Mr. Kenyatta was declared victorious. A section of Kenyans who boycotted the repeat elections are casting doubt over Kenyatta’s legitimacy not because they did not vote for him but because they feel cheated about the process that handed him power. They rejected it as flawed.
That by default leaves Kenyatta a ruler of only a portion of the population.