Raila’s type of crash and burn strategy and his predilection for “Nusu Mkate” power arrangement means that Kenyan opposition politics is dying a slow and a painful death.
After he successfully forced a coalition government in 2008,every party that loses in National General Elections now only dreams of how it can be accommodated within the structure of government to share the “offals” of power.
Before that,his NDP party chose to sleep with the enemy,the ruling party,Kanu,than spend its days in opposition.
The “Nusu Mkate” arrangement with Kanu never worked when Moi bypassed him as his chosen successor in favour of the current President.
His Crash and Burn politics saw him leave Kanu in huff to join the now energised opposition that he had left behind,in a way of saving face and reseeking relevance in flux that is Kenyan politics.
The rest is now history.
He joined NARC government,only to realise the MOU that had promised him “Nusu Mkate” had been trashed by Kibaki.
When the history of how opposition politics was finally killed in Kenya,one name will feature very prominently among the chief villains; Raila Amolo Odinga.
When terminally ill patients get closer to their last breath they grow agitated.
Death is the most dramatic moment in human life, after birth.
In the last two weeks, the opposition has been giving signs of being terminally ill.
Democracy without opposition is a
A democratic president must
have someone who says “I don’t like your ways, I don’t like how you do it, I don’t like you”.
This is part of democracy.
But when this “I don’t like you” is taken to the streets there are two possibilities: one of the two players in the game, government or opposition, is dying or is already dead.
Could the opposition be dying?
Is it in ICU?
Is the saba saba rally one of its last kicks?
What other options does opposition have after the saba saba rally if the Jubilee government refuses to budge and treats opposition as inconsequential noise makers?
What is their exit strategy if call for ‘Arab spring’ in Kenya fails to draw in Kenyans to anarchy.
The opposition seems to be stampeding itself into a culdesac.
After several agitation rallies scheduled in CORDS strongholds,the operating theatre is set in Nairobi’s saba saba rally, where big operations are carried out.
The doctors are the voters.
The patient, called Opposition, is ill.
The name Opposition does not come from Opondo, but it is the name the thinkers of democracy gave it.
There are winners, called government, and losers, called opposition.
The drafters of the Constitution had this in mind.
Perhaps they didn’t foresee how difficult it would be for most of us in Kenya to learn to say ‘No’ and to learn to hear ‘No’ for an answer when your outfit has been out voted..
We don’t like the word ‘No’.
We often hear things like: “Are you coming to my party?”
“Well, maybe”. Or “I’ll try.”
Somehow this word ‘No’ sickens us,and when it comes from the voters mouth(ask one,Hon. Kimunya,how it feels to be rejected by voters! He wrote them an unpleasant farewell note when they showed him the door at his Kipipiri Consituency) it sounds bad and
As we don’t like the word ‘No,’ we tend to always end up compromising.
In politics, this takes the shape of “Nusu Mkate” coalitions.
In 2008 we had a deep crisis, and we ended up having a coalition government for 5 years.
But coalitions aren’t the ordinary government structure in Kenya, or at least not since 2013.
Coalition is a political marriage of convenience,where your in-laws become your blood relatives.
You mother-in-law becomes your
biological mother and your daughter-in-law your own daughter.
Coalitions are essential in three types of democracies: In small party democracies, like Germany, where coalition government is the norm, as it is rare for any of the parties to win
an unqualified majority in a national election.
Second, in old and tired democracies, like Italy or Greece, where parties have lost their original ideological weight and beauty and all look the same, just like very old men, past
There is no big difference between them, and if they had an ideology they most probably forgot what it was all about.
Third, dysfunctional or crisis-plagued
democracies, like Kenya in 2008, or Zimbabwe soon after, or Ukraine in 2014 or the United Kingdom from 1931 to 1940, where a coalition
government known as the National
Government was appointed to resolve a deep crisis.
In Kenya we have a very small institutional memory.
A five-year coalition has made us
believe that we should have every single politician in power,who is not shackled to the nonsense of ‘I was not consulted’.
It wasn’t like that before 2008, and it shouldn’t be like that after 2013.
The Constitution’s drafters made it clear; they said “whoever loses is out of both government and parliament”.
Under the new Constitution, coalition would only arise in two situations:
First, by free and magnanimous decision of the winner.
This has happened in some counties, where winners have brought on board their defeated rivals.
The second situation occurs when the
opposition holds the majority in parliament.
In the latter case, there is no way a president can govern this country without a parliamentary majority, unless he brings the opposition on board and forms a coalition.
The presidency in Kenya is almost absolutely powerless with a reluctant parliament.
It is like being forcefully married to a reluctant spouse,who is also a boxer.
So what is the way out?
The opposition needs to learn to become ‘constructive opposition’, not destructive.
The opposition needs three things: ideology,vision and agenda.
A real ideology that gets us out of the ethnic trap; a vision to have some goals to strive for; and a clear agenda that goes beyond ‘power’ and keeps our hope for better days alive.
This sounds theoretical, but there is nothing more practical than a good theory: election is a matter of numbers, and unless there is
something else than just ethnic appeal the numbers will remain largely unchanged, and no support will be gained outside foreseen
Both opposition and government need to tap into local government structures and get their agenda realised through them.
This is why the biggest chances for CORD to become successful are found in Nairobi, Kisumu,Machakos, Mombasa and Kakamega.
If these counties become successful examples of devolved development and focused progress then CORD will have sent out to the whole country a message that is loud and clear: We can do it!
The chances of Jubilee are still bigger, for they handle many counties but more importantly the national economic policy.
All eyes are on the new Budget.
The sabotage of CORD-held counties would be the silliest folly Jubilee could fall into.
The devolved structures are designed in such a way that regional growth translates almost immediately into national growth.
Let the regions compete and see who’s best.
This healthy competition is what the drafters had in mind.
This can be ‘smelled’ throughout
The opposition is not dead; it can’t be dead with the Constitution we’ve got.
The death of the opposition means
Therefore, the saba saba threat sounds like a tantrum from cry-babies.
We should think twice.
Innocent lives may lost in these tantrums.
Opposition politics maybe weakened.
Then, in a few years we will start
asking ourselves: When did the rain start beating us?
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®