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By itself, Jubilee cannot unite Kenyans

By Alexander Chagema | August 4th 2016

The signing of the Political Parties Act (Amendment) Bill 2015 was a godsend for the non-ideologues. In efforts to instil order in the largely disorderly world of politics, party hopping had long been frowned upon. Switching sides had the undesirable baggage of by-elections which nobody was keen to shoulder.

The President’s assent to the bill was largely seen as paving and smoothing the way for the merger of The National Alliance (TNA), the United Republican Party (URP) and smaller constituent parties to form the Jubilee Party (JP) without subjecting anyone to a by-election.

But that having been the initial vision, ultimately it benefits all legislators bearing grudges against their political parties, or driven by other overriding personal concerns to switch allegiance without breaking a sweat.

First to avail itself of the opportunity was the New Ford Kenya party, which announced its dissolution to join the proposed Jubilee Party a few weeks back. This was done faster than the architects themselves, TNA and URP could.

The party’s officials were however brought back in line after their demand for the Secretary General’s slot met resistance. And coming hot on the heels of emerging political realignments in the Western region in readiness for the 2017 elections, questions are emerging as to what prompted the premature move.

In the wider context, political realignments are not a new phenomenon. Taking the United States as an example, realignments have been a common feature going back to the 1800s. From the first and second party systems that saw power change hands between Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, the Democrats and the National Republicans, the advent of urbanisation in the 1900s and the American Civil rights movement that made many whites cross over to the Republican Party, realignments had far-reaching socio-political implications.

They were driven by a mixed bag of racial mistrust and in part by ideology as opposed to the individualism which seems to dominate our politics. Several factors inform the present realignments, but principal among them is self-preservation.

The hint that some individuals in powerful positions within the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy could be given direct nominations to put their party in a strong position in 2017 sparked protests and triggered survival instincts.

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Since the Kenyan legislator takes on the identity of his community when it suits him, I was not duly concerned when Governor Ken Lusaka, the New Ford Kenya chairman and governor of Bungoma County purported that his party chose to join a non-existent JP with the blessings of, and for the good of, the Luhya community.

Such generalisation is misleading if one considers that the Luhya community has 18 sub-tribes with different political persuasions.

As a matter of fact, the area in Western where Jubilee has point-men trying to sell its policies is Bungoma County. Busia, Kakamega and Vihiga counties remain a major headache for Jubilee.

Conversely, those claiming a new Jubilee Party will unite Kenyans are peddling falsehoods. Parties don’t unite people, individuals do yet, as it is, top party politics in Kenya is a brotherhood of merchants of oppression.

Their paramount concerns are to propagate clandestine agendas by whipping the emotions of a gullible, mostly illiterate and hungry electorate into doing their bidding.

Based on this, you find people of questionable character and motives playing with the intelligence of a certain community over the governorship of Nairobi County.

Rift Valley is divided and increasingly drifting apart in the directions of Kanu, Jubilee, Mashinani Development Party of Kenya and CORD. The illusion of Central Kenya unity was broken by Peter Munya after refusing to be herded along with ‘others’. Martha Karua has her following and I doubt she will fall head over heels in haste to join Jubilee. Peter Kenneth is playing safe. If I know Paul Muite and the Safina party, they are not joining Jubilee any time soon. Gitobu Imanyara hasn’t indicated his sympathy for Jubilee. Given this, what unity are we being harangued about?

Recent IPSOS polls indicated 60 per cent of Kenyans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. That direction is the way of dynasties and the caste system that Jubilee embraces. Theirs will be leadership by baton, no internal democracy.

Uhuru will pass the baton to Ruto then Ruto looks around for someone to pass it on; someone predisposed to return the favour later.

Where is the democracy in a party where positions 1 and 2 are already appropriated until the lease expires in 2032? That some people are so unambitious and willing to dance to some dull tune for 16 years is daunting.

The tallest mountain on earth has its peaks. The longest rivers have streams feeding them. This wisdom tells us Jubilee is a farce; for a river without streams to feed it dries up soon enough.

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