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Bigger political parties offer best chance to smaller tribes to lead

By Mark Bichachi | Published Mon, October 16th 2017 at 12:44, Updated October 16th 2017 at 12:46 GMT +3

The age-old question in Kenya has always been; will a smaller tribe produce a president? Can the tribes challenged by numbers raise a son to the highest office in the land? This is a question we hoped to cure by devolution. And a brilliant cure it was.

Give every region some sense of semi-autonomy and the ability to determine their own destiny. However, we miscalculated and assumed our crop of politicians would be creative enough to create economic advancement solutions.  However, they decided to lobby the national government for more money, creating a new focus on the top office.

Wrong focus

This focus meant that the entire country once again was focused on the presidency and thus the continued feeling that whoever is president will determine the wellbeing of the last villager in Kenya.

Begging the question; can that last villager in the last village ever make it to the house on the hill? The answer based on our tribal math has always been no, that last village can never raise enough numbers to be considered a principal in NASA. And their numbers meant they can’t negotiate any mileage to any high office.

In Tanzania, the biggest party with majority is the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the party that gave us Julius Nyerere and the acclaimed John Pombe Magufuli. CCM is a huge party, in my stay in Dar es Salaam for a year, I realised they had so many party offices you would think they are M-Pesa shops in Kenya.

This party has dwarfed CHADEMA for many years. This party has been the reason why Tanzania has lived in relative peace, albeit challenged economically. The strength of this party has almost always guaranteed that whoever it picks as its nominee would become president.

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And since the days of Nyerere, the party has followed a simple pattern, they have picked alternative presidents from the Islamic and Christian world.They have always selected a figure who comes from a non- major tribe. It is this party that has made the tribal politics in Tanzania nothing less than a by word.

The internal party democracy of CCM is the one thing that allows Tanzania to enjoy the much wished for access to power by the minority, an ideal we so crave in Kenya.  Further it is the internal party democracy of CCM that brought out the changes we are now seeing in Tanzania.

Neighbouring countries

In South Africa, there is the ANC, this is the party that determines who is president. Whoever wins the ANC ticket will be president, it is that simple. As such power is accessible for any leader who can win the imagination of the voters within the ANC’s party organs.

Any of the candidates jostling to replace Jacob Zuma can be president if they win the ticket with 90 percent certainty regardless of their tribe.

The one thing that both CCM and ANC have in common is this; they both have a system by which the mantle of power is handed over. Every one that takes power is compared to Mandela or to Nyerere, this institutional memory keeps them from falling over the edge.

It reins in its own leaders and makes the party responsive to the people, because the people expect the party ideals to be those the founders of the party stood for.That brings me to Jubilee. A strong Jubilee is a good thing for Kenya for as long as they can democratically choose a successor for their top leaders.

For as long as there is a next leader and a next, we can imagine that the party will have enough clout all over the country to be confident enough to field a candidate whose tribe is not easy to pronounce or little know like Mbeere, Isukha, Dorobo and of late Makonde.

We may finally have a way to get a Barack Obama moment, where an unlikely tribe candidate becomes leader of our great nation.

For NASA the question is simple; is there anyone after Raila Amollo Odinga? Any leadership that has no succession plan is a dangerous one. Let not this Joshua make the same mistake the Joshua of the Bible did.

For after him there was no successor and as such: all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Successor-ship is one of the signs of a good leader, so if Kenya needs anything, it doesn’t need secession, it needs succession.

 Mr Bichachi is a communications strategist

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Standardmedia.co.ke


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