How lack of political parties' philosophy fuels culture of corruption

[Photo: Courtesy]
As I watched the Madaraka Day celebrations unfold last Friday, I noticed no one was talking about Jubilee, NASA or any other political party. In the meantime, Jubilee’s 2017 election 10-point manifesto has since changed to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.

But that’s beside the point. Today, I revisit the nature and organisation of political outfits after independence. More closely, how political parties were organised then, and compare them to the new political parties that are formed only around election time, particularly after the multi-party politics in 1992.

In Kenya’s history, the only political party that has sustained its political philosophy is Kanu. Since 1963, the Kenya African National Union (Kanu) has proclaimed the Democratic African Socialism, a belief in sharing economic resources in the traditional African way.

This thinking is distinct from classical socialism since it centred on a belief similar to Tanzania’s Ujamaa. But in the Sessional Paper N0. 10; ‘African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya’; widely attributed to being the blueprint that justified exclusion of arid areas, founding President Jomo Kenyatta rejected both western capitalism and eastern communism and declared Kenya a non-aligned country.

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The philosophy

Thus, the concept of this African Socialism philosophy might have originated from Kanu’s Manifesto. In 1961, Mr Kenyatta had just been released from prison, and when confronted by Britain’s ITN news reporter about his post-independence philosophy, replied; “Good neighbourliness and minding other peoples’ welfare”. Of course, at a much later stage, retired President Daniel Moi introduced the Nyayo Philosophy of peace, love and unity in the mix.

In ‘Politics of Betrayal’, Joe Khamis, a former MP declared, “ there was nothing African and certainly nothing socialist about Kanu’, thus pouring cold water on the philosophy of the party that ruled Kenya for close to four decades. Party stalwarts like Tom Mboya and Jomo Kenyatta had moved closer in thought to being more pro-western and vehemently anti-communist; a doctrine that made Kenya a capitalist state where ownership and private wealth was encouraged.

Despite the flip-flop on the principles of its philosophy, Kanu generally maintained  that African Socialism remains its philosophy. Currently, I don’t hear much about African Socialism, though probably because the party itself does not inherently believe in that philosophy. This weak foundation in as far as steering a party on a known philosophy might have led to less interest by contemporary parties to adopt philosophical doctrines.

Today, the political parties not only lack any forms of philosophical thoughts, but hardly is there any set of beliefs that unites its adherents. This probably explains why parties disappear as quickly as they are formed. Reflecting on the past trends, it is easy to bet that in a years’ time, we shall start hearing of new alliances and parties being formed.The spirit of the handshake certainly makes this possible.

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Social Media

Jubilee and NASA or their affiliates will end up in the annals of Kenya’s history, forgotten, never to be mentioned again like the Party of National Unity PNU or the National Rainbow Coalition that propelled Mwai Kibaki to power in 2002. Could this be the reason for Kenyans’ general lack of inner conscience to respect the values that are shared in accordance with our Constitution?

The fabric of society is therefore disintegrating because we have no shared philosophy. The only thing we agree on is let everyone “eat” public funds. A video circulating on Social Media recently showed a woman from western Kenya (presumably), wondering why her kinsmen working at the National Youth Service never took part in the Sh9 billion heist.

This lack of national values emanates from the failure of sustained and nationally agreed upon political and philosophical thoughts. Political philosophy cannot be prescribed legally.The alliances that are likely to happen in the face of the handshake are to be coalitions of convenience.

The choices people are going to make will not be determined by any form of underlying belief or philosophy, but rather, people are likely to choose their leaders based on ethnicity or on whatever little funds they can squeeze out of their candidates of choice.

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Mr Guleid is a governance consultant and the chairman, FCDC Secretariat; [email protected]

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