Politicians should restore faith of Kenyans in political parties

McDonald Mariga, eyeing the parliamentary seat, at a rally in Kibra.

The imminent break-up of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) underscores the transient nature of our political formations. Once viewed as a formidable political coalition created to give Jubilee a run for its money, Nasa exists only in name today. Its constituent parties are Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Ford-K, Wiper and Amani National Congress (ANC).

While being interviewed on Point Blank, KTN’s talk show programme last week, ODM’s Secretary General Edwin Sifuna was unequivocal that “Nasa died on January 30, 2018 during the swearing-in ceremony of Raila Odinga as the people’s president and will be buried in Kibra”. It would seem ODM has not forgiven ANC, Wiper and Ford-K principals for not turning up for the mock swearing-in ceremony at Uhuru Park.

The merger of The National Alliance (TNA), the United Republican Party and other smaller parties to form the Jubilee Party behemoth in 2016 had its appeal.

The merger was premised on the assumption Jubilee would bridge the political divide in the country and bring Kenyans together on an ideological platform.

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As it turns out, that goal remains a far cry that the latest formation, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), seeks to give a try. Jubilee is on the path of self-immolation as groupings within the party, identified as Tanga tanga and Kieleweke pull in different directions.

The growing chasm is highlighted in the Kibra by-election campaigns in which a faction of Jubilee is supporting the ODM candidate; notwithstanding that Jubilee has sponsored its own candidate.

With such wrangling and the possibility that major political parties could crumble soon, the discreet formation of splinter parties ahead of the 2022 electoral contest cannot be ruled out. Yet such possibilities point to the fact that our parties are hardly ideological; they are vehicles of convenience for selfish political gain.

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In mature democracies like the UK and US, political parties don’t close shop on account of individuals’ self-interests and ambitions.

The US’s Democratic and Republican parties, formed in 1828 and 1854 respectively have never been stronger than today even in the midst of challenges posed by President Donald Trump’s style of leadership that has upset tradition.

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Kenyans look to politicians to emulate the US example and allow parties to become our ideological vehicles. Parties which collapse after every election cycle are built on quicksand; they amplify the immaturity of a democracy.

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Secretary General Edwin Sifuna