Do not turn our political parties into special purpose vehicles

Jubilee Party's Nominated MP Sabina Chege. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

I pity Sabina Chege. When the history of Jubilee Party is written, at least a footnote will be reserved for her, either for being too ambitious or too innocent to be the person who helped snuff life out of the party whose symbol is a dove.

The former Woman Representative for Murang’a decided to bite the hand that fed her and ousted former President Uhuru Kenyatta as the party leader. An act of courage, or impetuous missteps of a “child”? Niccolo Machiavelli advises in his book, ‘The Prince’ that never fight wars of conquest. When the politics of siege mentality kick in in the mountain, together with her comrades, they will be carved like carcasses fit for hounds.

After the repudiation of Jubilee Party in Mt Kenya region after the last General Election, it was common knowledge that it would only take a matter of time before Central Kenya begins to suffer buyer’s remorse. With the indicators of the economy in the red, the ethnic elite of Mt Kenya will certainly start using the government, generally, and UDA in particular and its allies as a bogeyman to get even over the humiliation that was August 9, 2022. This is where Sabina and her “comrades in crime” will come in.

With 32 elected members, Jubilee would have been the most powerful unit in Parliament. They would have held the final say on how parliamentary business is transacted. They would have been the ultimate bride that every side would have broken the bank and burnt the midnight oil for. But they lack strategic patience. They have been unable to stem the anti-government tide that is now mounting in Central Kenya, and they have also shied away from holding an NDC. They have resorted to playing legal ping pong.

If the Sabina team genuinely wanted to support the President, they should have formally withdrawn from the Azimio coalition. If the withdrawal proved hectic and they were certain that they were sick and tired of Azimio, they should have vacated their seats and sought a fresh mandate. That way, even the President would know that in that team, he had friends indeed. But with their hearts in government while still legally in Opposition reeks of cowardice; the all-too-common self-preservation. But even if they could choose self-gratification over fidelity to the law, then let our institutions come alive in furtherance of the law, not to interpret it to serve sectarian political bonga points.

What the ruling by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula has done is to reward a lack of fidelity to the law. Recognising one faction as a parliamentary party to the exclusion of the other faction undermines the spirit of common good and constant compromise that is incidental to constitutional democracy, openly promoting the ideology of a different party without any sanctions at all. I disagree with the Speaker’s ruling. I want to see rulings from the chair that help us become a more stable and more perfect democracy. From where I sit, the Speaker has opened Pandora’s box. It’s a ruling that is going to weaken the institutionalisation of political parties as critical vehicles of political expression.

It’s here that I paraphrase the words of the late Elijah Mwangale; even if the Speaker will not review his decision on the Jubilee matter, I know he has heard me. The other office to illuminate the spotlight on is the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP). I think the Registrar of Political Parties is one institution that has disappointed Kenyans with such predictable consistency regardless of which administration is in office.

The ORPP must at the very least strictly enforce the law on party discipline. If a party has not followed the procedure of leaving a coalition, we need to see value for money -we want ORPP to put its foot down. For, procedure is the handmaid of justice. To conclude where I started, if the Jubilee rebels have a conscience, then let them vacate their seats if they can’t follow the Political Parties Act.

Mr Mwaga is the convenor of the Inter-parties Youth Forum. [email protected]