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Audit of Jubilee puts CORD in a spot

POLITICS
By By JAMES MBAKA | Apr 27th 2014 | 5 min read
By By JAMES MBAKA | April 27th 2014
POLITICS

By JAMES MBAKA

On Thursday, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) released its official audit on the performance of the Jubilee administration over the last one year. However, the turn of events turned the cameras instead on CORD’s performance.

A question by one television reporter, on whether CORD had suggested policy alternatives for the criticism it was leveling against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership, irked former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka into making what some regarded as insulting ethnic remarks against the journalist.   

The CORD co-principal may have snubbed the reporter and even gone ahead to calm down the resultant rage following his quick apologies to Kennedy Mureithi and the media fraternity, but the question lingers on. Has the official Opposition really offered clear-cut interrogation of government programmes with alternative suggestions?

Experts do no think so. International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) director Ndung’u Wainaina says CORD has failed to interpret and implement the current Constitution architecture, which gives Parliament express opportunity to critically scrutinise and interrogate executive policies and offer alternative solution.

He says Parliament must work together and pursue a common oversight over the Executive by providing policy alternatives not only to keep the Jubilee government in check, but also deliver to the people who voted for it.

“The opposition coalition’s manifesto did not die just because CORD lost the election. They can translate it into policies as a counter to the Government,” he said.

His sentiments are echoed by analyst Haron Ndubi of Haki Focus, who attributes the weakness in the opposition to the lack of a common agenda between the coalition’s constitute parties. “They (ODM, Ford-Kenya and Wiper) seem to be in competition among themselves. Lack of a respectable senior in Parliament has left the coalition appear rudderless,” he says.

Mr Ndubi says there is no much whistle blowing by CORD, as one would expect of a vibrant and robust opposition on standby to take over government.

“Internal party disagreements have gnawed away the intellectual vigour expected from some members of the coalition, thus giving majority lightweights get away resulting in losing motions,” he adds.

However, Ford Kenya Secretary General Eseli Simiyu defends CORD’s performance and instead blames the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi of partiality, accusing him of frustrating the coalition’s performance. 

Dr Eseli Simiyu says the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi had become an extension of State House and ganged up with the Executive to frustrate CORD’s legislative agenda in Parliament. 

“Muturi has turned the Speaker’s seat into a position to assert dictatorship and muzzle the opposition. He must realise that Parliament is an independent body,” he said.

The Tongaren MP said CORD was not surprised that the National Assembly had been turned into a Jubilee abattoir to butcher democracy, saying with a neutral Speaker, the coalition would have performed relatively well.

During the Thursday press conference, CORD leaders accused the Government of failing Kenyans on security and the war on terror. Led by Kalonzo and Leader of Minority in the Senate, Moses Wetang’ula, the leaders dismissed the ongoing security swoop equating it to ethnic profiling of the Somali community. They further hit out at the Jubilee administration for being deeply rooted in corruption, rampant insecurity coupled with acute unemployment among the youth.

But while CORD fires salvos at the Government, little has been offered from the opposition quarters on how to confront such ‘dragonss’ and return the country on the path to prosperity.

While, for instance CORD is opposed to the state initiative to mop up illegal immigrants and suspected terrorists across the country, it does not suggest how the Usalama Watch programmes can be improved to secure Kenyans.

Wetang’ula, for instance, says the Government lacks an apt strategy to deal with terrorism and that war on terror is not won by sectarian swoops: “You do not fight crime by exhibiting archaic brutal force and especially on sophisticated crimes such as terrorism.”

The coalition had earlier opposed the Nyumba Kumi initiative, a programme driven by the state encouraging Kenyans to know at least 10 of their neighbours in a bid to identify suspected terrorists and criminals.

Wainana now urges opposition legislators to come up with policy alternatives, propose necessary amendments to Bills to make them public interest oriented. The ruling alliance lawmakers, he observes, should also, while supporting Government agenda in Parliament, look critically at government policies. 

However, Ndubi notes that to some extent, CORD, given that it is not the Government, has performed averagely well although in some instances, especially on matters of public policy, it had failed to provide intellectual leadership.

“In contributions to Bills, CORD performed averagely. They stood firm in opposing the media Bill although it was passed, they opposed the omnibus amendments which would have hurt the NGO sector and their perceived stand with the poor regarding the VAT law,” he told The Standard on Sunday.

Separately, Prof Peter Kagwanja of the Africa Policy Analysis Institute (APAI) says the absence of the immense influence of CORD leaders Raila and Kalonzo from Parliament has adversely affected the effectiveness of the opposition.

Kagwanja argues that the two cannot check the Government effectively from outside Parliament. The Opposition, he argues, is in disarray and has not really conceptualised what their task is in the current dispensation.

 “CORD never imagined losing in the last election. It leadership structure as it is currently constituted was to enable the coalition to take over government and not an opposition composition,” he says of what is ailing the opposition coalition.

 South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya said CORD has fought off the numerical strength Jubilee boasts to push for the public good, but said the coalition could have done better

“We cannot as CORD be blamed for failing in one way or another, we managed to bring before the House the VAT amendment Bill and more are lined up, but the truth that there is no executive will,” Nyamweya said. But Busia women representative Florence Mutua said CORD can do better than it has, to advance its manifesto.

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