The failure by Cord to meet the one million signature cut-off required to initiate the Okoa Kenya movement marks the latest in a series of self-inflicted setbacks that continue to undermine the coalition’s political future.
For starters, it is difficult to fathom how Cord could have bungled Okoa, an initiative it launched with extravagant fanfare two years ago, and which would have, ideally, had a significant bearing on its own prospects in the General Elections next year.
The Okoa collapse demonstrates that Cord was never serious about the referendum initiative in the first place, that this was never about the real issues facing Kenyans. In fact, Cord’s latest debacle reinforces the view this was a political contest between Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The collapse of Okoa Kenya depicts an Opposition coalition that is yet to heed the lessons of its defeat in 2013. True to character, Cord is now blaming IEBC. This is hardly surprising given that Cord has over the last three years engaged in a systematic and sustained smear campaign against the electoral body.
The fact of the matter is that Cord has failed to meet a basic legal requirement governing a referendum as laid out in the Constitution.
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Article 255 clause (1) specifies the issues that may form the basis of a referendum to amend the Constitution.
Suffice it to say that where the amendments proposed for referendum do not fall within the ambit of clause (1), the Constitution provides two avenues for amending the Constitution through a referendum that is either through parliament or a popular initiative such as the Okoa Kenya.
Article 257 (1) clearly stipulates that amendments proposed for a referendum through popular initiative must be signed by at least one million registered voters. Further, Article 255 (2) requires that before a proposed amendment to the Constitution is approved through a referendum, it must garner the support of at least twenty per cent of registered voters in at least half of the counties who vote at the plebiscite.
It must also be supported by a simple majority of voters in the referendum.
Over and above the political embarrassment suffered, the failure to meet this basic threshold for its Okoa initiative has exposed how seriously flawed Cord’s political narrative is. Cord never tires to remind Kenyans how Jubilee has ‘failed’ since coming to power.
How come then Cord was unable to enlist the support of ‘disgruntled’ Jubilee supporters? And how is it that the much vaunted Cord strongholds could not yield even a mere one million voters despite the fact that Raila Odinga garnered over five million votes in the last presidential election?
The answer to these questions is simple: the original plan by Cord was to use Okoa Kenya as a ploy to destabilise the Jubilee government. When the mass action designed to give this strategy traction came a cropper, Cord turned to the now familiar narrative about elections being rigged and so on.
That Okoa Kenya has failed is enough reason for Cord to re-think its 2017 game plan and more so, whether it is time to abandon the referendum push and instead focus on the General Election.
More importantly, it is an opportunity for the electorate to see through the veneer of lies, deceit, opportunism and lack of a credible vision for Kenya, as the traits defining Cord.
That so much time and money has been expended in a futile exercise goes to show just how much Cord is out of sync with real issues facing Kenyans.