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How Jubilee Party was set to fail right from inception

By Mohamed Guleid | Apr 24th 2017 | 3 min read

The fiasco that was last week’s Jubilee’s Party primaries was that of wilfully failing to anticipate, borne out of hubris, period.

Political parties hold their party elections in different ways. In Kenya, party primaries are conducted using an open primary method where anybody with a national identity card can vote. This definitely is a recipe for chaos. No proper planning can be done when nobody knows who will vote in the first place. But Jubilee thought it knew better than everybody.

Ask yourself, why did Jubilee nearly implode? While wooing us to fold our parties and join the Jubilee Party juggernaut, the Jubilee leadership bamboozled us with the technological wizardry of a think-tank hired to get the nuts and bolt together.

It looked convincingly fresh. I even believed that the party of the Young Turks and the dot.com generation was finally shaking off the inefficiency of the analogue systems by embracing modern technology.

In the PowerPoint presentation complete with charts and tables was an organisation planned to win; there was a mission and a vision; there was precision; there was attention to all the details you can imagine. Of course some of us jumped ship.The biggest loser after Friday, I am afraid was Jubilee. It is only now that I realize that all the funfair was just a show-off.

Stupidity Paradox

So what could have gone horribly wrong with the political behemoth that just last week had been laughing at ODM’s shambolic Busia County nominations? President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cancellation of the results and the announcement of fresh dates masks a crisis of confidence that is seeping through the party.

It is a party hierarchy that was so much out of touch with the reality.

In their book The Stupidity Paradox, the Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work, Mats Alvesson and Andree Spice describe the mistakes organisations make in recruiting experts from the academic world to improve efficiency and increase output in the performance. Jubilee, in particular, employed technocrats from the academic world to draw up the party’s strategy.

After all, wasn’t this the digital party?

The book casts light on many of the assumptions about how smart organisations are run. “Many organisations, it appears, claim that they rely on well-educated, reflective, bright people who are anxious to learn, but the reality is that they rely on dogmatic discipline, order, mindless enthusiasm, conformity and a willingness to be seduced by the most ludicrous ideas.”

Jubilee missed the last part of this. The process put into place by the technocrats could have been disorganised by the very leadership that deployed the seemingly “smart and mindless technocrats”. Rumours abound about how top party leadership canvassed for certain candidates leading to discontent amongst the aspirants. Or that the tendering was dubious. Yet the problems with the Jubilee Party did not start with the primaries. That party was set to fail from inception. Collapse more than 10 parties into one giant party was a mistake. Long even before the primaries, many leaders within the Jubilee fraternity developed cold feet and formed what we like to call “affiliate parties”.

Party politics is better left to the experts. Experts in politics do not need a university degree. The likes of Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko and Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu moved crowds and organised their affairs more prudently than most university professors despite their educational credentials. During President Moi’s, era most of the astute politicians were people like Kariuki Chotara, Ezekiel Bargentuny, Mulu Mutisya.

Obviously, the experts hired to organise and plan Jubilees’ formation and primaries were individuals drawn from the academic world and some probably from the business world. Such experts use rational approach to quantify the outcomes, but politics is not about quantifying output rather, it is more getting a working result.

After all, political party primaries are not the general election. Reducing and minimising disagreements should have been a Key Performance Indicator of the suited men at Ngara. They failed.

Mr Guleid is the Deputy Governor, Isiolo County   

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