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Opinion: NASA stands for confusion

COMMENTARY
By Michael Cherambos | April 26th 2017
National Super Alliance PHOTO:COURTESY

National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders are planning a huge event at Uhuru Park to finally reveal their long-awaited presidential candidate.

The Opposition alliance is billing it a moment in history, “the day you will be told the team that will liberate Kenyans”.

While the announcement will end months of speculation and signal a new phase of the election campaign, fundamentally it will change nothing.

NASA might have a flag bearer by the weekend, but it will continue to be plagued by uncertainty and confusion.

Division and factionalism is at the core of NASA’s DNA. Its constituent parties have little, if anything of substance, which binds them.

Leaders of the alliance’s four original factions have rarely been seen at each other’s side at rallies or public events during the past several months.

Each has run a separate campaign, paying lip service to NASA when necessary.

Now Governor Isaac Ruto has thrown his hat into the NASA ring. He is another high-profile figure whose expectations must be satisfied.

And this is the central issue from which NASA cannot escape. Each of its five principal leaders has signed up to an alliance of convenience – an arrangement which each one believes will further his own individual political ambition.

CONFLICTING INTERESTS

Each one hopes that NASA will be the brand to propel them on the path towards increased influence and the kind of power which they believe they are entitled to.

Inevitably, at least some of them are being led down the road to disappointment.

Whoever the Presidential candidate turns out to be, it will leave badly bruised and resentful egos.

Can anyone genuinely see Raila or Kalonzo gracefully accepting another candidate, let alone wholeheartedly supporting them through the rest of the campaign?

And it is precisely for this reason that it has been suggested NASA is preparing to announce an entire overhaul to the structure of Government’s higher echelons.

If reports are to be believed, under NASA’s new scheme, the Presidency will become largely ceremonial, assisted in his duties by a Deputy President.

Real power will rest with a Premier Cabinet Secretary overseeing government, while two Deputy Cabinet Secretaries coordinate ten ministries each.

This plan has nothing to do with good governance and everything to do with satisfying personal ego.

Who needs a constitution when you can just make it up as you go along?

Five positions for five leaders. Each one inevitably jostling for influence, insisting that his position has greater authority than the others.

Even if the current mode of government remains in place, NASA’s various factions will face an uphill struggle to agree on anything of importance.

There is simply no unified policy.

Kalonzo says that the KDF will immediately pull troops out of Somalia if NASA is elected.

Is this a position shared by other NASA principals?

If so, they are keeping it very quiet. The silence speaks for itself.

With its leaders seemingly shooting from the hip on policy, one wonders what kind of meaningful manifesto this disparate group can possibly pull together.

UNIFYING FACTOR

The only thing that appears to unify them is opposition to Uhuru. In other words, a common thirst for power which can never be truly satisfied.

All of which makes a terrible recipe for government.

If NASA cannot offer anything more than a façade of unity barely 100 days from polling day, what on earth would it look like in power?

In all likelihood, it would bring nothing more than fractious, ad-hoc decision-making.

It would herald a government dominated by rivalling personal ambition, rather than the best interests of the country.

In short, it would result in confused, inefficient and unpredictable government.

No doubt the NASA party machinery will put on an impressive show on Thursday.

Expect Uhuru Park to be filled with enthusiastic supporters, while the stage is likely to be dominated by glitz and colour.

But no amount of cosmetics can hide the reality.

Even after Thursday, NASA will continue to represent chaos, confusion and a vacuum devoid of policy and planning.

Hardly the hands into which Kenya’s future should be placed.

 

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