Role of Kenya’s Opposition political parties still greatly misunderstood

NAIROBI: There is a general opinion expressed sporadically that Kenya does not have an effective Opposition. Some people go further to suggest that a “responsible” Opposition should tell the Government how to correct its mistakes and hence how to run the country. All these opinions are wrong. They miss the point regarding the role of the Opposition in a competitive multiple party democracy.

In such a democracy the Opposition is the government “in waiting” not the actual government. It prepares itself and waits to take over from the existing government either when the latter falls before elections or when it is defeated at elections. In the meantime it is the cardinal duty of the Opposition to expose all the weaknesses, misdeeds, failures, acts of incompetence and disservice to the people by the incumbent government.

The Opposition does this by giving reasons and showing how better things could be done were the Opposition to come to power. One of the most opportune moments for doing this is when the Government puts its budget before the nation. Or when it proposes certain specific policies like levying taxes or giving directives regarding basic freedoms. Thus when the Cabinet Secretary for Internal Security recently gave directions for journalists to be arrested for possessing some information, the Opposition came to the defence and rescue of the media. It is not the role of the Opposition to make secret phone calls to government officials pleading with them to correct their misdeeds. The Opposition is there to speak loudly and clearly for the people to hear what it stands for, its preferences and why it opposes the government. In the final analysis the Opposition is there to oppose loyally: loyal to the State and the people of Kenya and NOT to the ruling regime.

It goes without saying that on several issues the Opposition cannot see eye to eye with the Jubilee regime. The CORD leadership has made it very clear, in various public pronouncements, why we disagree and what our preferences are. Jubilee has, in return, refused to change course even when they are definitely heading in the wrong direction. For example, regarding the ICC, many Kenyans, including some of us in the Opposition, have made it abundantly clear that Jubilee should not use the ICC case to polarise the nation. This may have short term political dividends for Jubilee but in the long run it will undermine our nation building project.

As far as the Jubilee leaders are concerned, the narrative is simple: get the political base glued to the ICC case and the people will be there to vote as a block in 2017 for UhuRuto ticket once again. Forget about the rest of Kenya: once the Kalenjins and Kikuyus are together, the tyranny of numbers will work again. A few more will be added from here and there, lured by money and positions. So Uhuru does not need to address national issues like corruption and the economy: those don’t bring in votes. After all teachers were given benign neglect just a few days ago; and the heavens never came down. The solution to the teachers issue lies in a divide and rule strategy. Again this is pure short termism; the problem will simply persist. It is like rigging elections; the problem of how to democratically determine the people’s preference is simply postponed.

But Kenyans now know the truth. The spoilt votes that were running into millions before the computer server was deliberately crashed by the IEBC in March 2013 was a clear evidence of votes being “fixed” in favour of Uhuru. We were there. Counting agents from political parties were sent away from collating the votes to allow the fixing to be done. And it was done. There was never any tyranny of numbers. There was only a tyranny of stealing. American scholars who studied the exit polls have since then published their findings. The evidence is there. So the whipping up of ethnic sentiments to glue together the Jubilee alliance that will allow a greedy plutocracy of elites to misrule Kenya after 2017 must be exposed for what it is: perpetuating a dysfunctional state. We are already seeing it. Which President would preside over a government that lives beyond its means on a daily basis? When our debt servicing is taking up 50 per cent of our foreign earnings then something is fundamentally wrong with the way the Government is being run. And that has nothing to do with the judges at the ICC; the real problem is on Harambee Avenue and in State House.

Borrowing money from abroad to finance development is not rocket science: most governments in developing countries do that. But when you borrow and then inflate the loan with some figures that end up in the pockets of the rich and powerful in government, then the loans become an unnecessary burden to the taxpayer. A good part of our foreign debt that Jubilee is forcing down our throats are constituted by kickbacks and corrupt deals. The “tenderpreneurs” have invaded government: they rule, they churn out propaganda, they finance prayers and demonstrations, they keep us busy talking nonsense and listening to nonsense. This is what these prayers are all about: to keep us busy listening to nonsense while our economy is being ruined. Fellow Kenyans, whatever ethnic community you come from, please wake up. Our nation is being mortgaged to foreign debts by greedy deal fixers and tenderpreneurs.

I wonder whether President Kenyatta ever thinks of those who suffered most during the Post-Election Violence (PEV). For example the families who lost loved ones. If there is no ICC to address their issues where will those issues be addressed? Jubilee has been in government for close to three years now. All I hear is talk about cases in The Hague involving three people. What about hundreds of others who killed, maimed, raped, burnt others alive, shot families watching TV in the evening in Kibera, etc? Those security agents who caused mayhem in Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nairobi and Naivasha: are they to be let go just like that? These are the things that pain Kenyans: there can be no closure without justice. And justice may be done through a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. It would have been very good had the President addressed this issue rather than lecture the nation on the need to be patriotic at every opportunity he gets. Patriotism has never been a scarce commodity among Kenyans. If it were then we could not have put up with such misgovernment for so long.

The President has always insisted he is committed to uniting Kenyans. Yet speeches from the Jubilee leadership hardly inspire unity. Kenyans seem to have been divided by Jubilee into two: the loyal and the disloyal; the patriotic and the unpatriotic. Prayers are held, not to unite Kenyans, but to segregate them. There is an either/or choice to be made concerning the ICC. Either one is for Jubilee or one is non-Kenyan or less Kenyan. The point that the ICC judges have been making is very simple. This case is before them not by their own choice but by the choice of Kenyans themselves. This fact is unpalatable to the Jubilee brigade. The case is not being tried on the streets of Nairobi, let alone the football fields across the nation. If you have a point to make, especially from a government that professes it is governed by the rule of law, then present it at The Hague and not among the innocent Kenyan peasantry.