A political death has occurred in the midst of this coronavirus crisis, and the cause is not related to the pandemic. The Jubilee Party, or JP as it was known among its friends, is dead. Some people are in grief, some are in denial, and many are in celebration. But no one is truly surprised.
This is the fate of Kenyan political coalitions; their lifespans are shorter than any given political cycle. Not a single alliance has lived to see the next election. So why would JP be the exception?
Since there is no unified understanding and agreement that JP is finished, coalition politics is in a purgatory-like state of abeyance.
Usually, a normal formal alliance has an official start date such as a wedding day. It also has an end date, such as a day in a divorce court.
But in Kenya coalition arrangements are purposely amorphous. They almost always have start dates. The Jubilee Party’s was a lavish launch ceremony on September 18, 2016, at the Kasarani Stadium. But the coalition party did not and will never have a specific end date.
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Nobody went to the Registrar of Political Parties to make official the separation. In fact, some coalition members are still members of previous dead iterations like NASA, and CORD. These and many other political associations started but never officially ended. But it is a forgone conclusion that they are dead, even though the date of death is unknown.
Although the fact is that JP is dead, those in denial will accept it when they hear it from the horses’ mouths. The horses being the President and the Deputy President.
But until then, we are operating in a temporary state of political insanity. Deranged thoughts, behaviour and pronouncement are unfolding all around us. And they are coming from people in grief, in denial or in over excited celebration over JP’s end.
The first display of temporary madness is the idea that William Ruto can be removed from office using the Political parties Act.
If the game plan for reconfiguring Jubilee’s National Management Council is to leave Ruto party-less, then that is a weak, untenable plan designed by a temporarily deranged person.
Yes, the Political Parties Act (2011) states that a person who loses party membership will also lose any political position to which that person has been either elected or nominated. However, that person cannot be William Ruto. His position as Deputy President is protected by the Constitution, and that is watertight.
Article 150 tells us ‘when’ or ‘why’ he can be removed from office. And none of the reasons outlined there have anything to do with the Deputy President’s ‘party-lessness’. Unfortunately for the schemers, the Constitution overrides all lesser laws, including the Political Parties Act. When the schemers snap out of this season of impaired reasoning, my advice is that they gun for the good old-fashioned impeachment route, as articulated in the good old-fashioned Constitution.
That is if they are certain of the grounds, and are assured of the success of the process. Otherwise, they should get used to William Ruto being Deputy President until 2022.
The second deranged thought is that with the death of the Jubilee Party and the unexpected disruption of the Covid-19 epidemic, the BBI plans have also perished. On the contrary, BBI is not only alive and kicking; it has a new lease of life.
Yes, the BBI rallies can no longer be held, yet the momentum and the bloodline for the Initiative was to congregate and drum up nationwide support. However, curfews, quarantine, lockdowns and the general inability to congregate their supporters gives the BBI camp something valuable: Time.
It gives BBI time to regroup, to co-opt their enemies, cause rifts in the opposing camp, and to find legislation that benefits them or that that is malleable enough to manipulate in their favour. Even more valuable, the pandemic provides a smokescreen to do these things with little to no scrutiny.
And anyway, the limitations that the corona pandemic presents to the BBI, also apply to Ruto’s camp. They can’t hold rallies, and can’t do public politicking either. The only thing the DP is missing is the state infrastructure to apply in this purgatory season of undercover scheming.
The writer is a PhD candidate in political economy at SMC University. [email protected]