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The Opposition a great letdown to Kenya

By The Standard | October 29th 2015

They say, a country deserves the leaders it gets. By any measure, Kenya does not deserve the Opposition it got after the 2013 General Election.

As an alternative government, the CORD coalition has been an under-performer reduced to chasing shadows and fighting losing battles in Parliament.

Indeed, it has failed that crucial test of an alternative political outfit for the country. Because even as the country is buffeted by a wave of economic shocks, the Opposition has failed to rise to the occasion and offer an alternative economic blueprint of how to get the economy working again. There is no monopoly to what can be done to steady the wobbling economy. Perhaps this was the right time to dust up the Okoa Kenya initiative that sought to among other things, streamline public financing and offer Kenyans real choice.

But a litany of errors and graves omissions have exposed the Kenyan Opposition for what it is: a bunch of Opportunists with little else to offer. Take for example, they had a chance to impeach Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru over alleged corruption at the National Youth Service, but instead, they left it to their party leader Raila Odinga to engage with the matter in public rallies and in news conferences.

Alfred Keter, a Jubilee MP moved the motion that flopped. Secondly, they had grounds to push for the impeachment of President Uhuru Kenyatta when the Head of State ignored a resolution of the House not to pay Sh1.4 billion to clear an Anglo Leasing debt. They did not. The money was paid. Nothing happened. The only only Bills that have got the Opposition working it seems, is the Retirement Benefits for its patrons; former Prime and former Vicement President and the extension of life of the current Parliament.

In truth, the Kenyan Opposition is mute, in a permanent state of paralysis often issuing sterile ultimatums that lack conviction, focus and strategy. Ultimatums that are only good for TV soundbites. In fact, none of them raised a finger when the 2015-16 budget was before the House, either to point out that the fiscal policy was wrong or that the growth targets estimates could not be met or even sought to find out how the Eurobond billions were used.

It is disappointing that despite sitting in crucial Parliamentary committees it was not the Opposition, but the media, that was first to raise the flag on the fledgling state of the economy. Those in the Public Accounts Committee should have picked out what is now an obvious case of profligate spending by the Government. They did not.

Like the rest of their parliamentary peers, they were content with lining their pockets with sitting allowances.The lack of principled Opposition is dismaying. So what do they stand for?

In other democracies, an economic downturn like the one experienced in the country is enough reason to topple a government. The Opposition ought to have made mincemeat of the Government. Not here. Even with their small numbers, the  Opposition has not sought to engage the ruling coalition. In fact, what is witnessed often times even when dialogue could work is a worthless chest-thumping. Despite their monumental failings and sagging support, it is easy to assume that the Opposition has given up hope with two years to go to the next elections. The Opposition is disgruntled and in disarray with no clear challenger to President Uhuru Kenyatta. One would have expected that by now, CORD’s well-oiled machine would be waiting in the wings for a battle royale. Perhaps leaving things in limbo is for strategic purposes, but with a clear candidate in Mr Kenyatta, the Opposition could be counting too much on luck.

Failing to plan is planning for failure goes the cliché. But it is not cliché that the current Opposition is a pale shadow of those that went before. They ought to stand up and be counted.

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