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Here are some hard truths for the Azimio leadership

Ken Opalo
 Azimio la Umoja leaders led by Raila Odinga (centre) at a rally in Kamukunji Grounds, December 7, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The leadership of Azimio announced that they will hold a parallel even to mark Jamhuri Day and protest the capture of important institutions by State House. From the inexplicable dropping of cases against well-connected individuals to forgiveness of alleged tax cheats, Kenyans have a lot of questions in need of answers.

Azimio is certainly within its rights to highlight the Government’s failings. However, it is also important for the outfit to realise that our current governance architecture provides them with opportunities to be more than just an oppositionist cabal shouting from the fences. They have supermajorities in several counties in which they could showcase their governance agenda.

They could take seriously the question of policymaking and provide concrete and better alternatives to the UDA administration’s offerings. And above all, they could leverage their numbers in parliament to directly impact voters’ lives and strategically influence public discourse on topical issues.

To be blunt, these days Azimio invariably sounds like a bunch of out-of-touch elites who are yet to come to terms with the fact that they blew a very winnable election. Indeed, it is crystal clear that their leading lights are yet to internalise the reasons behind their loss – the total contempt for voters (their campaigns betrayed a belief that merely herding people into ethnic pens was enough) and disdain for new strategic thinking to match the times and institutions (Kenyan politics has changed quite a bit since the “mass action” days of the 1990s).

Instead of forever hearkening to the “good governance” shibboleth, it is imperative that Azimio devices new strategies of making themselves seem sincerely concerned about Kenyans’ day-to-day material challenges. What is their position on the Competency Based Curriculum? What do they think about GMOs and why? How would they have tackled the cost-of-living crisis? How are they helping youths in Azimio counties leverage the Hustler Fund?

It is not too much to ask for a serious and organisationally competent opposition. As this column has argued over the years, the first test and most important test that Kenyans should always apply when judging politicians is what they are doing with the power that they currently have.

Forget the planned rallies and promises of change, what is Azimio doing with the powers it has in the counties and bunge?

The writer is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University

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