In the space of Kenyan politics, the Opposition, specifically Azimio, must not merely be content with expressing dissatisfaction with the government.
It should elevate its role to serve as both a vigilant check and a potent force, putting the Kenya Kwanza government on notice that the government’s push for the public to focus on the 2027 timeline for the next general election is a smart way of running away from the need for everyday accountability and transparency.
A robust Opposition is poised to seize any opportunity to question a government that is faltering.
It is an intrinsic principle of democracy that the party in power acknowledges the Opposition as a government in waiting, implying that any governance missteps or shortcomings by the ruling government become potential ammunition for the Opposition to demonstrate its capacity to take over power. In practice, this may be difficult in a presidential system like ours. However, it should be reason to demand that the government in power be pushed to deliver or resign.
The recent rhetoric from Azimio, while addressing concerns such as the high cost of living and advocating for fair treatment of citizens, falls short of the proactive and assertive role a strong Opposition should play. The Opposition's role extends beyond vocal critique; it should actively engage in steering the nation towards better governance. As an Opposition aggrieved by what it claims is a stolen victory, it cannot surrender itself to the 2027 general election narrative. It must remain in the present.
The call by Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka to prepare for the 2027 elections from as early as next year is a puzzling move, potentially diverting attention from demanding improved government service delivery. At a time when the government is struggling to assure the public of its good intentions, a formidable Opposition should unveil any government failings and press it against the wall. A responsive government can be compelled to deliver on its promises, failure to which a robust Opposition can consider the option of impeachment.
Three critical areas where the Opposition appears to be falling short are education, corruption, and the normalisation of the high cost of living. The education system, particularly the implementation of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), reveals significant flaws. Many schools lack the necessary infrastructure, including laboratories and teaching materials, to effectively implement CBC. With the phasing out of national exams as the main basis for defining the progression of learners from one level to another, both learners and teachers must have the material and human support to achieve the CBC goals.
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A proactive Opposition should take these concerns seriously, engaging with parents, teachers, and stakeholders in the education sector to demand a just and effective education system. If the government remains unresponsive, the Opposition could build a strong case for impeachment based on its failure to address fundamental issues in the education sector.
Further, corruption in Kenya has reached alarming levels, with numerous mega scandals reported in the media over the past year. However, these cases often get trivialised and overshadowed by diversionary events. Raila Odinga's release of the Sh17 billion oil scandal dossier, while generating temporary public attention, was quickly supplanted by discussions on the government's plan to privatise several agencies.
The Opposition must coalesce as a united front, ensuring that corruption remains a focal point in public discourse. Leaders like Martha Karua and Kalonzo should collaborate with determined persons like outspoken Senator Richard Onyonka to exert sustained pressure on the government, emphasising the urgency of addressing corruption.
Moreover, the issue of the high cost of living remains a pressing concern for Kenyans. Social media platforms, skits, and music reflect the frustration of many young people who feel the cost of living is too high for them to survive.
Normalising the high cost of living should not be accepted as the status quo. A vigilant Opposition could leverage this concern to demand transparency and accountability, seeking to inform the public about the factors driving the high cost of living and proposing viable solutions.
The Opposition has a chance to offer alternative leadership.
-Dr Mokua is Executive Director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communication