Political coalitions have cyclical patterns of breaking-up that start with interest groups coming together to oppose common foes and they then end with the falling out of the coalescing parties.
This happens irrespective of whether the coalitions achieve their objectives. If they win, the partners quarrel over the spoils, hidden ideologies, and claims of being short-changed. The challenge for each coalition is for the dominant party to refrain from hoarding everything while keeping the others - those who feel cheated - within the fold.
If they lose, they blame each other and then seek new dispensations. Following the August general election, for instance, Kenya Kwanza and Azimio rival exhibit signs of breaking up. Those signs are more pronounced in Azimio than in Kenya Kwanza.
The pattern was evident at the time of independence when the winning Kanu started falling apart and was eventually transformed into Kadu. Personal power greed, camouflaged as ideological disputes, led to internal frictions and attempts at constitutional changes.
After swallowing APP and Kadu, Kanu suffered ideological constipation as prima donnas vomited subdued personal and ideological splits.
Cold war inspired rivalry between Jaramogi Oginga Odinga socialistic expectations and Tom Mboya’s capitalistic inclinations took centre-stage and led to the Kanu-KPU break-up in 1966. As former allies within Kanu turned on each other, skilful Kadu operators systematically took over Kanu.
Thereafter, President Daniel arap Moi made Kanu a constitutional monolith that created its own internal contradiction which helped to give rise to multi-partyism.
NARC, the coalition that ended the Kanu rule in 2002, gave birth to several other short-lived coalitions in close electoral fights. NARC, comprising disgruntled Kanu players that united to defeat Uhuru as Moi’s project, hardly lasted one month.
The Kibaki and Raila factions quarreled over equality of power to appoint and then broke up at Bomas of Kenya. Narc died and was replaced by ODM and PNU contesting the 2007 election only for the two to disintegrate into TNA, URP, CORD, Jubilee, Nasa, Azimio, and Kenya Kwanza. The last two coalitions competed for the 2022 presidential election, presented as a contest between suffering hustlers in Kenya Kwanza and the privileged dynasties in Azimio.
Whether in victory or defeat, hustlers and dynasties are re-strategising politically even as they fall apart. In hustler-land, excessive chest-thumping compounds clear public disappointments in three ways. First, hustler elite have failed to fulfil the expected lowering of the cost of living and are instead looking for excuses.
Second, hustler ministers, some appointed due to cronyism, act against expectations of sobriety when addressing such sensitive matters as education, evicting people or salaries. Third, security in urban homes, in the streets, or in rural settings remains elusive.
In defeated Azimio-land, leaders are not together as they brood in denial. They accuse each other of underhand deals and engage in naked nepotism. Within the ODM grouping in Parliament, there are grumblings about committee appointments.
Jubilee members complain of being left out and threaten to leave. Small Azimio affiliated parties have disappeared into the hustler-world and compete to pledge loyalty to Kenya Kwanza.
Coalition chiefs show unity in exercising cronyism and nepotism by ensuring their relatives and cronies secure good EALA jobs and then turn on each other. They engage in new political warfare targeting the 2027 date.
With Uhuru no longer a political force and having become Ruto’s diplomatic emissary in Africa’s conflict zones, Raila and Kalonzo have subtley mounted political warfare against each other.