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Jostling for supremacy in coalitions is not driven by any ideology

Azimio la Umoja bigwigs Wycliffe Oparanya and Kalonzo Musyoka in Luanda, Vihiga County on November 12, 2023. [ Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Political parties and coalitions are experiencing structural upheavals rooted in the paradox of hope and hopelessness but not in any ideology.

A sense of despair prevails because leaders have proved to be indecent, insensitive and incompetent. They imply that the main qualification for high office is callousness and ignorance.

Leadership failure shows a power vacuum that needs filling. The question that arises is one of which aspirants are fit to fill the purported power vacuums.    

The two political coalitions that competed in August 2022, Azimio and Kenya Kwanza, are in tatters. Within Azimio some leaders struggle to be noticed as principals.

The Jubilee Party split between a Sabina Chege and Kanini Kega faction that defected to William Ruto and the Jeremiah Kioni faction that Uhuru Kenyatta supports. Kioni and Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua, feeling cheated within Azmio, distanced themselves from ODM and Wiper-Kenya and went their separate ways to create a Kamwene (one’s little own) movement to champion neglected mountain interests.

When it appeared Raila might vacate the leadership of the opposition, different splits arose at two levels; Azimio and ODM. At the Azimio level, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Karua battled to inherit Raila’s leadership position in opposition.

Raila is the main attraction and ultimate political magnet in ODM. Like his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Raila looms large among the Nyanza people, meaning the Luo everywhere. He stifles upcoming ‘leaders’ and some would love to ‘promote’ him to AU in Addis Ababa which would allow them to prove their leadership mettle without boasting; and “Do I Say”.

As internal rumbles shake ODM, he appears torn among several claimants to his leadership, and some feel politically jilted. Aspirants include Opiyo Wandayi, Babu Owino, Ali Hasan Joho, John Mbadi, and Wycliffe Oparanya. There were, however, warnings to leadership aspirants who dreamt of a Raila political absence.

Otiende Amollo observed, “If a man leaves this village for a job in Nairobi, even his eldest son has no right to claim ownership of the homestead.” On her part, Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga accused aspirants of being impatient and asserted, “Even a married woman cannot seek a new marriage because her husband has gone to look for a job somewhere. It’s too early to discuss succession in ODM.”

The Azimio upheavals, however, pale when compared to those in the ruling Kenya Kwanza where President Ruto appointed people he admitted were incompetent. Although some appointees were simply ignorant, they together plunged the country into deep ridicule and made Kenya’s image outside the country is poor.

Seemingly trying to please the US and Morocco, Ruto reversed the perceived AU position on the Sahrawi, agreed to send policemen to Haiti where ‘Barbecue’ is waiting, and was too quick to make questionable comments on Sudan and the Sahel. Despite Biden's praises, and as he trots around the continent merchandising Raila, he faces an uphill task because he does not inspire.

With the IMF seemingly ruling Kenya, instead of elected officials, there is disillusionment. There was, for instance, the fake fertiliser scandal and the Hustler Grandees extravagance as hospitals and schools lacked funds.

Subsequently, underdevelopment, shrinking middle class, and rising hopelessness give rise to what Barrack Muluka termed the ‘Rogue and Gangster Regime’. Government boasting of its ability to force what it wants watu wapende wasipende irrespective of the likely harm gives the impression that it believes in lawlessness.

This arrogance enables an increasingly influential Okiya Omtatah repeatedly to embarrass Ruto through court cases. Efforts to force constituent parties into UDA also hit hard rock as ANC, Ford-Kenya, and Chap Chap failed to budge.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua wants to be Mountain ‘king’, but he lacks public savviness and faces challenges from Gathoni wa Muchomba, Karua, Kithure Kindiki, Kioni, and Peter Munya.

Arrogance undermines the Ruto-Gachagua credibility and encourages feelings that the country lacks proper leadership. And the parties are dysfunctional.

By AFP 8 hrs ago
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