Kalonzo Musyoka and Martha Karua should be menacing, irritating, disturbing, hissing, smoking out jokers in government, crisis-crossing the country holding informal and formal meetings with Kenyans, setting public agenda. In brief, they should be keeping the government, not just in check but also trapping it into the political wrestling ring. The duo should push the government to, as they would say in some sports, “make forced errors”.
Kalonzo and Karua need to stick with each other. Their political career is only rising – at least looking at how the 2027 election realignments are shaping barely four months after the contested presidential election outcome. What a strange obsession with campaigns in this country!
As a team in the Opposition that is shrinking by the day, something else is happening on the ground. There are constituencies of voters who have been deserted by the people they elected on Azimio ticket who have now joined the high table in government. In addition to the loyal Azimio supporters, Kalonzo and Karua should seize the moment and captain the Opposition behind as well as side by side with Baba.
Of course Baba, Raila Odinga, is in town. He has upped his game in ways not seen in the recent past. The government has forgotten it is supposed to focus on delivery of services to Kenyans instead doing two irrelevant things: Campaigning towards 2027 and finding such joy and energy in whipping anything Baba. Perhaps there is something more serious it knows that we don’t.
However, Kalonzo and Karua should look beyond Baba. They need him in so far as God grants him health of body and mind. Kalonzo and Karua should build on his strengths as they have done in the recent past. The pair needs to form a formidable team around Baba that will give him the support he needs to keep democratising this country but also, as he ages, gives them the solid platform around which to be the Government-in-Waiting.
It is really unfortunate that we do not see the value of the Opposition in this country. We have consistently demonised anyone in the Opposition to a point those in the Opposition feel less needed in society, less influential, less visible, less attractive to the public. Only a few strong-willed elected leaders like Martin Shikuku saw being in Opposition as a service to the country that they could not abandon even when opportunities to be bribed were there.
When people elected in one party just jump over to the government to avoid being in the Opposition, we lose the foundation to make the government accountable. I understand the question of numbers for the ruling party if it has to get its agenda passed in Parliament. But, I also want to be sure the tenets of democracy such as service delivery, accountability and citizens’ freedoms are not lost in the process of saving a government without majority numbers.
Democracy without opposition is nothing but one-party rule – whatever name we give it. Kalonzo and Karua should bring back the glory of being in the Opposition. I am not talking about the Opposition that is planning for 2027. That is a useless Opposition. I am talking about an Opposition that will pin the government to the wall to turn tables and get into power at the earliest opportunity possible. This is what we see in many mature democracies such as the UK, Italy and Australia.
A good Opposition that keeps the government of the day in check knows that it is the Government-in-Waiting and therefore has the firepower to propel itself to power at the slightest slip up of the government. It is not for nothing that the Constitution contemplates impeaching a sitting president in spite of the high threshold set to achieve this.
Kalonzo and Karua should keep working with Baba to generate enough heat on the government either to make it deliver or fatally falter.
Stay informed. Subscribe to our newsletter
Dr Mokua is executive director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communication.