Principled opposition leaders don't defect to the ruling party

A section of ODM MPs who visited President William Ruto at State House Nairobi. [PCS]

Taking flight from Azimio la Umoja coalition to Kenya Kwanza is a no brainer. The defectors, as it should be called for what it is by law, should just say they are hungry and looking for ways to butter their bread.

Solid, principled leaders with vision and mission in their lives do not just wake up, jump ship to a ruling political party and start bleating how they have “seen the light”, “feel betrayed”, “do not believe in the direction our party is taking” blah blah blah blah! Actually, that makes no logical sense. It is a simple survival personal instinct that should not be sugarcoated with such cry baby words.

Two examples are sufficient to drive my point home. Remember a political party by the name FORD? When its members could not agree on how to run a common political front against the Professor of Politics, Daniel arap Moi, they split to become Ford-Asili which was led by Kennedy Matiba and Ford-Kenya, best remembered with names such as Kijana Wamalwa, both of good memory. They did not jump to the “Jogoo” party (Kanu) to protest against their leader.

The late President Mwai Kibaki formed a political party by name Democratic Party. When he found the going tough in Kanu he did not surrender in order to “stay in government so we can get something for our people”. Nope, he hung on with his party. Very easily, he could have abandoned it and joined the famous chorus of the time, “Kanu ni baba na mama”.

Just in case someone is losing history, the late George Anyona (Kitutu Masaba Constituency) and Martin Shikuku (Butere Constituency), among others, were outstanding Members of Parliament who would be elected amidst a very strong Kanu wave across the country for the simple fact that they stood for values not pride, not riches, not for their own sake but for a bigger vision they had for their country – Kenya.

I have no problem whatsoever for the government to seek numbers in and out of Parliament to implement its agenda. But, I have two problems in the way things are going. First, the government has the numbers it needs to run its agenda in Parliament.

What is this generosity to receive defectors adding value to it? Second, I have a big dilemma seeing photo-shoot press events in which everyone defecting (sic) to Kenya Kwanza says the only option was to join government. I am particularly, alarmed at the rate at which everyone is pledging loyalty to the new found home.

So what happens in the next three years? Shall we have nearly everyone defecting to the ruling party? Are we headed for a one party-state? Consequently, and following this to its logical conclusion, is this the beginning of the end of devolution?

My thesis is that while we expect the government to run down the opposition in order to give itself as much power as possible, we expect that in a young democracy, a majority of elected leaders should be principled to run a full term as opposition if that is where election outcome places them.

Should party differences appear, as seems to be the case in Azimio, we expect principled parties to split into different or new parties but remain faithful to their role as opposition till such a time they should seek new mandate from the electorate.

For once, I am beginning to contemplate that it is not worthy calling ourselves a democracy. Why not adopt the Chinese Communism and forget about chasing a utopia state in which we cannot sustain the values embedded in a democracy? To put it the other way, are we in love with what we hate?

We are doing this country a great disservice by cheering on a trend that will put us at par with Uganda and Rwanda where elections are won by the ruling party by a landslide. That works for them but I am not for us.

Dr Mokua is executive director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communication