President Uhuru's decision left CORD flat-footed, again
By Maurice Awiti | December 8th 2014
The word ‘flat-footed’ originates from a disease called Pes planus or fallen arch, which flattens the arch of the foot and causes an imbalance of forces important to the biomechanics of motion and balance of weight on the human foot during motion. This term is also widely used in sports.
In football, when a player is caught flat-footed, s/he is unable to stretch out to reach for the freely moving ball or when dribbled by an opponent. In the flatfoot position, a player is not ready to tackle an opponent or receive a pass. It may be due to loss of concentration, poor posture or deliberate plot by the opponent to challenge one. At all times, a player is expected to be on toes and move about to avoid being caught in this position hard to recover from in time to make a save or dispossess an opponent of the ball. Enough of football.
In politics in democracies the world over, an election leaves two groups of people: losers and winners. The winners obviously rejoice while the losers whine about internal malfunctions or a plot by the winners to make them lose. Our Kenyan election cycle is not spared of this.
After the historic 2013 General elections, the first of its kind under the guidance of the iconic new constitution, The Jubilee coalition emerged the winners, though not without court battles. The CORD coalition accepted their fate in the opposition, though half-heartedly. They have incessantly complained publicly about how their victory was stolen. They have mentioned how two communities could not have the numbers to beat the other 40.
However, this has only served to create animosity between the ruling coalition and the opposition. It has even trickled down to important national matters of security and citizen service delivery. As they say, no one would sit to see food bolus taken out of one’s mouth before swallowing. The Jubilee coalition has proved to be having the hardest job of surmounting an opposition so quick to prey on its failures and wrong decisions to popularize itself to the electorate, and presenting itself as the best alternative government Kenyans never elected. Well, the wit of a man (no pun intended) is seen at times of crisis.
The Jubilee coalition has found itself in narrow defiles that require the strongest will to survive. When the Westgate terror attack knocked, it would be the first crisis to a budding government just learning the ropes. Even though there were outright failures in response and chain of command on parts of authorities, the government could find refuge in its then greenness. At normal times, sackings and prosecutions would have ensued, but Uhuru calmed down and asked Kenyans to be patient. Well, it was until recently that the memories were ignited amidst high emotions and grief as relatives to the deceased remembered their departed in the first anniversary. No arrests have been made so far and the Parliamentary report has not been either published or made public.
Such open failures have been the best opportunities for the watchful opposition to point to fissures in the government.
Then came the time for President Uhuru to make crucial ministerial appointments. As expected, ethnic and gender imbalance were a glaring misdeed, but the government hid under the garb of professionalism. This it maintained, despite flouting its earlier resolve to reflect the diversity of Kenya in public appointments. Then came the last two appointments which speculations had that some of his post-election coalition partners Mudavadi and Wamalwa could have been beneficiaries. This didn’t happen, but still he again flaunted his declaration to exclude any former politicians. The opposition attacked when Ngilu and Balala made it to the cabinet.
In the recent ambassadorial appointments done by the President, some opposition MP’s claimed that it was an ethnic zero-sum game, since it involved replacing someone with another of own ethnicity. Despite having the Parliament as a platform to raise these issues, they kept silent as the names were passed by parliament.
All through these, the opposition gained popularity with every mistake of the government. It was not until the presidency convened a meeting with his MPs that a strategy was reached to counter the surging opposition amidst claims that the ruling coalition was losing grassroot support.
At the peak of heightened political activity by the opposition, disaster struck the coastal town of Lamu vicinity. At the time, CORD had taken its campaign-to force the government to convene a structured dialogue with politicians and community leaders-to Lamu. The same night unknown attackers used Guns and pangas to kill tens of people in one night. This would be repeated in two more nights.
The opposition was satisfied that it was the act of al Shabaab militia. But not so with government intelligence who blamed ‘local political networks’ involvement. CS Lenku went ahead to blatantly blame the opposition mercenaries on the deaths. Then it was clear that a war had been waged between the CORD coalition and Government. The opposition was forced to stop its campaigns in good will to resolve the crisis. To date, no serious prosecutions have been done and the opposition leaders are roaming free. Was it true?
To an opposition that has in many instances relied on government mistakes to further its agenda, it can be very confusing to find out that the latter no longer makes any mistakes.
In the run-up to last year’s General elections, CORD did not do more than mentioning the Jubilee leaders’ cases at the ICC over the 2007 post-election violence as the only reason they were better placed to lead the country. Despite their jubilee-old political experience, they could not offer better promises as their rivals. When it came to the moment President Kenyatta was summoned to appear before the Hague-based court, they expected to leverage on any wrong decisions to popularize themselves one again.
Most CORD MP’s advised the President not to honor the summon arguing that he did not have to, after all. This was outright misadvise and dishonesty with ulterior motives. CORD knows well what would have befallen Uhuru should he have failed to honor the summon, vis-à-vis the shocker of honoring. The fact that CORD openly misguided the President on a case of international magnitude is a matter of morality, and this surpasses fair political gaming. In fact, it is huge disrespect to the institution of Presidency which CORD leadership has been longing for for decades. Perhaps the missing piece of advice for CORD is that one cannot occupy a seat one disrespects.
When their expectation failed to materialize, CORD resorted to childish legal hullabaloos about President’s special parliamentary address on Monday, claiming it was unnecessary.
CORD’s perennial failure
Even though CORD as a coalition is young, its leaders have been in the political scene for long. What they have failed in doing is to offer better alternatives and engage the public in a manner appreciable to the electorate. One cannot be good because the other is bad. When one mentions a referendum in which the government must participate to pass, then Kenyans are being taken for a ride. It is not the best contribution the Opposition can make to Kenyans. There are myriad policy issues that need be debated and passed. There are tax policy loopholes that need be filled to ensure that multination companies remit required taxes to the Treasury, thereby lessening the tax burden on Kenyans. If CORD cannot pursue these, then even the plebiscite move is a waste of time.
Finally, if CORD’s political game would be leveraging on Government failures to popularize itself, then it will always be caught flat foot. The unavoidable result would be disastrous to the coalition and its members. The government has realized their game, and will first plot its downfall by doing things right. Then CORD will diminish. Oops!
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