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OPINION: Kenya is on the verge of becoming a one-party state
By Charles Bazenga | Updated Dec 07, 2017 at 07:57 EAT
Kenya is slowly becoming a one-party state
  • Kenya struggled to become a multi-party state where political parties could rival the ruling party and correct errors made in national issues.
  • Many years later, the country is slowly creeping back to the era where correcting the government is a crime
  • The current ruling party is so strong that the opposing party has little involvement in matters affecting the nation

Kenya became a one-party state by law in the year 1982. Serious fight for multi-party democracy started in the year 1990. It's not an easy struggle.

Some of the people who steered this struggle were former Kiharu MP, Kenneth Matiba, Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Reverend Timothy Njoya, Charles Rubia, Jaramogi Oginga among others. 

The multi-party system allowed the formation of political parties that could rival the ruling party in elections and address national issues. 

Lately, there are some events that point that we could be headed to where we came from as a country. 


During the previous campaign period, the country witnessed various defections by political leaders. One of the main causes is unfairness and lack of transparency in party primaries. For the fear of losing unfairly, political aspirants jumped ship to parties where they feel the process would be free and fair.

Upon losing others made a decision to go it alone as independent candidates. It's important for political parties to ensure freeness and fairness in the primaries in order to make aspirants 'comfortable' with their win or loss.

It's sufficient and factual to say that no single party in Kenya can pride itself as having conducted free and fair primaries. The defections referred in this piece are those of strong and firebrand politicians leaving opposition to join the government.

There was an insignificant exodus from ruling party to opposition. This weakens the government watchdog big-time and renders it incapable of delivering victory in elections. It makes it very difficult for the opposition to pass bills, motions, and agendas in the legislatures.

 Irresistible 'brown envelopes'

It's alleged that political leaders who forsake opposition to join government usually do so after being enticed with cash reward popularly referred to as brown envelopes.

Due to the love of monies, the leaders are unable to resist these offers thus compromising their principles and the ideas they stand for.

When this bait catches strong politicians the opposition suffers a huge blow. Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior likes to refer to this envelope system as "tumbocracy". 

 Victimization and persecution of rebels and radicals

It's become increasingly fearful among politicians to go against the government's grain. It's very few political leaders in government and opposition who will call out government and its leaders whenever government errs.

They fear being persecuted and victimized. If you vehemently criticize, you are likely to get a bitter dose that will cripple you politically and economically. This fear factor helps the government get away with any wrong committed. 

Campaign funds

The opposition seems not to be financially stable. If they are, the leaders are mean. Time and again, the opposition has invited Kenyans to contribute financially to their campaign kitty.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with political fundraisers...the impression given in this case is that the opposition is struggling financially. It's very few political parties outside the ruling party that fund their candidates sufficiently.

After the nominations exercise, the candidates are left on their own. This means they can't fuel rigorous campaigns.On the other hand, there's plenty in government's side.

Candidates are well funded. This attracts many- the reason why nomination exercise for the ruling party is a do-or-die affair with very many aspirants fighting for one seat. 

Political narratives

Brilliant political leaders in government coin narratives that endear the ruling party to the citizenry and that take away the confidence that the citizenry has in the opposition. The narratives range from corruption, witchcraft, neo-colonialism, egocentric to revenge.

In conclusion, a strong opposition is healthy for any nation as it the government of the day is kept in check and delivers its mandate as it ought to. There'll be little progress when a nation has handicapped opposition.

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