Political parties must hold elections

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BY JOSEPH KAMOTHO

Section 77 (2) of the  constitution categorically states that any appointed  State Officer shall not hold  office  in any political party but  that clause has been violated  with impunity by no lesser persons  than Kenyan legislators.

It surprises many  that  deafening silence  reigns, delegates\’  congresses  have not been convened  to  address  and resolve  party leadership  issues that must exclude amongst others, parliamentarians and ministers.  Parliamentary party leaders are defiant save for the signatories to the Accord on Peace and Reconciliation that created the Grand Coalition government in 2008.  Their tenure as party leaders comes to an end with the dissolution and formation of a new government sometime in 2012.

It is no secret that leaders are undermining constitutional virtues and other known sound governance values.  If these leaders subscribe to democratic ideals and were up to some good, they could have vacated party posts and fresh elections held to fill positions they currently hold. 

Of late, some former Kenya African National Union (KANU) national officials have regrouped and formed an alliance of Kikuyu, Kamba and Kalenjin tribes known by its acronym as KKK to prepare ground for the general elections next year in which President Mwai Kibaki is not a participant.  The constitution bars Kibaki and previous holders of the office from contesting elections after two terms.

The Kikabila group believes that under one commander, it has the numbers and resources that can exclusively deliver Kibaki\’s successor that has to be found at whatever cost. Each party fielding candidate ought to provide a presidential candidate or dissolve.

The KKK dream negates democratic principles and contravenes section 91 of the constitution that states that every political party shall have a national character. None of the existing political outfits including KKK matches or meets the threshold. From the look of things, KKK does not need the votes of other communities and have relegated others to voting machines in future contests.

Groupings of ideological like minds are not an offence per se but the intentions of KKK pollute the political atmosphere and smacks of mischief.  Counties like defunct provinces have become electoral units in the new political dispensation and it would have made some sense if the leaders called for alliances of such units. 

Some parliamentarians have since abandoned sponsoring parties for new ethnic alliances in anticipation of grabbing power come elections. However, the law does not recognise pre-poll coalitions that have characterised Kenyan politics since the country became a multiparty State 19 years ago. Serious coalitions in modern democracies are formed after elections not before. 

The proponents of tribal groupings live in the dark past and have to be told that in no uncertain terms that they are bound to fail in their quest to ethnicise the country that is yet to heal from the wounds of ethnic violence.

But many Kenyans are left wondering on which platform chauvinistic tendencies would be propagated when the constitution is clear on the separation of Party and State, Executive and the Legislature?

Kenyans have not forgotten that parties of convenience  failed  to deliver services and instead  promoted hatred that culminated in electoral violence in which more than a thousand lives lost, nearly half a million people uprooted from their homes and property of unknown value destroyed.

The Party of National Unity (PNU) is one case of political convenience in one of those fragile arrangements for nothing but election purposes.  Its predecessor, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) disintegrated soon after it ousted KANU in a euphoria never seen in the country in years.

It is worth noting  that this  is not the first time  that the electorate have been duped  to  support  tribal  chiefs  guised as redeemers  of the  downtrodden.  A group of seven tribes from Eastern, Central and Rift  Valley regions, precursor of all the known ethnic alliances. Gikuyu, Embu, Meru Kalenjin, Maasai, Turkana and Samburu communities known by its acronym as GEMA/ KAMATUSA power brokerage collapsed.

Tribal clashes ensued in the Rift Valley and other parts of Kenya in what many saw as a reprisal or disapproval of the alliance whose motive was to lock out some Kenyan communities from leadership positions, notably the presidency.
 
Given the foregoing scenario, Kenyans of good intention cannot buy the idea of ethnic groupings in modern Kenya. The leaders of such amorphous outfits failed to deliver on their promises of heaven and earth and it is time they gave supporters a break in this trying moment. When will the country heal and communities reconcile with such leaders at the helm?

The writer is a former cabinet minister and secretary general of two major political parties. Email:  [email protected] 
 

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