ODM is not a bus waiting for a driver; it exists in reality

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ANYANG’ NYONG’O

With the coming into being of the reformist constitution in Kenya in October 2010, there is a growing need to build a democratic political culture in our country. This will help us realize tremendous gains in socio-economic development, respect for human rights and governing by the rule of law.

Such a culture involves, among other things, respect for the principle of citizenship in the public sphere, consciousness of civic responsibilities among citizens, the nurturing of democratic institutions and claims to rights and entitlements derived from the constitution.

But this opportunity to nurture and build a democratic political culture is likely to be fudged, delayed or missed altogether if the key players in the political arena do not see the need for it, or even if they see the need they may not be particularly committed to the conscious nurturing of such a culture due to preoccupation with the politics of expediency and opportunism.

Where a democratic political culture is being nurtured, political behavior is usually guided by fairness, tolerance, civility, abhorrence of extremism of any kind, decent bargaining, a give-and-take approach to conflict resolution and a deep commitment to the harmonious reproduction of society.

We do, however, live at a time when the politics of both extremism and exclusion seem to be in ascendancy. We are witnessing situations where politicians seem to prefer to issue ultimatums as conditions for getting what they want out of political processes rather than relying more on bargaining and the politics of give-and-take.

What is even more disturbing is that whereas the reformist constitution makes it very clear that the only legitimate institution that politicians can use to get state power is the political party, not much attention is being paid to the need to nurture political parties as perhaps the most important institutions in this process of democratization.

To the contrary, the politics of exclusion has been pushed to the forefront of political struggles with a vengeance; and with that has come the nurturing of the culture of fear-mongering and an atmosphere of neo-fascism around certain ethnic big wigs. A democratic political culture stands to be undermined and not to be nurtured. Any party like the ODM struggling to nurture this culture is under threat from the anti-reformists.

The ODM, in this atmosphere of insecure fear-mongering politicians, is currently under attack. Unfortunately sections of the media have joined this cabal of crusaders against democracy by publishing and broadcasting sheer propaganda against the party in attempts to cause tension and disagreements within the party.

I was appalled to watch a news report on Citizen TV last Thursday night purporting to report on the ODM NEC meeting the previous day. According to the reporter, the meeting had seen a contest between Odinga and Mudavadi supporters over changes in the constitution. There was no such thing. In any case the meeting unanimously agreed to change our constitution in line with the new nomination rules.

To add insult to injury, the reporter went on to say that we had failed to take our membership lists to the Registrar of Political Parties on Thursday due to disagreements over the constitution. A lie – pure and simple. The Registrar was in Machakos for a seminar and requested us to take our papers on Tuesday April 10th. See you there Citizen.

In any case, the issue of a constitution does not arise with regard to filing in membership lists. The ODM constitution is already with the Registrar. When we change it we shall notify her in good time before the elections. Unlike other phantom parties, we are not a bus waiting for a driver; we exist in reality.

As if the propaganda of Citizen was not enough, the Saturday newspapers this weekend have choreographed their reports on the goings on in ODM as if the reporters are being coached by a single evil mind. We happen to have a good guess of who this fellow would be; he is definitely not an ODM member. Hence his machinations and his conspiracy theories will soon come tumbling down like a pack of cards.

Why do I say so? Because we are determined to do our things constitutionally, procedurally and without giving in to any intimidation or fear-mongering whatsoever.

Let us remember that the ODM is the only democratic party in Kenya today. Undermining the ODM is undermining the democratization process in our country.

We pride ourselves of having party leaders who have been elected by the people democratically. Other phantom parties are waiting for self-appointed leaders to dictate to them who leads them from the grassroots to the top.

We pride ourselves of having leaders who have been in the trenches with the people for many years. These are democrats tested by the painful struggle against the authoritarian rulers of yesterday and today.

We pride ourselves of having leaders who have fought for democracy for most of their adult lives and believe in democracy; they don’t just use democracy opportunistically to get into power.

We pride ourselves of being the home of the YES campaign which brought our reformist constitution. The YES campaign did not just begin in 2010; it began with the progressive nationalists such as Jaramogi and Kaggia soon after independence. The wakombozi then took it up under Moi and the Young Turks brought it to this very day.

ODM is home to all these democratic struggles. It shall survive the onslaught of the anti-reformists of today and ensure that democratic governance and devolution are entrenched in the political culture of our nation.

Nyong’o is the ODM Secretary General.

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  • Jannadas

    Beautifull.Anyang Nyongo is an Asset not only to ODM but to the republic of Kenya. Will
    pray the lord to give you a very long life.Long live my motherland Kenya.Best wishes.
    Assante Sana for this.

  • Pratt

    Odm is swiftly dying, thanks to like of you Sir! Without you, may be, just a may be, we would have died under the weight of Raila’s illogical presidency. If democracy means chasing and turning away supporters and prospective supporters, you are our ideal man Sir. Be blessed for burrying any hopes of Odm presidency 6ft under. You are such a good man indeed. When people play with the tribal outfit that remains of Odm, you quickly tell them to lay off! That you let Hon. Mudavadi know that the little twig now being called Odm has its owners is a good idea. Perhaps, deputy party leader will now be another big “O!” Then the ownership/leadership of our outfit will be totally complete tailored to suit our village desires. Our villagers have to own something come what may. You are our true positive man indeed. What else can we say and ask for Sir?

  • Shikokoti Evans, Vihiga

    I think MM is a coward and is revealing his true colors or his so called supporters are cheating him big. When the time comes, these people surrounding hiom will only care about their survival after milkiong him dry. Like 2002, this time atakarangwa viliyo. Why should someone spend alot of time shuttling across the country and continue issuing unnecessary ultimatums? WR tried his and every time got his way in ODM’s leadership but the cowardice in him made him shameless jump ship without seeking fresh mandate from the people. The same script is being played by MM. It happened in 2007 with KM. These are cowards that cannot make any meaningful decisions. I fear if these are the kind leaders Kenyans want to steer the country to nexty level. If he wants to leave ODM, he can freely choose many of the available parties that habve imposed leadership and dont want competion. always want easy things b

    • Pratt

      Raila Odinga is the coward unable to stand any challenge. He is the coward that was never popular at all. But once regional leaders delivered their tribal constituencies to him, he started lying to himself that he was popular. As its always with dictators, he quickly forgot that his so called popularity was merely a borrowed item! Thats why he rings hollow when he pretends to cast his foes as tribalists. The big lie thats Raila is a huge curse to all luos. Think of 40 something years wasted on lies and empty dramas, its despicable pal! Cursing other folks when the REAL CURSE is amongst ourselves is unbelievable insult. By the way, when will we face the hard reality? Cooking up stories about other people doesnt help at all, it only goes to alienate us. So whats the way forward? May be forgetting the painfull liar once and for all? Time for empty choices is over, we are already too behind!!!!

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