Political alliances serve no useful purpose


A  stormy debate is raging  on  whether  political party coalitions  should be formed  before  or  after elections  in  a volatile political atmosphere.  However,  the time  at  which  these   tribally based alliances  in Kenya   should  be constituted  is  immaterial.   What should be of interest to the general public and  the electorate   is the   purpose  for  which such  groupings are formed.

A casual review  of historical  experiences  is replete   with examples of caucuses  formed  with selfish motives  without tangible  benefits  to the  nation. More recent   such  groupings include  the  National Rainbow  Coalition (NARC),  the short-lived  merger between  the  then ruling party, Kenya African National Union, (KANU) and  the little  known   National Development Party (NDP) in 2002, Gikuyu  Meru  Embu Association (GEMA) and  Kalenjin Maasai, Turkana   Samburu Association  (KAMATUSA)  amongst  others.

NARC, a  conglomeration of  Kanu rebels  and  opposition parties could not last  after 2002  general  elections in  which  it emerged  victorious. The  coalition  partners failed to  agree on the  need  to deliver a new  Constitution  as per  one  of the  electoral pledges. NDP-KANU merger  could not hold together  over the  choice of a presidential candidate,  prompting  an exodus of some veterans  and new members exodus to NARC  and other parties, GEMA was overwhelmed  by the  historical forces  that catapulted  Moi  to power and KAMATUSA  never took off for  reasons  yet to be explained.

Other coalitions swallowed and digested by dominant organisations were pre-independence  political parties, African Peoples Party (APP) and the  Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). For good, they  lost their identities in the merger with the indomitable  Kanu.

From the   foregoing, it is  therefore  safe to conclude  that  the  Kikuyu, Kamba Kalenjin (KKK)  which has undergone  a metamorphosis  into  a group of seven  and is  cloning into  United Democratic Front (UDF)  and  Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) is   just another exercise  in futility.

The  sole  purpose  of G7 is not only to frustrate the presidential bid of one aspirant but also to  block the same  Prime  Minister, Raila  Amolo  Odinga  from succeeding President Mwai Kibaki whose  second  and last term ends  sometime  in 2012. The group contemplates  mobilising  their  respective  communities  to vote  as a  bloc  in the  next general elections  against  an individual reminiscent to another amorphous group  that campaigned for amendments to the  constitution  to  stop  a vice president from automatically  acting  for 90 days in the event of incapacity of the  the office holder.  That was  a tribal  plot   to  stop  the then Vice  President  Daniel  arap Moi, a non Kikuyu   from succeeding the late President Jomo Kenyatta.

The G7 manifesto, ideology  and clarion call  of a  nobody,   but  Raila   is not  a glue  that can  hold Kenya  together  in the  foreseeable future , neither can  it be converted  into a programme of action  to spur national  development  and prosperity. Like others before it,G7 will only serve  short term interests. Like other coalitions before it, G7 has no national agenda  and will only  serve  the  interest of a few  in the short term.

The latter day  Grand Coalition government, despite  its  many  difficulties  and shortcomings has only survived  due  to  pressure  from the  international community, informed populace  and  vibrant  civil society groups. The coalition  is a creature  of cross party negotiations  following post election  violence  in which  more than a thousand  people perished  and   more  than half million  uprooted from their  homes mainly in the  Rift  Valley  region.

Former  UN  Secretary General, Kofi Annan  presided over the  inter-party  peace talks  on a bungled  presidential elections. A  raft  of radical proposals  were drawn   amongst  them, extensive  consultations on the  day to day  administration of the  state and delivery of a new constitution.  Contrary to the  spirit  and  letter of the  National Accord on Peace  and Reconciliation, consultations  are rare  except in crisis  situations.

The  ongoing  cacophony  in the  coalition aptly  explains  the  fragility  of amorphous  alliances previously formed    without clear  cut national   aims  and  objectives. Betrayals  are  common place  in groups  of  all  shades and persuasions that come into  being notably  when elections approach but  crumble  soon  after. They  are  ethnic outfits  founded  on  no known or firm  ideological principles.

One   such  alliance  that  disintegrated   soon  after  trouncing  the  oldest political  party Kanu was  NARC. Its flag bearer,  Kibaki presided  over a  crisis  ridden  government  because  coalition partners  were pulling  in different directions. In the  2005  referendum, a coalition partner  spearheaded  opposition  to the  enactment  of a doctored  draft  constitution. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ministers  lost their cabinet status when the  cabinet  was dissolved, reconstituted and renamed  Government of National Unity(GNU).

When it became apparent that Kibaki was not likely to defend  his seat on a NARC ticket, the president abandoned ship and helped launch  the  Party of  National Unity (PNU) that  brought  together patches from  Ford Kenya, Kanu, DP  and NARC Kenya amongst others. Without saying much about fragility of non ideological outfits,  PNU is in  no  doubt going to  be  a casualty of betrayal that characterises the  country’s politics. Meanwhile, PNU  founders  are  either in newly  crafted  outfits  or going solo.

At the  core  of  these alliances is  nothing else but succession. One cabinet  minister said as much in 2003 when he remarked that ‘we  do not need  a constitution now that  Moi  and Kanu  are not in power and one  of our own is at the helm”. But,   succession debate without   healing  the  wounds  of post election  violence is  sacrilegious. Tribal based groupings  should  be  condemned  in  the  strongest terms possible for  they  promote  xenophobia  and  reduce  other Kenyans  to mere  voters and   not participants.

The writer is  a former cabinet minister and secretary general of two  national parties including the oldest political party, Kenya African National Union (KANU) Email. kamothojj@gmail.com

Hit enter to search or ESC to close