BY MACHEL WAIKENDA
Ethiopian statesman Haile Sellasie once said; “History teaches us that unity is strength, and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals, to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true African brotherhood and unity.”
Promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 was the single most critical and biggest stride the citizens of this country made this century. In the new supreme law are the revised hopes, aspirations and milestones Kenyans hoped will actualise the fruits of the Second Liberation.
The power of this rallying together is represented by the re-statement of their common resolve to make Kenya a better place to live and work in for all.
To achieve this, several new institutions were mooted and older ones restructured to bus forward the new realities. Judicial and legislative safeguards, separation of powers, checks and balances, ordered the changes to these institutions so that individual’s strengths are magnified by the power of their common vision and goal.
So even as radical surgery and wide-ranging reforms were carried out to entrench the rule of law and de-link the Judiciary from the Executive, the latter was also shorn of many of its draconian cloak of yesteryears. The Legislature was also restructured in line with the devolution of power from the central government to the counties to better spread the developmental national cake-making ingredients. There are myriad teething problems but the entire process is work-in-progress to ensure a strong institutional framework.
The Uhuruto administration has decided to make a difference. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto came to power riding on an alliance of the United Republican Party (URP) and The National Alliance (TNA). At the beginning however, it appeared to be business-as-usual since this vessel followed in the footsteps of the former Kibaki-Raila Grand Coalition government, NARC’s motley of parties before it and the KANU-NDP merger, a product of the infamous Kisirani Kasarani debacle.
But in order to shepherd the new vision enshrined in the New Constitution, it was important to strengthen the Jubilee Alliance into a singe entity since history has proved that mass movements can bring about stable and durable conditions. It is this thinking that defines the move to a URP-TNA undertaking called Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) to share a roof towards actualizing the Jubilee Manifesto.
It is not too forward to see the Opposition also coalescing into one vessel or movement in order to, espouse and advance their common goals and values. It is however critical to appreciate that ideas flow better when they are approached from a common line of thinking.
Our Constitution being a hybrid of the Westminster and United States of America models will eventually shadow these political systems. As it is in the US two major players – Republican Party and Democratic Party, dominate the political chessboard. The UK is dominated by the Conservatives and the Labour parties. Of course there are several smaller players, but these only come into play when some advantage is sought in passing legislation.
Closer to home, some of the most stable and lasting political movements have been Kenya’s Independence party KANU, Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi, Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF and South Africa’s African National Congress. But being a multi-party democracy does not mean we must have hundreds of parties, which result in the multiplication of similar ideas.
Unification cuts costs of operation, engenders unity of purpose since teamwork is magnified when people unite around a central and shared purpose and eliminates self-interest. Therefore, it was a question of when rather than if URP and TNA were going to merge into one strong and visionary entity.
Their shared vision will better serve and interact with the various institutions and instruments that were strengthened by revision of the independence Constitution of Kenya. It will help approach the Jubilee Manifesto through one prism aimed at securing the future of the country.
Towards the next election, JAP has a greater chance of keeping their supporters as well as attracting new ones. This united front will also strengthen unity of the country, which is one of the key visions of President Kenyatta and his Deputy Ruto.
With just a few years left to the next election, the Jubilee Coalition has its work cut out in spurring countrywide development. The JAP bond will accelerate this dream as well as secure collective support of Kenyans.
JAP must therefore not lose sight on the vision of the political marriage that was overwhelmingly supported by Kenyans in the last election. JAP must move forward that it is not only a political vehicle for the next election but the ruling party which must at all costs ensure that the country achieves the collective goals of all Kenyans.
A lot in the Jubilee manifesto is yet to be realised and JAP must therefore work on these goals. Though this, it is set to win the hearts and goodwill of millions of Kenyans that voted for the opposition in the last election.
Granted there will be dissenting voices to JAP, we should remember the words of Saki who said: “Every reformation must have its victims. You can’t expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal’s return.”
But then again, dissent is a crucial pillar of the democratic process.
(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)