First of all, let me congratulate Elijah Memusi for capturing the Kajiado central parliamentary seat. Your resilience and sheer determination paid off. Winning against a mounted campaign supported by the Head of State, his deputy and CS for the Interior is no mean task. You faced a un- leveled political battlefield and you were seen as the ‘Dark-Horse’ of the race. You must, therefore, not take for granted the efforts of multitudes who defied the heat, bad infrastructure and some at advanced age to cast their votes for you. The aspirations and hopes of these people lie squarely on your shoulders.
Why is the ODM’s win important for Kenya’s Democracy?
ODM’s win in Kajiado central parliamentary seat contest was the best gift that the gods granted the agenda of democracy for this nation. Jubilee has been riding on its famous tyranny of numbers, baffling the opposition leaving them gasping for breath. This tyranny of success has stretched all the way to the August House where the ruling coalition has managed to pass most bills, some deemed retrogressive e.g. the Security Laws (amendment) Act of 2015, albeit amidst acrimony. Pundits have claimed that the Legislature has become a rubber stamp arm of the Executive. Objective discussions have become white elephants, the house has become one big gas chamber for the opposition legislators who are outnumbered by the ruling coalition. Jubilee has been running like a whirlwind carrying everything on its way.
Role of the opposition
The opposition plays a very important role in furthering democracy. This includes oversight and scrutiny of government actions to ensure that they adhere to the public interest threshold. The opposition must also be involved in fighting for the democratic space and playing an active role in oversight of pieces of legislations. Never in the history of our great nation has the opposition been in a state of confusion (except in the first year of NARC coalition rule) like it is now. The opposition has manifested incompetence. Their ideologies are punctured, archaic and out of touch with reality that cannot put the ‘digital’ government in check. That’s a dangerous precedence because the government needs objective accountability. During the Nyayo era, there was only one party headed by the retired President Moi. You had to pledge your allegiance to him lest you lost your appointment through a newscast on KBC. Worse still, the region you came from would receive an assortment of marginalization actions delivered in lethal measures from the state. You had to sing the tune of the government even when it was off key.
With this win, ODM party can set sail towards effective execution of its role as a watchdog. ODM must do self-cleansing by purging out mediocrity, perceived hooliganism and restricted internal democratic space. The crucible of the just concluded by-election should make it as fit as a fiddle; a government in waiting. The rusty engines of the party must now be lubricated for the long journey ahead because ODM has been projecting an image of a run down car abandoned near Nairobi river. It has not played its role with excellence, rather, it has been managed like a roadside kiosk with great levels of incompetence. This win can act as a jab of strength and focus needed to revamp the party. It’s only when you have been close to the grave that your will to survive increases. It can act as the final clarion call that can remove the tinted glasses ODM captains wear. With general elections just three years away, the opposition must wake up from its slumber and convince Kenyans that it can be trusted with the pedals of power. And that will have a ripple effect on the jubilee camp. Why?
There is a definite attitude change after an election loss.
The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine, so the Yoruba Proverb goes. Jubilee clinched power, then a sense of comfort settled in too. In Chinua Achebe’s book A man of the People, there is a character by the name Chief Nanga. He believed in false popularity but later lost the election to underdogs. Jubilee must not undermine the opposition however run down it looks. A wounded cat fights ferociously than a live tiger. So they went to the battle with the ‘Goliath’ mentality and treated the by-election as a trial balloon. And you know what happened next, ODM served the revenge cold. However, this should be a time of reflection for the ruling coalition. To honestly examine its agenda and how it is perceived. The ruling coalition must mute the voices of ‘yes’ people and sycophants and invest in seeking credible opinions that will be willing to tell it the truth, however bitter it is. The jubilee regime must stay hungry like they did during the March 2013 election. For them, it was a win or die situation. There is no room to be reluctant or lethargic. Complacency must receive ‘a pig’s beating in a mosque’ kind of response. There is no time to belch, chew the cud or ride on 2013 March’s success. Jubilee will be judged purely on its performance record come 2017.
Political Competition Benefits
Competition from the opposition will make the ruling coalition work harder to get re-elected. Jubilee can’t afford to just coast along. Instead jubilee has to work for every vote and really listen to, and act on, the concerns of voters. Further, this competition will lead to better service for citizens because Jubilee and the opposition will be competing to present better proposals and serve their constituents in a more dedicated way.
Kajiado central polls acted as the ultimate wake-up call for both sides of the political divide. And guess who will be the beneficiary? KENYANS!
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