, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 1 – A top Law Society of Kenya official now says the formation of an umbrella movement christened Progressive Democratic Movement by the Party of National Unity could be detrimental to realisation of a new Constitution.
LSK Council Member Evans Monari said on Monday that MPs wanted to popularise the political movement in preparation for the forthcoming referendum and the 2012 elections.
He expressed fears that the launch of the movement could put the new Constitution in jeopardy and increase chances of a repeat of the 2005 referendum outcome that culminated into the post-election violence.
“Because we are getting into a referendum, it can be a uniting factor if the issues that they want to discuss are within what is in the content of the draft Constitution. It can also be divisive if they are going to take a position contrary to what ODM for instance stands for in the Constitution. That means that we have the same crisis we had between the orange and the banana groups,” he observed.
He however added that the new movement could be a good thing for the country if its agenda brought positive economic, political and social changes to the Kenyan table.
“The regrettable thing is that we are in campaign mode at all times. But political organisations if done maturely and with a purpose are good for the country. You want to see what their manifesto is, what is it that they want to do for Kenya that PNU could not do or ODM could not do. Having synonyms and all these other names being flaunted every other month does not help Kenyans,” he said.
Mr Monari who spoke during an exclusive interview with Capital News further added that the move by PNU and its affiliates was a survival tactic to make sure that the movement got the strength of numbers to counter the ODM political juggernaut.
“It just means that PNU, KANU and all these other people who are forming PDM realise that whatever vehicle they used last time may not be able to be a success. So they have organised themselves politically and formed a movement. You can also call it a political trial. Will PDM hold? Only time that can tell,” he said.
The LSK Council member further explained the difference between political parties and political movements as, “A political party is an organisation of people especially voters that is formed to influence the government’s conducts and policies by nominating and electing candidates to public office. A movement ideally is a group of people working together to advance a shared cause; it can be a political cause, a social one or economic. Even a chama is a movement.”
He further added that the umbrella movement could not get membership from the current batch of parliamentarians as the Political Parties Act 2009 prohibited anyone from defecting to other political parties while still a sitting MP. He said that if any MP declared his or her membership to PDM, then the Speaker of the National Assembly would be forced to declare their seat vacant and force them to go for a by-election.
“It is for that reason that you will not see any of the MPs be they in PNU or even ODM forming a new movement or a new political party. They will call it a movement or whatever but they will not change their loyalty from the parties that sponsored them to Parliament,” he said.
He added that the delay by PDM members to have it registered was also a tactic to see which political outfit was most preferred by Kenyans.
“Politicians are playing it safe by ensuring they do not fall foul of the political act and by delaying the formation or membership of PDM until as early to the election as possible but popularising it through rallies. PDM may not end up being the main political party for PNU and the coalition with the Vice President; they could change it as well and it will keep mutating as we move along until the elections,” he said.
Mr Monari further explained that the political parties Act was established to regulate political parties’ business and keep politicians in check however noting that political movements did not have any laid down regulations and policies.
“You know there are people in Kenya who have jumped across so many parties and they bring confusion to Kenya’s political life so the idea was to stop people from jumping from one political party to the next and check their funding. Political movements however are amorphous; they can do anything but if they registered then the director of political parties is obliged to look into their activities,” he said.
The MPs from PNU and affiliates parties launched the PDM movement last Saturday after attending a retreat in Naivasha.