NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – The decision by 12 political parties to form the Jubilee Party was a good move but if it will hold beyond the nomination level and the 2017 General Election will be a test, according to public policy analyst Dr Karuti Kanyinga.
Though Jubilee says its unity has solidified the country’s democracy, Dr Kanyinga said its future stability depends on its capacity to fulfil promises made to the leaders of the constituent political parties before they merged.
“This party will remain together for a long time until maybe after the election but depending on promises people have made and bargains that people have struck. If the bargains are not addressed we are likely to see internal challenges of putting the party together.”
Though it is not the first time political parties have come together, Dr Kanyinga opined that the merger was a ray of hope to Kenya’s longest quest of having fewer political parties that wear a national outfit.
In his view Jubilee has managed to bring together regional political parties which for many years existed in the guise of being national while on scrutiny were a mere representation of tribes.
Dr Kanyinga explained Jubilee has issues of the entire country on its agenda due to the extensive representation in the new party.
Whereas Jubilee has become a party of unity as advocated by its supporters, there are concerns if it will hold beyond nominations and the 2017 General Election.
This has a bearing on Kenya’s longest history of broken political promises that even where there was hope that they would last, their dreams were trashed.
Looking back at the days of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) and its short lived span even after changing the country’s history by ending former President Daniel arap Moi’s 24 year-rule, trust that different parties can unite and last has always been dim.
Despite the short span of NARC, Dr Kanyinga said a lot was achieved through the unity of purpose agreement which was to end the era of oppressive politics and propel the country’s economy.
“They remained together for close to two years and within those years the country did a lot in terms of democratic and governance reforms and deepening them. They advanced certain reforms that they had never done before,” Dr Kanyinga recalled.
That’s why Jubilee’s big test will be its ability to keep it glued in the unity of purpose.
The secret to that unity, Dr Kanyinga explained, lies in fulfilling of the promises made to leaders of the 12 parties before they assented to the dissolution proposal.
Without honouring what was promised, he warned the party will not last.
“There is no one who is getting into this merger who is a leader of a political party who has not struck a certain form of a bargain. You hold together to the extent that your bargain is being adhered to.”
However, a fallout within Jubilee could also stem from supporters whose undisclosed personal expectations will not be met.
“There are others who have come together with certain expectations but they may not have put those expectations on the table. Those are the people likely to feel aggrieved if their bargains are not properly addressed.”
In acknowledgment that politics is business and politics is arguably money for some people, “there are some individuals who got into this merger not with the need for taking political positions but are seeing a business opportunity.”
If those who went in for business don’t see it, then they are likely to exit.
“It will of course depend on how much is there to share and how much is there to give to various political parties within Jubilee.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto have pledged that Jubilee’s nomination process will be free and fair and no candidate will receive any form of favour.
Looking at Nairobi County alone, Jubilee political heavyweights have expressed their interest for the governorship.
They include Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, Water Minister Eugene Wamalwa, former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru, nominated MP Johnson Sakaja and Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru.
This many view as stiff competition within Jubilee with fears that it could lead to a major fallout.
There are other aspirants who joined Jubilee knowing that they didn’t stand chances of winning in their initial parties.
Such people, Dr Kanyinga explained opted to join Jubilee to at least benefit from a big party other than lose and remain nowhere in their small parties.
It is a group of politicians who can also cause uproar within the new party if they realise they still have no chances of winning.
With Jubilee, at the national level, it is clear that the presidential candidate is Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate is DP Ruto.
But at the county level, the governorship is equally attractive and very competitive creating an atmosphere that may pressurise aspiring candidates to opt out before the party nominations considering the party hoping law that can lock them out if they lose at the nomination level.
Such candidates may opt to exit from Jubilee.
According to Dr Kanyinga, the ‘clever’ aspiring candidates maybe having secret parties which they will reveal if they stand no chances of emerging as winning candidates within Jubilee.
“I suspect some of the of clever politicians are keeping some parties in the pocket to say that I will not go for Jubilee nomination depending on who else is going for it so that at least I have got a better chance of winning and if we are going for Jubilee nomination I might lose.”
But also coming together of the 12 parties doesn’t translate to automatic votes.
Dr Kanyinga advised Jubilee to be prepared to deal with voter apathy that may occur if people’s candidates do not succeed at the nomination level.
“My fear is that if Jubilee doesn’t mobilise effectively sometimes the voter turnout is affected by who is standing for what particular position and that would happen if local notables don’t stand for positions that may reduce voter turnout.”