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Kenya deserves elections not selections

Published Jan. 27, 2013

Thank God Kenya’s 10th Parliament has officially wound up; this is honestly put considering the shameful inception of the August House five years ago. Acrimony surely is the worst foundation to lay on an institution ordained to oversee the affairs of the people.

This Parliament was constituted on a dubious note riding on the backdrop of bungled and dubious elections. Pride of place goes to Kenyans who dutifully partook in their five yearly rituals, only for the hungry mob AKA parliamentarians to alter what voters said in exchange for uncertainty and confusion. As if the coffin in the 10th Parliament did not earn enough nails, they dully connived to steal from Kenyans once again, of course President Mwai Kibaki in mock concern, but in hypocritical fashion, turned the wild looting mentality in the name of sendoff package into “mine is rather understandable”.

In this space, I once prayed for the time when all the 210 parliamentarians would be arrested, thrust in one very tiny cell and the key to that cell thrown right in the middle of the Indian Ocean; there is still reason for that.

The culture of Kenyans being subjected by leaders, to sessions of selection in the name of elections should come to an end. Looking at the recently concluded nominations fiasco, it is hard to claim that our politics has undergone any transformation or even reforms. Many times the will of the Kenyan populace has been twiddled with by the very representatives who for their selfish survival’s sake, have hoodwinked and watered down the aspirations of the people like a gang of marauders.

Kenyans voted for a new constitution for the sole reason that they wanted change, but their representatives have dragged their feet toward implementation of cardinal sections, mutilated sections not in their survival interests or watered down the essence of crucial clauses.

The recent nominations sadly display a retrogressive political situation in Kenya because in essence, and right before them, major leaders ganging as usual under the banner of tribal warlords had steered the minds of their supporters in a given direction. The country had long been Balkanized and a context of tribal superiority was already staring the mighty nation in the eyes. To add valour to this situation was the careful selection of who would carry the flack right from the counties to the national stable. The result was sure to ignite fire from both disgruntled and a few complicit citizens.

Anybody claiming to be a reformer in our political class should answer to the world why the political party element in democracy is a sham in Kenya. As much as the political party exists for agitation and propaganda, it has the mandate to exhibit organization of the aggregate that is its membership.

We now want strong and enduring political parties grounded not in neat and shelved manifestos, but transparent in the belief of their existence, relevance, and honour, through unwavering ideology. If I do not believe in one ideology, exigencies of power thirst cannot allow me to hop from one “party” to another. We are applying mock democracy and this will endure until we doff the tribal banner, and graduate into ideological business devoid of personality fiefdoms held by the leaders whose egos we have fattened and inflated over the years. This sorry state of affairs is the reason we fight every “selection year”.

Organized democracies have fully paid up members who own their party by subscription and demand accountability through neatly spelt out and trusted structures. If we had real and strong political parties, the citizenry would not throng open centres to gamble in the name of nominating candidates for national office, the party machineries can and ought to do that business. This way schools and businesses do not have to shut down all because cheeky business is going on.

When former President Daniel Arap Moi held the infamous queue voting in 1988, people who now control political space in Kenya used them to hound him for dictatorial mentality. Today they have mastered the art by dishing nomination certificates as opposed to issuing them to outright winners. Yet in a shaky political structure, how would the parties know that the so called winners are not products of infiltration by rival “parties”?

The answer lies in the non-existence of the party structure and in its place a multi-faceted conglomerate of parliamentary been to’s, clamouring for perpetual hegemony. A look at the composition of the patches of vote hunting blocks reveals a cabal of figureheads dying to hold onto the “mandate” of the previous five yearly selections, by imposing their “popularity” on the innocent citizen. The problem with our democracy is not age, reform or integrity; it is the absence of the political party in its true colours.

Reach Lawrence Chiteri at Lchiteri@eafricainfocus.com

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