5 December 2012

Kenya: There Is Still Room for a Coalition of Real Change


Kenya goes to the election on March 2013 to elect a government that will end insecurity, impunity, grow the economy and create hope and jobs, build a more cohesive nation and ensure social justice.

Unfortunately this election is not about these issues but about electing the lesser evil. That is why this may become the Le Pen election.

In the last election that Jacque Chirac was elected President of France, a journalist interviewed a lady headed to vote and asked who she preferred.

The lady said "I am going to vote against Le Pen". "So you are voting for Chirac?" The Lady clarified that she was voting against Le Pen not for Chirac. In other words Chirac was not her choice but she could not live with a Le Pen Presidency.

Unfortunately, this election is not about the not so great ideas that each team is presenting but about which man or women every Kenyan is trying to ensure does not ascend to power.

One side of Kenya will vote to ensure that Uhuru does not become President while the other side shall be voting to ensure Raila does not come to power.

Do not be fooled by these politicians and their big rallies. It is evident that the ODM gang with Gumo, Kajembe, Kosgey, Obure is soul mates with Ruto, Uhuru, Ongeri on the Uhuru side.

This is KANU A and B competing except that in 2002 Raila supported Kibaki but this time he is the one on the ballot and while it was him building the ethnic Pentagon in 2007, Uhuru has been better in convening that ethnic Pentagon this time.

The factors defining this election are four: the ICC trials, party organization, ethnic mobilization in the light of the 50+1% rule and money.

Nothing else has changed since 1992 except that Raila is not a king maker but the candidate on the ballot and all those he has politically embarrassed on the way have come to unite to stand up to him. The stakes have never been higher in the history of independence Kenya.

For the Uhuru-Ruto side, they have every thing to lose if they do not win this election and everything to gain; they have to capture power to deal with the ICC millstone hanging around their neck.

On this they do not trust any one including President Kibaki to unhook them from the ICC hanger. So they have mobilized their supporters by asserting that it is Raila who instigated the ICC to get them out of the race.

Their supporters do not need the Waki report to believe them because even Raila's supporters believe everything he says religiously. So here is a toast to our degenerate political culture.

The way to organize to capture power in Kenya is to create a mortal enemy out there and mobilize your ethnic community around it. This works because people have seen that when the strong men get into power they give the key ministries to their tribesmen and in the end resources, plum jobs and contracts go to those who voted for the winner.

To succeed in consolidating your voting bloc one must inspire fear through narratives of betrayal and victimization, marginalization and exclusion. The ICC narrative is the strongest in this election and what is amazing is how Raila Odinga has flipped flopped on this matter so many times.

But secondly, money has to be used. The amounts of money that are used are mind boggling. This money is not donated by ordinary Kenyans like they do for Obama in the US.

This is big money looted from the public coffers, from the drug dealing business, tax evasion and many other illicit sources. Kenyans have encouraged this to go on as we are desperate to be bribed with the dirty money. So we have no one to blame.

The pre-election coalitions that are being hammered this election are a necessary survival tactic because of the reality of the 50+1% majority needed to win the presidency unlike in the previous elections.

There is no pretence to some agenda in the coalition talks because this is the bottom-line. Unfortunately for Kalonzo, Martha, Mudavadi, Peter Kenneth and others, these are the four factors that they have to deal with. And none of them have tried to organize politics differently.

It is up to those of us who reject this kind of reality to organize politics differently by building new winning alliances based on the interests of Kenyan workers, women, entrepreneurs, the youth, the marginalized and the disadvantaged.

These groups will have to finance a new political organization and candidates so that they dictate what government does for them. Currently politicians do what they want with impunity because they have purchased us and our government. We are their stock in the stock exchange.

Cyprian Nyamwamu is a Panafrican Governance, Gender and Leadership Specialist 796 Words

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