It is necessary to change the way of doing politics…time for professional ethics is a precondition for good governance!
Once upon a time President Moi referred to politicians that kept on changing their parties as nomads. I think he was perfectly right. He had a far-reaching insight about the fate of Kenya’s politics. For the last decades Kenya has developed a political culture with no key outstanding principles or concrete ideological framework. Hopping from a party to the other happens in Kenya more than any other democracy in East Africa. It rarely happens in the USA where political liberalism originated from. In the United States of America it is a rare practice to see a Republican changing his or her affiliation to join Democrats because whether one is the ruling party of not. Such switching of parties has created in Kenya what is known as politics of betrayal. It has rendered many leaders incredibly redundant and out of touch with reality on the ground.
What is happening in Kenya today is a true picture of the political landscape politicians have created over some time. There is tendency to align oneself with the ruling party as it happened when multi-party system was re-introduced after being abolished by President Moi through Section 2A of the repealed constitution. Before the multi-party was re-introduced in 2001 to redefine the Kenya’s democracy there was only one party (KANU) and the changing of a party would mean having no party. One party system created a quasi fascist regime that saw some members of the opposition being tortured or forced out of the mainstream politics. Failure to subscribed to the ruling party was the same as being counted out from state offices. The system was demonized, undemocratic, unconstitutional and lead to authoritarianism.
Credit goes to those who struggled for a more democratic space even if second liberation was like committing political suicide. The late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Charles Rubia, Keneth Matiba and many other veterans who went down the history record for their exceptional struggle for democracy (second liberation).
Money politics backed by vested individual interests is what has lead to grand political corruption. A democracy which believes in buying votes is already corrupt and cannot qualify to be a democracy but demagogy. Persons with big money usually buy-out key influential politicians from strategic regions in order to boost their basket with more ballots. It is the tyranny of numbers as one Prof. Mutahi Ngunyi had predicted back before 2013 General Elections.
Using money or goodies to buy the will of the people is not democratic. It demonstrates social inequalities. Political corruption is the most dangerous practice for any young democracy that seeks to be a role model. It makes legislators and executives lose focus in real issues directly and indirectly affecting citizens making them over concentrate on their own personal benefits and business as usual. Needless to say, political economy blurred with corruption has brought about money and tribal politics, cum negative ethnicity. In this process politicians give hand-outs to their potential voters in order to win the confidence of the people. The electorates tend to believe whoever their local leader tells them is the best. This does not show political maturity and issue based thinking.
How can a corrupt elite who has used his savings to buy voters democratically represent the same constituents as required by the constitution? Some elected politicians proudly tell off their constituents that they bought them and they must recover the money before addressing their needs.
Political parties have also become lucrative business in Kenya and registering them has become very easy like churches. It is a question of who is who. It is about money and numbers.
Looking at the political tempo in Kenya, the nation is divided along ethnic affiliations. The winner takes it all syndrome has ensured that being in the opposition is like being in political cold where no affiliate of the opposition shall never get any job in government or state appointment.Scrupulous parties use their time in government to offer goodies to their supporters and awarding leaders ministerial positions in return.
The constitution of 2010 was meant to reduce the presidential power through devolved system of government because of the excesses of such power on individuals and their parties. President Kibaki was voted on NARC ticket. That was a merger party which was betrayed by its leaders after the job had been done. The President registered his Party for National Unity (PNU) which was supposed to help him keep to power. Now PNU is defunct party when its strategic members were lured to join TNA (The National Alliance) and some joined URP. In 2013, the two big parties formed a bigger alliance Jubilee and fielded one president to challenge the rival CORD.
It is obvious that the ruling party has access to government funds, institutions, and can use such opportunity to accumulate unaccounted wealth which can possibly be used to corrupt other leaders and electoral bodies.For example, the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission has had its fair share when politicians raised such allegations in 2016. Even if the entire team has been sent packing, the political terrain has never changed as the crescendo of political corruption is ever high.
During the last term of President Kibaki the government passed Political Parties Act to restrict politicians from changing their parties without losing their elective positions. Bribing of voters was outlawed. Kenya is back to where it was a decade ago by politicians being swayed by big money or promise to get positions in the government. It means, those who support the party in power are likely to be rewarded. Those who stick to the opposition shall not be considered and may also face some kind of punishment. This is not the fundamental freedom.
So hopping of parties can also be an imposition on individuals and their communities. It can be a result of socio-psychological torture and need for development.
Some leaders prefer not dishing out money but keep to their principles and ideologies as in the Western nations hoping to win.However, the poor voters do not consider ideals any more but rather, the urgent basic needs. For instance, whoever can afford paying in cash is better than that who has the ideas but cannot respond to the immediate needs.
To be successful in such a scenario a leader must negotiate with people. Such negotiation includes giving hand-outs, promising jobs, initiating projects, appointing members of the communities to state positions and using money. This is what is known as political corruption whose aim is to manipulate the sufferings of people. The hustlers will only understand one language, that of material benefit to satisfy immediate needs. Ideas, visions, missions, manifestos and values can come later.
What is negotiated democracy? This is the emerging interpretation of democracy in many African countries including Kenya. It means that there shall be no election but nomination within such arrangement. The nominators are delegates with personal vested interests. This shall encourage one party system which is going to be another twist to the principles of democracy. Namely, the merging of parties into one party is not the solution to the political corruption, partisan politics, and ethnic exclusiveness in Kenya.
The expression “It is our time to eat” is perfected in negotiated democracy. Is there anything such as African problems and African solutions in negotiated democracy?
Read us, like us, follow us…