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Jubilee State House will use its crushing parliamentary majority to have its way

Whichever way you look at it, Kenya is going to have a legislative dictatorship. A Jubilee State House will use its crushing parliamentary majority to do as it pleases.

A National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidency will be forever besieged by an impeachment-threatening Jubilee-dominated Legislature.

Nasa prepared to win the presidential poll, but did not equally adequately prepare for the General Election.

How did this come to be? Early in the year, millions urged Nasa to pick its presidential ticket expeditiously and start preparations for the August 8 General Election.

It is the better prepared party that wins elections. So, I argued, by picking its torchbearer early Nasa would have ample time for the increasingly complex business of preparing and running an election campaign.

In the event, Nasa was still squabbling over its torchbearer three months to the General Election when it faced the new and equally problematic challenge of organising nominations.

RAILA ODINGA

When Nasa eventually settled on the Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka ticket, the coalition could not agree on holding joint primaries.

Therefore each of the five affiliate parties held its own nominations. So while a dozen parties had collapsed into one called Jubilee a year to the General Election, Nasa emerged this year and, surprisingly, campaigned variously as Orange Democratic Movement, Wiper Democratic Movement, Amani National Congress, Ford Kenya and Chama Cha Mashinani.

It cannibalised itself, confused electors, splintered vote blocks and created enemies within.

Then losers of its myriad shambolic primaries swiftly turned independent candidates and added to the cacophony in the five-way Tower of Babel.

It was clear in 2015 that Jubilee had targeted Coast, Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Ukambani and Luhyaland as areas where it would fight the opposition to increase its support ahead of the General Election.

FOOTBALL ANALOGIES

Nasa appeared content to play defence rather than attack the Jubilee heartlands of Central and Mt Kenya regions and the vote-rich Rift Valley.

Mr Odinga thrills electors with football analogies. But he missed the fact that while defensive strategies protect team leads, they serve better when employed as platforms for attack.

The best form of defence is attack, but defensive Nasa did not counter-raid Jubilee’s turf. Sitting back and deep, it invited waves of Jubilee attacks, and ceded ground.

What did Nasa sell Kenyans? The coalition complained more than it campaigned. It made a fetish of accusing Jubilee and the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission of plotting to rig the election. The electorate heard more about this than it did about Kenya’s Sh4 trillion debt, exclusivist Jubilee administration or wanton wastage by government.

Nasa had a fantastic case to make for an activist government on behalf of ordinary people given the high cost of basic commodities and high rents charged by landlords.

BEAT OPPONENTS

But this was not explained on the stump. You cannot beat opponents if you shun opportunities to brand them insensitive and out of touch, especially when electors were saying Kenya was headed in the wrong direction.

It is why Jubilee seized every chance to portray Mr Odinga as the devil-in-chief.

The President and Deputy consistently attacked Mr Odinga on the stump and occasionally took time to remind the electorate of the government’s achievements.

Then, they promised more if given a second term.

Ultimately, Nasa was comprehensively beaten to the Legislature and governorships and, to rub salt in the wound, Nairobi City County.

Worse, Jubilee’s overwhelming majority in the Legislature portends a sinister outlook. Parties that are routed at general elections suffer crises of confidence and may not take power for at least a decade.

Therefore Kenya’s opposition parties need to build for the future.

GOVERNANCE

They need a new agenda for creating governance that intercedes for the majority that are struggling to make ends meet and, they need new, younger and visionary leaders to bring fresh ideas to the political arena. 

This is an urgent call because Deputy President William Ruto began campaigning for his election in 2022 in 2013. He will treat this five-year stint as the homestretch in a long distance race to State House.

His pointmen were elected MPs, MCAs, senators and governors. They are ready for action.

This is also a tough call because parties first need to learn lessons from the August 8 General Election. Why did informed Nairobians choose Mr Gideon Mbuvi Sonko for governor and give Mr Miguna Miguna’s brilliant manifesto for developing Nairobi into a world class metropolis short shrift?

 Opanga is a commentator with a bias for politics [email protected]

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