Sunday, July 17, 2005

Party wrangles

I am a frustrated gentleman, and I do not think I am alone. I cannot be alone, no one can observe Kenyan politics (even casually as I do) and not feel completely and utterly dejected. Seriously, Kenyan politics seems to be an exercise in party wrangles, there has scarcely been a time (since the early 90s) when Kenyan politics has not been inundated with intra-party conflict. First it was FORD K vs. FORD A, then we had FORD K breakup into NDP, there was KANU A vs. KANU B, KANU then breaks into the Rainbow Coalition, then we have LDP Vs. NAK and now KANU vs. KANU. Politicians (and the nation at large) spend so much time on these petty political squabbles that little concrete action can occur. Many thought that the unity developed in NARC would be long lasting, indeed in his inaugural address the president assured Kenyans that there would be no wrangling: “Some prophets of doom have predicted a vicious in-fighting in following this victory. I want to assure you that they will be disappointed. When a group of people come together over an idea or because of a shared idea, such a group can never fail…" Oh how wrong he was.

The last two years have been marked by great rancor, what is most distrubing is that the fighting (as most political battles are in Kenya) has been over postions of power, not an “Idea”, or a “shared Idea”, but positions. I would be eternally more impressed with our politicians if their battles were over the soul of the party (or nation), if they were arguing over ideals and ideology (or even public policy), but alas, nothing like that seems to ever happen. Now we have KANU in the midst of an internal conflict that has little to do with developing effective and concrete policies that will see the party rise from its current sorry state. One would think the the defeat in 2002 would be encouragement enough for the party leaders to put aside their petty differences and work together.

It is quite interesting to compare and contrast the differences between politcs in other nations and Kenya. Democrats will have wrangles, but there usually over how far to the left the party will go, the same goes for the Republicans. In England Labour and the Tories have similar processes, as do Congress and the BJP in India. These political entities has an overaching ideal, or set of ideas that hold them together and guide their policy prescritptions. This is solerly lacked in Kenyan politics. The idea our president spoke of, was not an idea per se, it was a wish to get rid of a political force (Moi), there is little ideologically and politically that holds NARC or any other Kenyan party together and this is very sad and frustrating. It is my hope and prayer that one day we will indeed find a party or group of individuals who are united by an “idea” or “shared idea” who will move our politics from the superficial realpolitik, to a more serious ideological/policy based discourse.


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