August 9

Ethnic card in coalitions’ deals not healthy

Friday, May 20th, 2022 01:15 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga during the launch of the coalition at Jacaranda Grounds in March. PHOTO/Philip kamakya

The revelation of the negotiations currently going on as political parties develop a formula for winning the next elections reads like a bad chapter. It is the coalition of the big tribes represented by the big parties.

In Kenya Kwanza (KK) there is the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) represents a dominant people group. Achebe would consider UDA in KK as holding both the yam and the knife and giving to whomsoever they wish.

Among those waiting at the table are the representatives of the big tribes: Amani National Congress (ANC) representing a section of Western Kenya and joined by Ford-Kenya from the same region.

Then one has a plethora of parties representing Central Kenya communities and they are demanding huge shares in the next government, which include allocation of resources, governance posts and an indication of the influence they will wield.

It is no different in the other coalition of Azimio-One Kenya. What has demonstrated the glaring machismo of the negotiators are the demands being put on the table by the Wiper Party. 

Some sources suggest that Wiper has already extracted a lot of concessions from the presidential candidate of Azimio, and still wants some more. If the stories are true, the regional area that serves as the backyard of Wiper support will get a 20 per cent share of the government plus other goodies. But Wiper is demanding more.

The worry is in small communities are not big enough to form a party of their own and thus put their demands on the table. Parties in Kenya are essentially community outfits headed by people who consider themselves to have influence in their own backyard.

There are parties, and they are many, that are hardly known beyond the villages where their founders come from. Some do not have any following beyond their counties or in some cases, they are not known beyond sub-counties.

On the other hand, there are communities who even if they were to come together as one, their population would occupy no more than a section of a county. Who will stand up for these counties when they have no political party of their own?

The resources that are at the centre of the negotiations are the revenue generated from across the country. Small as they may be, these communities contribute their share just as much to the national coffers.

In any case, developing this country is the responsibility of the government in power irrespective of the population in a region.

But if the big communities will have curved off their shares, have those shares captured in the grey matter deposited with some legal firm so that they do not change then what chances do small communities have of having their regions equally developed?

The country belongs to all Kenyans irrespective of the size of their communities and all should feel that they will be represented in the administration and resources applied to the development of their region.

They too should have the confidence that in a Kenya of the 21st century, they will have equal opportunity to develop the country, even lead it, and not wait until their population add up to attract the attention of those who hold the yam and the knife.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, they should have the confidence that they will be judged by the content of their character, which should determine their ability to even lead this country and not the size of their population.

Yet this raw ambition speaks more of the greed of regional elites rather than the interest of the elites in the needs of the community.

On the Azimio side, the resources suggested being dedicated to the Wiper regional backyard already seem pretty impressive.

But the Wiper leader for now would have none of it. His demands are not so much about the community, but about the leader himself.

This is the tragedy of the nation’s leaders because it is not about the vision for the country, but the interests of the individual.

— The writer is the dean, School of Communication, Daystar University

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