Political parties should be fair in enforcing discipline
Thursday, May 28th, 2020
The governing Jubilee Party has for the past two weeks embarked on a dramatic clean-up which, its leaders say, is meant to instil discipline.
Among the casualties were Senate members who were removed from their committee positions for perceived divided loyalty.
A number of senators, especially those associated with Deputy President William Ruto, have been kicked out of critical committees for snubbing a parliamentary meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House.
Of the five who failed to attend the party meeting, two apologised while three are on trial before a disciplinary committee for alleged disobedience and disrespect for the party and its leadership.
As the purge gains momentum, focus has shifted to the National Assembly where more Ruto sympathisers are targeted.
All indications are that the party’s National Executive Council is likely to clear the way for the changes in the House.
The general argument is that disloyal members should quit the party. And those who fail to vote along party lines or abstain from voting against party directives should be punished.
A recent study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union concluded that the relationship between the concept of a free parliamentary mandate, recognised as an essential condition for democracy, and party discipline as a functional premise of the party system poses a major challenge to the idea of a parliamentary system of government.
The Kenyan political situation presents a more complex situation. Our parties are highly personalised and driven by a brand of politics mobilised around tribal voting blocs and ethnic chieftains.
Ostensibly crafted to promote democracy, justice, human rights and the rule of law, most parties serve as election vehicles for regional kingpins.
There is no real difference between the various political formations on the basis of ideology. This is even as they claim to represent the values and political aspirations of its members.
Political parties, which should be the nurseries of democracy, are public entities that are funded by taxpayers as well as members.
Kenyans are, therefore, entitled to demand accountability in the management of parties.
While we encourage efforts to ensure discipline in political parties, the process should transparent and prosecuted in manner that protects fairness, reason, healthy political competition and human rights.