Jubilee leaders have to be kept in check, they’re busy unmaking the Constitution - Orengo

Sunday January 10 2016

Siaya Senator James Orengo.

Siaya Senator James Orengo. "We are only playing the traditional role of the Opposition; that of keeping the government in check. This should never be construed as early campaigns." FILE PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JUSTUS WANGA
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INTERVIEW WITH SENATOR JAMES ORENGO

Why are you putting the country on a campaign mode nearly two years to the next elections?

I don’t think so. A lot of people in the business often say that the campaign for the next election begins when results of the previous one are announced.

We are only playing the traditional role of the Opposition; that of keeping the government in check. This should never be construed as early campaigns.

All indicators are, outside Burundi and Somalia which are experiencing extreme conditions, our economy is in dire straits.

Unless some degree of vigilance and warning signs are sent out, we will never have proper elections. One, the IEBC has integrity issues, there are indications they are geared towards supporting Jubilee in elections.

They are not being given finances to carry out basic functions such as registration of voters. We must therefore speak out now rather than later.

Whatever is happening in key agencies like the police and the Judicial Service Commission is not what is supposed to. Jubilee activists have been nominated to it (JSC) yet this is the body that more or less runs the Judiciary.

We cannot keep quiet when they are presiding over the unmaking of the Constitution.

Don’t you think that the high-level politicking you are engaging in right now will slow down economic growth and hurt the poor most?

The responsibility is with Jubilee. If they gave us good governance, did not interfere with the work of independent institutions, then these cycles of hostilities would not occur.

Without a doubt, Kenya is no different from other nations; where there exist such glaring anomalies, problems tend to occur.

For instance, the economy of Ivory Coast suffered so much before credible elections were conducted. When they eventually got it right, their economy rose from the ruins. Efficient, fair and transparent governance is healthy even for the economy.

Some of the language used in your recent statements amounts to borderline invective. Will it not overheat the political debate?

There is a need for moderation. This can only come from the government in power if the legitimate questions and concerns we are raising were addressed.

The Kenyan public is not gullible. The trouble is, when they respond, it is howling and name calling. Compare the statement Raila Odinga made a few days ago, calling on President Kenyatta to stick to the point and the issues.

But how did State House respond? That was not stately communication. It was so raw. We need more sober minds in government.

The 2007 General Election was marked by high-gear campaigning and provocative rhetoric; what is your coalition doing to ensure that as you pass your message across, Kenya never slides back to the brink?

In the new constitutional dispensation, it is not a question of the governed against the governed, it is about an inclusive society where it is not just about representative democracy but also elements of direct democracy and that’s why our Constitution says very loudly that sovereignty is with the people.

It is a mixture of Greek and Roman democracy, that of direct democracy and representative democracy.

The method by Jubilee of ruling like a tsar or emperor and that those who are not in government should only be heard occasionally, but most of the time keep their peace, is not good for cohesion. In true democracy, the opposite prevails.

We have been asking our supporters to adopt the spirit of citizenship and patriotism inculcated by President Julius Nyerere in Tanzania.

Bottom-line, we want them to know that we only have one nation and it should not be sacrificed at the altar of political competition. When we begin seeing ourselves as “us and them”, it is a recipe for chaos.

For instance, there is no good reason why Sudan should not have remained one country but when they began seeing themselves through ethnic and religious differences, anarchy set in. Same case for Somalia.

The term for IEBC commissioners expires shortly after the General Election. What practical proposals are your coalition offering Kenyans to ensure that the commissioners would have time not just to conduct elections but any eventualities such as court processes or a presidential run-off?

Somebody is keeping quiet on this to exploit it at an opportune time.

What happens in emerging democracies is that after the proclamation of a new Constitution, there is a need for review a year or two afterwards.

It is at such forums that issues like these would be addressed, and it is not different from the national dialogue Raila called for when he returned from the US in 2014. Such an undertaking needs a bipartisan approach.

The only way is to force the executive to the table to discuss this and find an agreeable way out.