Why Nasa agenda is just about power

Thursday February 16 2017

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi (right) with other opposition leaders (from left) Nick Salat, Moses Wetang'ula, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka at the unveiling of the National Super Alliance at Bomas of Kenya on January 11, 2017. PHOTO | DENIS KAVISU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi (right) with other opposition leaders (from left) Nick Salat, Moses Wetang'ula, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka at the unveiling of the National Super Alliance at Bomas of Kenya on January 11, 2017. PHOTO | DENIS KAVISU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By AMBROSE WEDA
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An alternative government must, of necessity, have an alternative agenda to that of the government of the day.

It should sell a competing vision of how the country should be governed. In other words, any opposition worth its name should at all times, through a coherent narrative, articulate what it would do differently were it to be in power.

So, if the National Super Alliance (Nasa) wants to supplant the Jubilee administration, then it follows that it is legitimate for Kenyans to expect, nay demand, an alternative vision of the country’s governance architecture.

We are six months away from the General Election, and yet any discerning potential voter will be struggling to decipher what the nascent opposition alliance is bringing to the table.

Economist and Nation columnist David Ndii, who appears to be one of the key advisers to the opposition, has argued that any alternative, just any, is better than the Jubilee administration.

The opposition appears only keen to recreate the magical moment of 2002 that saw Mr Mwai Kibaki sweep to power through the euphoric wave of a united opposition after Mr Raila Odinga declared “Kibaki tosha” at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.

JUBILEE FATIGUE

For this to happen, then the circumstances today must mirror those of 2002, but do they? First, 15 years ago, the country was suffering from a heavy bout of Moi fatigue. Many felt then that voting for Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kanu candidate, would just be an extension of the 24 years of Daniel arap Moi’s rule.

One question the opposition leaders should ask themselves is whether the perceived Jubilee fatigue is real or imagined. Secondly, it is true that Mr Odinga’s hand in declaring “Kibaki tosha” changed the course of the election in 2002, but it also mattered that it was Mr Kibaki who was the opposition candidate and not any other person.

A Makerere-trained economist and former Finance minister, Mr Kibaki had the solid credentials of a policy wonk with a clear vision of what he wanted to do with power. His plan to implement free primary education had been crafted way before he became the joint opposition presidential candidate under National Alliance Rainbow Coalition (Narc).

Thirdly, and perhaps most important, Kenyans must remember the infighting and the vicious backstabbing that occurred during the Kibaki years as a result of having a motley of politicians who did not necessarily share a common vision come together because they wanted political power.

It is an experience that Kenya can ill afford for another five years. So let us turn back to Nasa. What is the agenda of Mr Odinga, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr Moses Wetang’ula? Their agenda is premised more on critiquing Jubilee than offering an alternative. Pointing out actual and perceived negatives without offering solutions or hope. Or could this simply be a case of “it is our time to eat”?

TACKLED GRAFT

If it is fighting corruption one would expect the four leaders under Nasa to tell us how they tackled graft in the past and how they would do it in government.

Their collective life in government runs into decades. Are they willing to denounce their associates and financiers suspected to be key drivers of the graft and narcotics cartels?

Jubilee may be beholden to the same or similar cartels. But here we are talking about an outfit positioning itself as alternative government. So if Jubilee is so inept, as Nasa leaders claim, can they demonstrate how they would be different? It is not being said that Jubilee is perfect. There are a few rotten eggs.

There have been some mistakes, too. But major milestones have been achieved in the few Jubilee years. Criticise the SGR but from May 2017, it will be a positive phenomenon in Kenya to be bequeathed to generations to come.

Condemn electricity connectivity but what has been achieved in four years surpasses what was done in the last 40 years. So what does Nasa stand for? It is time to shift from ethnopropaganda-oiled politics to policy diversity.

Mr Weda is a lawyer in private practice in Nairobi. [email protected]