We do not need another grand coalition government!
Posted Saturday, May 5 2012 at 19:52
- Democracy: We need to affirm the need for voters to give a clear mandate to those who should govern them
A couple of weeks ago, a minister casually floated a suggestion to his colleagues on the margins of a Cabinet meeting that the Cabinet should initiate legislation for a grand coalition government after the next election.
Since then, he and a few of his colleagues have fleshed out the proposal and appear to be taking the matter seriously.
They are arguing that the transition to a new constitutional order is only beginning; that this non-partisan effort needs all hands on board.
They are saying that national healing is incomplete, hence we need inclusion to reduce polarisation.
On the face of it, this may sound reasonable to some. But it is an idea that should be rejected before it grows root. We are at the base camp in our climb to a new constitutional dispensation. This calls for a recognisable government with a singular purpose in giving life to the new law.
This, more than anything else, requires a government that speaks with one voice and can be held to account for its actions.
Secondly, national healing may still be incomplete. The fact that a government of national unity has been unequal to this task shows that what it takes is an inclusive agenda and an authority to be called to account rather than the assumption that if every village is represented in government, then all will preach peace.
My third reason for rejecting this thinking is the sense of how to grow a democracy. For sometime now, Kenyans have been given the impression that we can compete but there should be no losers.
I have argued before that a win-win situation is possible when mutual benefit is placed ahead of individual gain. But this argument should never be used to subvert the key principle of democratic competition.
We enter contests to determine which set of players will take charge of public affairs. Not as a ritual to precede bloated government with all key protagonists.
A democracy cannot take root if we do not accept that there will be winners and losers. Our democratic experiment cannot live permanently in a greenhouse with artificial reward for all parties to a contest.
But the most fundamental reasons why we must abhor a grand coalition government is the conduct of the current coalition. Ostensibly, the most important benefit of coalition is control of Parliament. That government business easily sails through the House.
Kenya’s experience is a first. We have the only government of national unity anywhere in the world without a majority in Parliament. The principals of government have no control over their backbench.
We have all watched the absurd situation where ministers denigrate the very government they serve in the most petulant way simply because their bats are aimed at the portfolios held by the other party in the coalition.
We all remember a minister describing her flag as a mere piece of cloth for helping her jump the traffic queue. Ministers have lectured us about the government in which they serve being the home of impunity.
Confidential government information has been made available obviously from very high levels to groups fighting ministers who have fallen out with one side of government.