Mudavadi should intensify efforts to resuscitate our dying democracy

Wednesday March 18 2020

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi addressing his supporters in Mbale town, Vihiga County, on June 10, 2019. He is filling the void left by ODM and Wiper party. PHOTO | COURTESY


There is a deficit at the heart of Kenya's parliamentary politics and democracy.

This has been occasioned by the abdication of the foremost responsibility, indeed raison d'etre, of a parliamentary opposition, which is diligent, rigorous and unrelenting oversight of government.

And while Kenya’s opposition should anchor oversight of government, it is my argument that the job description of any MP should be first and foremost oversight of government.

This should be with respect to use and management of resources; growth of the economy; the application of the law; national security, integrity and pride; and pursuit of social justice, opportunities, equality and inclusivity.


Who are the culprits? First is the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of consequential politico Raila Odinga. Next is the Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) of Kalonzo Musyoka.

The third is the governing Jubilee Party of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Last is the rapprochement between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta, previously implacable foes, in a deal sealed on March 9 last year.

That was just a week after Mr Odinga called the government a malevolent dictatorship. This détente has been hailed for ensuring post-election certainty and tranquillity which are good for governance and business.

But it serves to keep the government in the comfort zone, thus breeding complacency in government and despondency in the governed. And why?

Remember I mentioned last year that the contract between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga would wreak carnage on Kenya’s democracy and especially opposition politics.


This is because I had warned earlier about the diminished chances of an equally numerically enfeebled opposition to influence legislation or oversight of government, thanks to its failure at the 2017 General Election.

In sharp contrast from 2014 through 2016 Mr Odinga, though unelected, transformed himself into a one-person opposition, keeping the government honest, exposing mega corruption and the shenanigans of the secretive yet massive Euro bond loans.

Hamstrung by a President and Deputy arraigned on crimes against humanity charges in The Hague, government lived in mortal fear of a crusading Odinga.

And, even better, Baba inspired ODM lawmakers to call out government and hold it accountable.

The parliamentary opposition combined with Baba’s crusading encouraged activists and populace to spontaneously coalesce into the opposition out of Parliament.


As Kenya headed into the 2017 General Election, Baba and opposition led a people aware of and keen to smoke out and take on graft and practitioners of it in 2002 and 2003. That is as it should be.

But, alas, Kenya has not had a parliamentary opposition befitting the name and responsibility.

Mr Odinga dived into the duvet with the President and turned ODM and himself into accessories of the governing Jubilee Party and cheerleaders of government.

Next was Mr Kalonzo Musyoka. He was Mr Odinga’s running mate in the failed National Super Alliance (Nasa) 2017 run for the presidency. He was also co-principal in Nasa, an outfit that was created solely to seize executive power.

But abandoned in the cold by Mr Odinga and excluded from the Handshake high table, Mr Musyoka publicly and colourfully begged the President for a job.

Stooping to conquer, he said he was ready to be the presidential kanda ya moko (odd-jobs man).


No sooner had he got the special peace envoy’s job to war and famine -ravaged South Sudan, than he duly instructed his 19 Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) lawmakers to henceforth support and vote with the government.

It is the void left by ODM and WDM, and by especially Mr Odinga, that Mr Musalia Mudavadi, a Nasa co-principal, has been attempting to fill.

It is why last week he described himself as the face of the opposition.

And it is why previously he has asked President Kenyatta to progress the fight against corruption from handshakes to handcuffs.

He also recently decried government's frenzied borrowing and piling up of public debt (now nearing Sh5.5 trillion or US$56.1 billion) as economically unsustainable and injurious in the long term.


He has done well for a man whom Mr Odinga’s corner has famously described as better suited to the boardroom than the barricades.

That translates as: he plays gentleman where he should be kicking and screaming.

Importantly, Mr Mudavadi is not an MP and his Amani National Congress has only 12 lawmakers. They will have their say and then Jubilee, ODM and WDM will have their way.

And that's how to kill democracy. Oh, yes, choices have consequences. Step forward new leaders with new ideas.

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