Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kissing toads

Political parties make sense when they are established on clear principles, represent the interests of established constituencies, operate along clear rules, are supported by memberships that contribute money and other resources for the benefit of the members, operate transparently and are accountable to the members. 
 
If there's a Kenyan political party that makes sense, it hasn't presented itself to the people. Kenyan political parties, more often than not, represent the interests of "founder-members", have been captured by an elite few, don't espouse any clear principles other than the pablum rolled out for elections, are not supported by any known memberships and often operate along byzantine rules that are altered so often it is never clear any rules apply. But mostly, most operate in the shadows and their leaders are accountable to no one.

For these reasons, independent candidates were an inevitable consequence of the pre-election primaries conducted over the month of April 2017. Kenyan political parties ceased to have ideological characters some time after the Little General Election of 1969 when Kanuism enshrined its first principle: the president is the party; the party is the president. Little has changed in 48 years, never mind the doomed ideological renaissance of 1990/1991 when Kanuism was harried left and right by the Forum of the Restoration of Democracy, FORD, the last truly ideologically-driven mass movement in Kenya.

Many Kenyan politicians identify themselves with ideological markers: social-democrat, socialist, conservative, capitalist, and whatnot. But it in identity in name only. Almost all of them have succeeded in making politics almost exclusively about themselves, not their parties or their ideologies or their parties' ideologies. If you look at the Jubilation's hysteria over the broadsides against its economic policies by Dr David Ndii, it is marked by exhortations to ignore Dr Ndii because he is jealous of Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent president, and in thrall to the treasonous ideology of Raila Odinga, the doyen of the Opposition, without specifying what that treasonous ideology actually is. Suffice to say the Jubilation's propaganda is propagated by hatchet men with the subtlety of sledgehammers.

It is instructive, however, that both leading political alliances are composed of feckless and ideologically bereft politicians, two evils incapable of articulating in clear terms what they stand, each of which has engaged in chicanery that has pushed out otherwise "loyal" political aspirants into the cold of electoral independence. Neither alliance has a credible members' register, an accusation that has been levelled at the electoral commission, and this gaping hole was been filled, during the "primaries", with busloads of "outsiders" -- a situation likely to prevail in August if the electoral commission doesn't get its act together.

I will repeat what I said on Twitter: between good an evil, there is no moral choice to be made; one must always choose good over evil. A moral choice is between two evils -- one must choose the lesser evil of the two. None of our political parties and the politicians who use them are good. To one extent or another, they are all evil. Our choice as voters is to choose the least evil from among them. Among those are the victims of political party chicanery facing the bracingly cold winds of independent status at the hustings. Whatever happens, we must not deceive ourselves that there are ideologicaly-driven, mass-membership, rule-of-the-law politicians or political parties to choose from. We are fairy-tale princesses about to kiss a whole lot of toads. Pucker up!

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