One would have thought that the best strategy for any politician in the 10th parliament who does not get a cabinet position, would be to position themselves in the opposition in readiness for the next general elections which many people believe will be held in 2 years time.
After all going by what has happened in the past, the government always manages to get unpopular sooner or later presenting a “through pass” to any carefully positioned opposition candidate to easily get re-elected into the august house.
But alas, Kenyan politics always has its’ bizarre twists. It is now becoming clearly evident that hardly anybody in the 10th parliament wants to be in the opposition. Virtually all PNU affiliate parties are saying that they are included in the grand coalition and are therefore in government. The same with ODM affiliate parties. And what complicates matters further is that both PNU and ODM are working very hard behind scenes to ensure that they have a parliamentary majority in the house (just in case).
What that means is that contrary to what we are being told, there will hardly be any opposition in the 10th parliament unless something changes drastically. The “opposition” task it seems will be left to the press and the rising power of blogs like Kumekucha but that is hardly the same thing as having a strong opposition in the house.
Forget about the back bench because when all the numbers are in government a back bencher in say ODM or even PNU is of no consequence.
Those who understand Kenyan politics well are fully aware of the reason why there is this mad scramble for government as if there were no political tomorrow. It is simply because most MPs need to recover the cash they spent in the last elections and make a huge profit while thye are at it. The opposition or the back benches is hardly the place to do this. Secondly in the past MPs have been able to make good money in a situation where there is an opposition that threatens to be stronger than government in terms of numbers in the house. This is exactly what the situation was during the hotly contested election for the speaker. However the situation has now been dramatically altered because of the grand coalition between ODM and PNU which means that opportunities to receive hefty bribes to vote one way or the other have been wiped out. What all this does it to leave one prize and one prize alone—being in government.
However what most of the politicians in the 10th parliament have forgotten is that the same “razor” that shaved most of their opponents who missed to return to parliament will be waiting again to shave them barely 2 years from now. The Kenyan public is getting very impatient with their politicians and it seems that most legislators have failed to read the writing on the wall.
Then there is the likelihood that the new constitution which will be passed by parliament will sideline many politicians from “eating” positions. For instance there is a high likelihood that if the Bomas draft is adopted, there will no longer be ministerial or cabinet appointments for MPs. In short the noose is slowly tightening on the unsuspecting and terribly short-sighted legislators in the 10th parliament.
Another interesting development is the gathering storm within ODM over one of the two soon-to-be-created Deputy Prime Minister’s seats. Interestingly the PNU side (which is expected to produce one of the two Deputy Prime Ministers) is also deeply embroiled in a serious struggle for the seat amongst its’ ranks and the names of Uhuru Kenyatta, Martha Karua and George Saitoti have been voiced within the PNU camp as possibles. Even more interesting is a report in a local daily that there was a meeting yesterday at a city hotel attended by Amos Kimunya, Martha Karua and Uhuru Kenyatta to strategize on how one of them can secure the Deputy PM post. But the storm in ODM is huge in comparison to whatever may be brewing in the PNU camp and if it is not handled skillfully could prove to be divisive at a critical time. Rift Valley supporters of the party are of the view that they made the largest sacrifice in fighting for the new political dispensation. The feeling is that they therefore deserve the deputy Prime Minister’s seat much more than Western province where votes were almost split and ODM supporters allowed too much encroachment by PNU. However Ruto’s appointment to the Deputy premiership will deeply disappoint the Luhya community who are holding on to their belief that their man Musalia Mudavadi will be Raila’s anointed heir. It’s a tough call but all factor’s considered, if I were Raila I would appoint William Ruto (don’t want to mess around with the unpredictable Kalenjin at this time) and then retain Mudavadi as “deputy captain” of the party.
There is of course the remote possibility that the problem will be solved for Raila if the 50/50 agreement is enforced which means that the Vice president has to come from ODM and that post would go to Musalia Mudavadi. Incidentally Mudavadi is one character that PNU would be happy to work with.