Mkenya Party To Watch In Kangema
Last weekend I was a guest at the Mkenya Solidarity Movement rally in Kangema, Muranga where I got to meet the party’s senior officials: chairman Watson Simiyu, vice chairman Suleiman Mraja, secretary general Joyce Mwabingu, organising secretary Peter Njoroge and national youth leader John Abok.
The first order of business was the introduction of John Gathogo, their candidate for the Kangema by-election due next month. My first observation was that this candidate is different from the rest. He is young (early 30s) and clearly has no resources of his own for this election, so he will depend entirely on the party for support and resources to run his campaign. However, he has some amazing ideas of what he can do for Kangema as MP.
As I sat there I marvelled at the power of Kenya’s new constitution. Here is a man with no material means being sponsored by a political party that has openly associated with former members of a proscribed group to run for a seat formerly held by a man who had used extreme prejudice to eradicate members of the said group. The late minister must have been turning in his grave!
The next observation was when the national party leadership lined up on the dais and strongly denounced their leader GG Kariuki. It seems that earlier in the day as the party officials were busy opening party offices in Kangema and Kiriani towns, Mr Kariuki, who was not present, had allegedly told the press that Mkenya Solidarity Movement was part of Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA party!
The party leadership present in Muranga decided to use the rally to clarify that the party leader had no capacity to make such comments and categorically stated that Mkenya Solidarity Movement is an independent party that intends to participate in every election henceforth, at all levels. Again I could not help but notice the irony, as well as appreciate the power of our new constitution.
Here were these leaders, with very low national profiles, standing up in front of a crowd of more than 8,000 people to tell off a nationally recognised former minister for daring to “think for them”. The only reason they were able to do this was because they are recognised as leaders of a legally registered political party by our laws. So the new constitution not only allows parties like Mkenya to field a candidate in a former powerful Internal Security minister’s constituency, it also lets them use such a platform to tell off another former powerful Internal Security minister for trying to interfere with a party he leads!
However, a few words of advice for the Mkenya's officials. The party, in my opinion, represents hope for a specific group of Kenyans especially from Rift Valley, Central and Coast provinces, who have deliberately been isolated from mainstream national development. They can now organise politically and bring their issues to the national arena. It gives young men and women like Gathogo a platform to ‘dare’ against the ‘owners of regions’.
Mkenya must keep this in focus in whatever political engagements it enters with other political players. They must be careful not to sell out their party for short-term gain, because a whole section of Kenya’s population is looking at them for direction. They must, therefore, negotiate only with those who will consider the party as an independent political establishment with the right to field candidates wherever they want in Kenya, in all elections.
As for those who accuse them of working with former suspected criminals, Mkenya must insist that the justice card applies across the board for all Kenyans. If individuals confirmed to have crimes against humanity cases can hold national positions and run for the highest office in the land using the argument that they are innocent until they exhaust all avenues for defence, then so are their members. Mkenya could even go a step further on this argument and use its new-found political platform to pursue justice for victims of extra-judicial killings over the years. They can demand that any police officer who has been involved in such killings should be charged with murder for killing Kenyans without allowing them the right to exhaust the entire appeal process available to more powerful and richer Kenyans, for worse crimes.
Mkenya should make the by-election a referendum between two groups of Kangema voters; those who supported Michuki’s shoot-to-kill actions against his own people in his constituency, and those who lost sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and friends to ‘coffins being buried every week’, never to see them prosecuted in a court of law and thus getting closure on whether such loss was justified.