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January 18, 2019

As party leader, Raila can show how to manage affairs differently

CORD Leader Raila Odinga
CORD Leader Raila Odinga

I can understand the frustration of Mr Odinga and his supporters.

One election clearly stolen, the next one probably, too, because those figures never made sense, but everyone sat transfixed ‘keeping the peace’. And now another situation in which there appears to be a lack of clarity how the official figures came to be.

Before David Ndii revived his discussion of secession this week, a point that he had already made last year in his column, I had thought along similar lines. I get intense frustration, and the desire to set off to do one’s own thing if a genuine co-operation is not possible.

But I don’t expect a formal breakup of Kenya. Nobody does. Over the past few decades, if a separation happened, it was a drawn out and bloody process, and, internationally, there is typically not much support for it. Nor do I think the majority in Kenya really want this.

But then again, it is not necessary either. Because the 2010 Constitution has actually handed us some leeway, some halfway secession in the name of devolution – incidentally something intensely championed by Mr Odinga.

Devolution may not give him the satisfaction of running a country, but in principle, it would give his party the ability to show on county level how much better they would be at running things, at delivering on the issues that they had promised to voters.

Except as we have seen, that has not really happened. ODM/Cord governors were hardly distinguished figures in the fight against corruption.

I had this debate with one of Mr Odinga’s team members. That even if Mr Odinga himself were serious about fighting corruption, I have not seen much of an actual track record in this respect on county level (before you start gloating: nor have Jubilee and associated ‘vehicles’ shown particular competence in this area). ‘But what can he do?’ my counterpart asked.

Well, precisely: if he cannot to anything, then how would that be different as president? And yes, this is the same issue that Mr Kenyatta has faced, and will continue to face.

I’d like Mr Odinga to grab this opportunity as a party leader and show us how things could be managed differently, especially because of the continued political fragmentation driven by the proliferation of parties and now also of independent candidates.

Both mean that there is even less pressure or incentive for politicians to coalesce around issues in the stable structure of a well governed party rather than flitting between vehicles with the lifetime of a fruit fly.

So how about building a party, and providing some proper governance?




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