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October 17, 2018

Hypocrisy will be NASA's undoing

Drink wine
Drink wine

The country is becoming a jungle devoid of self-esteem, whose occupation is a malady called inferiority complex. The sexy issue this week is fruitless debate on parallel efforts to form a government by NASA and Jubilee. Jubilee is under intense scrutiny as it prepares to make Cabinet appointments, and NASA on how they will pull off Raila Odinga’s swearing-in as President.

Jubilee claims legal legitimacy by virtue of the October 26 election in which President Uhuru Kenyatta essentially ran alone and was sworn “as by law established” by a visibly coy Judiciary. NASA claims legitimacy from ‘people’s power’ derived from ‘sovereignty of the people’ being exercised directly; confirmed by a 62 per cent debilitating boycott that ‘delegitimised’ Uhuru’s celebrated 98.8 per cent win of 38 per cent turnout.

I’ll sit this one out and focus on malignant NASA matters. NASA is a coalition and not a political party. Matters NASA require sensitive and delicate handling with the consent of partners. Whereas a political party affords gung-ho deceit, a coalition requires calculated consensus by deft diplomatic hands. The domineering and exclusive cabal typical of a political party is an organisational stranger in coalitions. You can say ‘take a walk’ in the former, but not in a coalition unless you’re suicidal.

Yet, the grumbling in the week over NASA’s sharing of positions in Parliament and EALA nominee shortlisting is a warning of a collision on political rocks unless greed and dirty tricks are tamed. ODM Coast MPs and ANC loudly protested being short-changed, discriminated against and excluded. ANC felt cheated when ODM donated an EALA seat to them together with an ODM applicant. The ANC fraternity felt ridiculed and didn’t hide its anger.

The common thread was party and NASA organs’ mandates were subverted by mandarins in Parliament to horse trade at the expense of key values that bind the coalition. In the cross hairs is ODM chairman John Mbadi’s role of the Piper calling the tune. To the ANC Parliamentary Group, Mbadi was contemptuous when arrogantly explaining how he got lists from some ANC MPs circumventing the ANC PG leadership. Worse, Mbadi and cohorts chose for ANC whom it should propose, invoking the ‘mole’ label, a popular way of offloading political competitors.

The fiasco has exposed yawning fault lines; a clique making decisions outside the structures of the coalition partners’ organs and agreement. The inept excuse that “principals have agreed” should never substitute for the freedom of partner party organs to make decisions. NASA cannot afford the personality cult inherent in Jubilee.

NASA must walk the talk when faulting Jubilee’s lack of inclusivity, equity and respect. These are dear values in the NASA Agreement that should depict the coalition’s finesse in consultative leadership. NASA would be lying to “uphold, guard and respect the dignity of all individuals and communities; return the country to the path of constitutional and democratic development; and end the culture of impunity” professed in its objectives, if it’s driven by the exact antonyms in its practices.

It’s hypocrisy to parrot that the coalition shall be governed by the values and principles of “democracy, Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law; human rights, dignity and freedom; equality and equity, inclusive governance; and transparent, accountable and accessible leadership” in Article 5 of the Agreement — if individuals’ mercenary appetites reign. NASA should be wary of those camouflaging their Jubilee links by categorising others as l ‘moles’.

Article 10 of the Agreement on power-sharing states, “inclusive, democratic and participatory governance; equality and equity, including affirmative action; and utmost good faith among the Coalition partners”. NASA partners govern 20 county executive and legislative branches. But has there been substantive ‘power-sharing’ in Executive appointments; Legislative offices; positions in the Legislatures the coalition is entitled to or eligible for? Isn’t it a display of bad faith when a partner refuses to reciprocate goodwill?

The wrangling in Parliament is a shot across the bow. The bottled displeasure in NASA should be released by abiding by basics of the Agreement if the coalition is to survive.



Communications, publications and conflict management specialist, University of Nairobi

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