DEMOCRACY

Parties must not be sausage machines

There appears to be a well-choreographed scheme to emasculate the National Assembly and the Senate

In Summary

• It appears we are stuck in a rut, living in a distant past when Norwegian playwright and satirist Henrik Ibsen bemoaned lack of democracy within parties of his times.

• In his evergreen play An Enemy of the People Ibsen says thus of the political party: A party is like a sausage machine, it grinds up all sorts of heads together into the same baloney.

President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Jubilee Party's National Delegates Conference in May.
President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Jubilee Party's National Delegates Conference in May.
Image: FILE

“The greatest want of the world is the want of men — men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right, though the heavens fall,” American author and Seventh Day Adventist Church co-founder Ellen White observed.

That our political arena has been suffering scarcity of good and committed leadership as envisaged by White is hardly an exaggeration.

A largely unprincipled, greedy and malleable assembly of cannibals has been the bane of our regional and national governance. However, the Senate’s rejection of the formula proposed by the Commission for Revenue Allocation (also supported by President Uhuru Kenyatta) and the subsequent protracted debate revealed a silver lining on the very dark cloud of our political organisation.

That a significant number of senators broke ranks with their party leadership and took diametrically opposing positions on the issue is commendable.  The clarity with which the opposing sides debated their positions goes along way to demonstrate that when they mean business, our parliamentarians can actually deliver better. That they can stand up and stand out to be counted for living up to their job — legislation and oversight.

However, the tendency by some party leaders to bludgeon MPs into wholesome imbibing and acceptance of particular predetermined ‘party positions’ over national importance issues is simply unbecoming.

There appears to be a well-choreographed scheme to emasculate the National Assembly and the Senate, to turn elected leaders into robots and marionettes only doing the bidding of their puppeteer masters.

No less a man than Senate Majority whip Irungu Kang’ata appeared on national TV and warned Jubilee senators who voted against ‘the government formula’ of fire and brimstone in the not-too-distant future. All this coming just a couple of weeks after a brigade of senators and MPs deemed sympathetic to Deputy President William Ruto and obviously opposed to the BBI were ignominiously dewhipped and dethroned from their plush committee leadership positions in the august House.

Many MPs with stellar record of performance in Parliament were humiliated and embarrassed in that you-toe-the-line or we tangle-your-tail campaign by the ruling party hawk-eyed apparatchiks, hangers-on and cheerleaders such as David Murathe and Cotu boss Francis Atwoli.

The perception that Senate ‘sanitised’ Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru at the behest of leading party chiefs  after her impeachment by the county assembly county assembly is still gnawing at our national conscience.

Are our political parties fast growing into the new nests of dictatorship? In a true democracy, are parties not the most critical unit of liberalism, consensus building, inclusion and tolerance?

It appears we are stuck in a rut, living in a distant past when Norwegian playwright and satirist Henrik Ibsen bemoaned lack of democracy within parties of his times.

In his evergreen play An Enemy of the People Ibsen says thus of the political party: A party is like a sausage machine, it grinds up all sorts of heads together into the same baloney.

Perhaps, ODM director of elections and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed summarised it all when on the floor of the House, he lectured Jubilee Party’s perceived renegades on the need to be good ‘cows’ when relating with the real owners of the party that sponsored them to Parliament.

High school teacher at Chemelil Sugar Academy and a freelance journalist