POLITICAL PARTIES

Moi restored parties but they remain weak

In Summary
  • President Moi formally banned political parties in 1982 but then allowed the return of multi-parties in 1991.
  • The Westminster system with an executive PM chosen by Parliament encourages parties based on ideology to emerge.
Moi opens a women's hostel at Kabarak University
Moi opens a women's hostel at Kabarak University

Political parties were banned in 1982 although they had been unofficially outlawed since the 1960s. Then in 1991, President Moi allowed the country to return to multiparty rule.

The track record of parties since Independence has been patchy. Only Kanu has effectively contested more than one election. Political parties are created to contest elections and then tend to lapse into a zombie state where they are neither dead nor alive.

Moi himself was partly responsible, at least during his presidency. A multiplicity of parties, some funded by himself, allowed the master of politics to divide and rule.

 

But as the BBI report pointed out, Kenya needs political parties based on ideology rather than vehicles for ethnic arithmetic.

Both Jubilee and ODM have made some progress in this direction but their future is unclear.

One argument for the Westminster system with an executive prime minister chosen by Parliament is that it will encourage political parties based on ideology to emerge. When the system is not winner-takes-all, voters may discover shared interests with other regions. In such a system, parties may have longer and healthier lives.

Quote of the day: "Extreme inequality is no temporary blip. It is hard-wired into our economies."

Winnie Byanyima
The Ugandan UNAIDS executive director was born on January 13, 1959.