Close

DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL

Jubilee quitting competitive process in a democratic ecosystem is self-defeating

Reducing political competition to a negotiation between personalities suffocates democracy.

In Summary

• What was announced by the Jubilee Party SG Raphael Tuju contradicts two forms of democratic practice namely; Submission to Elections and Citizenry Participation.

• As long political institutions exist, they should forever evaluate their competitive advantages and capitalise on them, while giving voters a set of competing for alternative policy standpoints.

Deputy President William Ruto with Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju and other leaders at the party headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi County on September 23, 2020.
Deputy President William Ruto with Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju and other leaders at the party headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi County on September 23, 2020.
Image: DPPS

Jubilee Party quitting a Competitive Process in a democratic ecosystem is self-defeating.

The withdrawal of the Jubilee Party party from the Msambweni Constituency by-election caught me by surprise.

I never thought it would ever happen, that the largest democratic institution of our time in Kenya can pull out of a political contest for tenuous reasons, like the ones they gave.

Deputy Party Leader William Ruto was right when he said," The party should have embraced democracy"...they should have listened to him.

Competitive Politics

Political Competition, in the sense that political parties will always present candidates as alternatives to others, shall forever exist as long as democracy is alive.

But what was announced by the Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju contradicts two forms of democratic practice namely; Submission to Elections and Citizenry Participation, thus making the importance of having different options in an election and Citizenry autonomy to be masters of their destiny seem irrelevant.

It's a fact, that reducing a political competition to a negotiation between personalities who constitute only a minority in the party, suffocates democracy and it's dividends.

As long political institutions exist, they should forever evaluate their competitive advantages and capitalise on them, while giving voters a set of competing for alternative policy standpoints.

Let the People Decide

Kenneth Matiba, a democrat and statesman per excellence wished Kenya a vibrant democracy where political parties are not constrained, when he said, "Let the People Decide".

It must be obvious that the people ought to be presented an opportunity and be allowed to participate in investing the power to govern on leaders of their own choice through the political platforms they subscribe to.

It should therefore have been outright that the Jubilee party allows it's members in Msambweni Constituency to affirm the ideologies the party stand for by voting their preferred option.

And with the new nature of political alignments in the Coast, it's not convincing to argue that it was an Orange Democratic Movement stronghold.

True to it, the voters voters in the constituency were quoted as saying they were ready to bank their future on a Candidate under the Jubilee Party manifesto.

Moreover, It was their will to have different options within the Chamber of party politics.

Political parties should not allow cultures where elections are decided on a phone or over a cup of tea by a minority, as elections are the tenets of democracy that matter most to the people.

Role of political parties

Different Political parties offering different ideologies are very necessary as linkage institutions available to the public.

They become relevant in an election when they give candidates an opportunity to contest in nominations, then offer choices to the electorate, in a sharp contrast to their opposing counterparts.

If their candidate is elected, they get an opportunity to influence Public policy, implement policies and further a manifesto based agenda.

It's self-defeating that the Jubilee party can quit such an important process such an election, when it's primary objective is to capture the power and manage the affairs of the people.

My conscience fails to buy the idea that by avoiding a political contest in Msambweni, the opposition will be disarmed to never oppose government, in any case it was not a pre-condition of the Uhuru-Raila Truce, that they shelve competitive at the expense of their majority party membership.

Kariuki Ngunjiri is a Political and Policy Analyst.