VICTOR BWIRE: Media can support Political Parties on strength of their policies

Once media makes such a decision, they are likely to suffer from harassment.

In Summary

•Kenya has over 60 registered political parties, which many times built their membership base through credible processes but as has been seen in the recent information on party membership, many use dubious ways to certify the registration requirements.

•And the mentioned, proposed, and existing political coalitions ahead of the 2022 general election would add to the apparent scanty information on political processes that we witness, that on a few occasions influence our association with them apart from our liking for the leaders/owners of the parties.

 

Case for supporting political parties
Case for supporting political parties
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

The other day, we were listed as belonging to various political parties either by commission or omission, some of which receive public funding. From the varied reactions, it was evident that we do not have sufficient information on political parties in the country.

And the mentioned, proposed, and existing political coalitions ahead of the 2022 general election would add to the apparent scanty information on political processes that we witness, that on a few occasions influence our association with them apart from our liking for the leaders/owners of the parties.

Away from the impunity, personalisation of political processes in the country and the apparent scratching of the face approach by the media on political parties, it would be a big waste of opportunity and time if we talk of any serious pre, election and post-election activities, without combined effort by those in the civic space to seek for accountability and access to information relating to the running, management, and election related issues by political parties.

Its possible and professional for the media to support political parties or independent politicians on the account of their policies, programmes and thinking. While given our peoples intolerance and vindictive nature, once media makes such a decision like supporting pro country policies and politicians with similar thinking, they are likely to suffer from harassment and threats to boycott their products; its time that such approach is attempted in Kenya. Pro people policies and political thinking on issues such as education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, security, foreign relations, climate change, industrial growth, and trade, that can improve the living conditions of Kenyans should be supported without fear or favour.

The media and civil society players must not only talk but make deliberate and professional interventions to educate Kenyans on what our political parties stand for and related processes. The focus should be to help in the re organization, structuring and building of political parties as governance institutions, that are the engines of the democratization process in the country. Media can for example support any political party that espouses policies and programmes that are seen to be good for the country, away from the personality coverage we see most often. Given our usual similar manifestos we see from our parties, can this be possible?

We need to invest heavily in strengthening our political parties, to avoid the confusion we always see during the party primaries before general elections in Kenya, if we hope to entrench democracy in our political system. We have since seen many parties close shop immediately after elections, and even in areas where independents or small parties did well during the elections, they have been swallowed up or are easily influenced to vote to support the dominant voices. As always, the win-take-it all approach has seen many of promising or parties or individual politicians get swallowed up along the way or the complete destruction of such alternative voices even without radically different ideologies, which would have made our national and county assemblies a bit active and interesting.

Political parties play a fundamental role in democracy and governance, and we must put pressure to have them strengthened and shaped to serve the interests of their members and the good of the nation. We must continue to work towards demanding accountability from the leadership of these parties and seeking information that enables us remain relevant to the governance issues in the county and at the county level- which requires that as stakeholders in public interest, media and civil society participates by way for watching them thus assist political parties to develop policies, strategies and ideologies that are clearly discernible and distinct to assist citizens make decisions that shape their lives during elections. Instead of parties cutting and pasting manifestos of each other, its important that are made to do more to elaborate on how they will achieve the promises they make all through.

Kenya has over 60 registered political parties, which many times built their membership base through credible processes but as has been seen in the recent information on party membership, many use dubious ways to certify the registration requirements. While the national level assemblies have some pockets of lone voices in terms of mature alternative views or putting government on check, the county assemblies have nothing in terms of alternative voices at all. While its people’s democratic choice to associate by way of political parties, we have so many brief case entities in the name of political parties that have even made the use of funds under the Political Parties Act impossible. So many squabbles and court cases to allow full utilization of the funds, yet the parties need the funds to carry out activities.