- The idea behind the party should not be limited to giving a voice to coastal leaders to help bargain for a seat or seats on the high table.
- In the past, leaders elected on small party tickets have ended up as pawns in the manoeuvres of large political coalitions.
The push for a new Coast-based political party received an unexpected boost with the fallout over the Senate debate on the revenue sharing formula. Chief among the grievances driving the new push is the apparent half-hearted approach by ODM to support the retention of current funding to marginalised counties.
While the primary purpose of the political party is representation, enduring organisations are driven by certain ideals beyond merely acting as a convenient vehicle. Our experience with Coast-based political parties so far has shown none has captured the imagination of the voters beyond one electoral cycle.
Perhaps the only exception is the Independence movement around the Kenya African Democratic Union fronted by Ronald Ngala, Daniel arap Moi and Masinde Muliro. Although the party folded immediately after Independence, its luminaries went on to influence politics for decades, with Masinde Muliro and Ngala wa Vidzo doing so from the peace of their graves long after they were dead.
It is instructive to note that enduring goals are driven by ideas and ideologies that transcend a given region, era or the personalities involved. Therefore, formation of a coastal party should not be driven by one quarrel over resources but rather should be informed by the need to reform and transform certain aspects of the national fabric. The idea behind the party should not be limited to giving a voice to coastal leaders to help bargain for a seat or seats on the high table.
In the past, leaders elected on small party tickets have ended up as pawns in the manoeuvres of large political coalitions. The small political parties, lacking any distinct ideological identity, end up swaying this way or that way as the main parties bid for power. Consequently, they have not been an effective platform for advocating regional issues. They have ended up being vehicles for individual ambition, leaving the desires of the rank and file unmet.
Therefore, the idea behind a Coast-based party must rise beyond the region and project into the national psyche matching the needs of key segments with a purpose-filled leadership vetted for the job. This essentially calls for abandonment of a Coast-based party to be replaced with a search for a new con-census around which our national characteristics will be set.
Are we marginalised because of lack of voices at the national level or because of lack of clearly defined goals and priorities, hence, we end up voting for the wrong quality of leaders? Are we marginalised because the national ethos have been eroded by the twin evils of corruption and tribalism such that every generation of leaders ends up stricken by one or both?
Perhaps it is possible to listen to voices from other parts of the country and merge our aspirations with these, especially where they agree with the notion that no one and no child shall be left behind. This seems to be the clarion call sweeping across the marginal areas and among the poor found in what are deceptively called ‘high potential’ areas but are riven with deep inequalities.
These inequalities have driven some people to look for opportunities in the backwaters of Coast, Rift Valley, Eastern and the former Northern Frontier District.
It is such a broad-based party with a clear vision for the nation that can deliver on the expectations of the people of Coast and others caught up in the quagmire that is Kenyan politics.