Of Building Bridges and the Slow Death of Opposition in Parliament

Posted by on 21st November 2018

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In a country like Kenya where those who form the government don’t get a convincing lead in terms of votes or it remains controversial; the views and interest of those who vote for opposition must be guarded. But what happens when the same opposition “joins government”?

There are genuine fears that the President’s handshake with the opposition leader Raila Odinga on March 9th effectively killed the opposition. Something the opposition led by the vocal ODM leaders continue to deny. Senate Minority leader James Orengo is on the record saying the handshake hasn’t affected the opposition’s ability to play their role.

NASA co-principals, Musalia Mudavadi has maintained the opposition is alive and well, even intimating that he was the true face of opposition in light of the handshake, yet he commands a very small number in Parliament; suffice to argue there’s no alternative voice beside the government’s going by the voting pattern on key motions.

If we thought the passing of the controversial Finance Bill, 2018 signaled the end of opposition going by the behavior of the House leadership that fateful day – both majority and Minority leaders engineered the quorum hitch. Then the appointment of Raila Odinga as the African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure and his Nasa Co-Principal Kalonzo Musyoka’s appointment by President Uhuru to head the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) on peace in South Sudan, served to confirm the death and burial of opposition in Kenya.

Indeed, even the other NASA co-principals, Moses Wetangula and Musalia Mudavadi are reportedly having meetings with aides of either President Uhuru or his Deputy William Ruto.

The sad bit about all this, is that while the opposition leader keeps talking about his March 9th handshake with the President at every opportunity and reassuring his support base that their interests are still taken care of; nobody besides him, the President and the 14member committee task force on the building bridges initiative knows what the outfit is all about.

Solid eight months have now passed since the President and his opposition counter-part buried the hatchet to give peace a chance, explaining that there’s a need to build institutions and deal with electoral violence among other key issues.

Of interest, is the fact that, it’s been nearly 6months since the 14-member task force on Building Bridges initiative was gazetted and mandated to, “outline the policy, administrative reform proposals, and implementation modalities for each identified challenge area; and conduct consultations with citizens, the faith-based sector, cultural leaders, the private sector and experts at both the county and national levels.”

Yet the public remains clueless about this outfit.

More importantly, what was the point in coming up with this taskforce, when the issues the President and the former Prime Minister both raised on the steps of Harambee House on March 9th have been extensively tackled in the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, 2008 by the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) and enacted shortly after the 2007/2008 Post-election violence (PEV)?

It’s through KLRC that the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) came to life. The report has been gathering dust more than four years since President Uhuru Kenyatta received it. So why side-step such a comprehensive report only to create another taskforce to drain taxpayer’s money when all the report needs has been goodwill (that is now available since the handshake) to implement it?

The National Commission and Integration Commission (NCIC) was also formed courtesy of the KLRC to deal with the same issues the President and the opposition leader claimed were destroying this country; particularly the evident lack of national integration or reconciliation. Wouldn’t it be prudent to take stock of what NCIC has been doing and decide whether to begin a process of shutting it down completely if it has failed or identify areas that need strengthening?

One only needs to see how reports by watchdog committees like the Senate PAC report on the controversial Ruaraka Land are getting derailed to confirm that the opposition is truly dead. As for the Building Bridges Initiative, it is nothing short of the useless commissions the long serving President Moi used to form to take people round in circles when there was a clear way forward.

If the President and the Rt.Hon. Raila Odinga’s handshake had the country in mind and not personal gain, they should disband the Building Bridges Initiative and implement TJRC as well as the contents of Agenda Four. Anything short of that is taking the voters for a ride – particularly opposition supporters.