According to a story appearing in the Nairobi Star Online, a new political “vehicle,” the Progressive Third Force (PTF), was launched yesterday in Nairobi ahead of next year’s general election apparently as an “umbrella party” which brings together “other ‘socialist democratic’ movements” which seeks to “wrestle power from ODM and PNU.”
Addressing media at the launch, LPK secretary for information Erick Matsanza said his party “will attend to unmet needs of Kenyans and offer desired form of leadership.”
“We are ready to constitute ourselves into a potent progressive third force political coalition order to wrest political control from the tribal elite through the ballot,” Matsanza said. He said that his party will field candidates across the country, in a bid to replace the tribal elite, which will in turn give salvation to the youth.
As I said in my blog The So-Called G47 or Third Force Should Support Existing Party; We Don’t Need Another New Party In Kenya, we actually don’t need another new party in Kenya therefore the formation of this Progressive Third Force, is all good and well and consistent with the letter and spirit of the new constitution but is nonetheless an exercise of negligible contribution other than whatever it may contribute as yet another watch-dog group.
I say so not lightly, but after considerable thought and reflection on this issue, going back several years ago during malti-partysm struggles when I took the position, yes, we needed to be a multi-party state but not an unlimited multi-party one.
I have never known and neither can anyone make a convincing case why we need hundreds of parties registered in the country.
As I have stated before, we should amend our constitution to limit to 3 or no more than five political parties in the country, otherwise we shall continue in this endless party registrations for all kinds of reasons, including undesirable ones I discuss below.
I noted in the blog noted above that the US is a de facto two party state and has done just fine over the centuries but someone came fuming with a long list of registered parties in the US but he missed my point: Yes, you can have all these registered parties but for what?
It’s naïve and simplistic thinking to argue just because our constitution allows freedom of association that therefore we should be free to register as many parties as people are willing to register.
This makes as much sense as saying just because it’s legal to have children, one should have as many children as he or she wishes.
China passed its one child policy to prevent further explosion of its population and agree or disagree with the policy, it has actually met its objectives, otherwise the country will be overflowing with people to everywhere.
Just as we must encourage birth control to prevent further explosion of our own population, so too must we discourage further registration of parties in Kenya to prevent the mischief behind registration of a number of them.
Let me quote at length what I said in my blog above to explain what I mean:
I repeat my position Kenya does not need more parties but strengthening of 2 or 3 of those we already have in existence and working within them to bring about the necessary changes both in the parties and the country as a whole through the political process.
I do not buy the propaganda that none of the parties we currently have in Kenya can produce an effective, reform driven president; a number of them have and can and neither do I buy the propaganda that all leaders in the country are not worth electing president.
I think we can all agree that our country has not met its development objectives and progress due to poor management, corruption and apathy for the general welfare of ordinary Kenyans.
I think we can all also agree in order to turn things around, we have to have new management at the top come next year’s elections.
Where I and others differ with those who claim that no current leader can be elected president to spearhead in efforts to turn the country around, is the incongruousness self-evident in this proposition.
Those making this claim that no current leader should be elected president have been and continue to make the preposterous case that we should get rid of everyone in government and bring in new people.
They also at times talk about getting rid of “old” people in government or that we don’t need “old” people running for president which they essentially define in such a manner to include Raila among the “old” people because he is in reality the only person they are obsessed to “blocking” from becoming president.
Their rationale for a solution makes no sense at all.
Essentially what they are saying from a business perspective is, you have a large company, say Safaricom that is poorly performing and not profitable at all because of poor management, rampant embezzlement, poor morale and shafting of shareholders.
As a solution to turn this company around and make it profitable again, you propose that you get rid of all management and bring in a new crop of senior managers, including a CEO who have never run a large company and further require that none of these new managers or CEO can be “old” which you essentially define to be anyone over 50 years old.
This is absurd and anyone who knows anything about business will tell you so.
Much as it makes no sense to rational and objective minds to propose such a solution, it can only make sense to those proposing it for reasons that have nothing to do with a genuine desire to turn the company around other than creating an easy pathway if not entry through the backdoor to senior management for themselves which in turn will surely sink the company even more than it has by the time they take over.
Prudent business advice or common sense would tell you what you need in a situation like this is, yes, a new CEO and senior management but one with proven success and experience running a company of this size; getting rid of poorly performing employees and managers, sending the embezzlers packing and off to jail and doing a top to bottom analysis of the company to identify ways to make it profitable again.
We need precisely the same solution if we are to turn out country around and point it in the direction of economic growth and prosperity, namely, electing a president with proven success and experience running a country; overhauling the entire government workforce and retraining or otherwise getting rid of non-performing civil servants and personnel, definitely taking head on and having heads rolling for those engaged in corruption and doing a top to bottom analysis of the country to determine, and implementing whatever else is needed to put the country on track to meet its development objectives as outlined under Vision 2030 and more.
ODM is the largest and best organized party in the country and in Raila, it has a proven leader who can be trusted to bring about the transformational changes no different than a new C.E.O. in the above hypothetical would do to a poorly performing company.
PNU is really not even a party in the traditional sense and is simply an instrument Kibaki used to get himself re-sworn as president and will for all practical purposes and intend disappear from the stage with Kibaki’s exit as president.
This PTF is thus beginning its maiden journey on the wrong premise of “wrestling power” from ODM and PNU when there is no PNU to speak of.
This then, raises an important question: Has this PTF been established for the reasons it claims, or is there more to it than it wishes the public to know?
Anecdotal evidence tends to point to the latter and to overcome this, PTF must answer or show a number of things:
First, a number of individuals known or said to be behind this PTF are students and beneficiaries of their association initially with KANU and later on both ODM and KANU.
Having fallen out with the powers that be in these parties (read Moi, Kibaki and Raila) in the various times they were so associated and for whatever reasons, they now wish to present themselves as “clean” outsiders with a different philosophy and outlook in life than the one held once well within the corridors of these power centers.
The cynicism in all of us demands a convincing explanation as to how theirs is now some newfound change in their attitude in thinking any different from that of these principles they are now doing a bad job trying to distance themselves from.
Indeed, those who know some of these individuals say they act no different than Moi when it comes to entertaining dissenting view points and that being the case, why should anyone believe they will be or any different from Moi in the unlikely event they ascend to the presidency?
The cynicism in some of us also demands a convincing explanation as to how this PTF is not a project of the very PNU they claim to “wrestle” power from?
Could a conceivable case not be made that this party is intended to “wrestle” power only from Raila, with the behind the scenes help from whatever remains of PNU in the spirit of “blocking” Raila from being elected as president? Or a project for those standing for the proposition, “Anyone But Raila?”
How can one fully analyze the true intentions of this group without inquiring and being satisfied the forces behind it have no ax to grind or otherwise some score to settle against Raila?
These are but genuine questions this group must be prepared to answer and in fact, do so convincingly, if it is to be taken seriously.
To dismiss them as anything other than, is to confirm the cynicism giving rise to the questions to begin with.
Second, the new party says it’s an “umbrella party” which brings together “other ‘socialist democratic’ movements.” What movements? How many movements do we need in Kenya? Have we not had enough movements to where we are now and is it not now in the interest of our country’s unity and progression to a true new Kenya to have only but one movement, namely, a movement from the dark past where suffrage was nothing but a joke to one where we elect a new government both at the national and county level that reflects the ideals of the new constitution?
Peeling this onion just a bit further, what political goals does this Third Force movement intend to achieve? How different are those from those reformists like Raila have been in the forefront fighting to attain for our country?
Is it political and institutional reforms? Is it government accountability and the ramping out or minimization of corruption? Is it ending impunity or at least minimizing it to the extent possible, given how entrenched it is? Is it finally finding effective means to eradicate poverty? Is it finally giving all Kenyans the opportunity to improve their standard of living? Is it finding ways to effectively share in the wealth from our vast resources? Is it any the myriad of things we know must be done as we try to bring our country at par with other recently developed countries consistent with the goals and objectives set forth in our Vision 2030 scheme?
If so, why do we need a new party to do this?
Again, as I have said above and have consistently argued and will continue to, I do not for a moment buy the propaganda that none of the existing parties are capable of meeting these goals and neither do I buy the propaganda that a proven leader like Raila cannot lead us in reaching and surpassing these goals and objectives.
To successfully “wrestle” power from ODM or other existing party, PTF must do more than shower us with lofty statements and pronouncements where lurking underneath is the traditional quest for power for the sake of power and more specifically, the party must clearly distinguish itself from the rest by telling us precisely how they wish to go about accomplishing that which they wish to and how different that is from what reformists like Raila have been doing for decades with marked progression in success to where we must head.
In other words, PTF cannot on the 80th minute of a game, come and tell the dominant team to leave the field so they can showcase their own talent; they may be skilled all they can be but the dominant team’s fans have their team they know and would rather stick with it than go with players they know not much about; they are better off convincing the fans of the weaker team to do so for they have nothing to loose, given they are already loosing but it would make no sense for this new team to ask that both teams already playing leave the field so that they can show case their talent.
They can but likely to empty stalls as the fans must leave with their teams, dominant or otherwise.
The point: PTF is better off joining the dominant team and help it coast to victory, or join the weaker team and help it emerge victorious in which case its contribution can be said to have actually made the difference.
Finally, but not least, PTF says, “We are aware that the elite have tribalized and privatized the state for their exclusive benefit.”
Let’s wait and see where and how this new party fields it’s candidates and how many of their candidate beat their opponents; if it’s across the nation and not along tribal lines, and if the party picks up seats across the nation and in every county, then I will be the very first one right here to congratulate them for accomplishing a feat no one thinks likely at this time in our history.
If, on the other hand, ODM remains strong as it is and replicates or improves its performance from 2007 and Raila is re-elected president, then I would hope PTF will help join all other Kenyans in helping him govern and lead us in finally bringing about the transformational changes we must have come 2012 and thereafter.
Peace, Love and Unity