Seven reasons why Kenya doesn’t need national dialogue leading to anarchy
Our politics is really interesting and we never have a dull moment. We would actually enjoy our politics save for the fact that our negative ethnicity politics sometimes run out of hand and cause nasty episodes like Mpeketoni, Wajir and elsewhere.
An important topic has been thrown on the table, a request for a national dialogue by Mr Raila Odinga. The word dialogue has attained a new meaning.
I decided to read more on the subject, courtesy of materials sent by a friend who has spent time boning up on the subject. Upon reading the material, I discovered some key points:
1. An inter-parties dialogue is best handled in Parliament. There must be very good reasons for seeking complementary spaces outside democratic institutions paid for by taxpayers like Parliament where dialogue happens as a matter of course. The Jubilee-Cord dialogue should happen in Parliament.
2. Dialogue is good during transition and post-conflict periods. For instance what we had in 2007/08 qualifies. Dialogue follows violent conflict (God forbid). Kenya is not in such circumstances. We concluded our peaceful election more than a year ago and the challenges we have can be handled by the government of the day.
3. In the event that dialogue is to be held, extensive preparations are required in a highly political and contentious process. We don’t need to get into this at the moment seeing that we have an economic agenda to pursue, coupled with continued implementation of our democratic Constitution, the best in Africa.
4. The agenda must be realistic and well communicated and there must be absolute transparency on the purpose of the dialogue. The objectives must be clear. To what end should we hold the dialogue?
There are some people who remain opposed to the new Constitution and its promises and principles and they would use this opportunity to change it, especially the electoral system. Mr Odinga and his running mate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, are the only ones outside the democratic institutions. The dialogue might be a ploy to try to get them back into the fold.
WHAT KIND OF DIALOGUE?
It is not easy to understand the purpose of the dialogue as most of what we needed to have in Kenya happened during the passage of the new Constitution.
Issues like security and cost of living are handled through many laws, policies and budgetary allocations, work done by the Executive and the Legislature.
Cord can very well table some policies, laws and other measures to bring down the cost of living or address security challenges as they have done through a censure motion against Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku.
5. The participants in the dialogue are another contentious matter. They must be scrutinised and picked through various models, including elections. The dialogue must include a cross-section of people including women and youth.
6. There are many types of dialogue: Sustained dialogue, reflective dialogue (an inquiry), generative dialogue, and democratic dialogue. Which dialogue is the Cord leader asking for? The type of dialogue determines the quality of the conversation.
7. The dichotomy of democratic dialogue vs democratic institutions is deep as dialogue would end at the democratic institutions anyway. As we have a National Assembly and a Senate, the Cord leaders have to take their place there and raise issues.
Cord leaders have sufficient space in the democratic institutions to raise issues. The Cord alliance has admitted it has not played its role of official opposition well. They need to start by internalising what it means to be a responsible opposition.
As an MP serving on the Jubilee side, I see many opportunities that Cord has to improve matters in Kenya. For instance, when they opposed the Nyumba Kumi security strategy, they should have offered an alternative. When they criticise the laptops project, they should offer an alternative approach.
Kenya does not need a national dialogue as proposed by the Cord leaders. It needs a government that is working hard to deliver on its election manifesto and a Cord side that keeps the government on its toes. All the leaders should be responsible, effective, hardworking and not corrupt.