By Lukoye Atwoli
Sunday Nation 09 December 2012
Last week we witnessed a spectacle that would be funny were it not for the implications it has on Kenya’s future. Beginning
two days to the deadline imposed by the Political Parties Act on the
formation of pre-election coalitions, and continuing up to the deadline
itself, politicians outdid themselves in the art of crafting alliances.
those two days, some of the politicians had held talks with dozens of
“like-minded” colleagues, most of whom they had previously sworn never
to talk to even if they were left alone in the same room. Many
took only a few hours to move from one end of the political spectrum to
the other, seeking assurances on their own political futures.
from soaring rhetoric, none of the coalitions have indicated the
reasons why they came together, and what they intend to achieve once
they win power. We are only being bombarded with platitudes full of
empty promises of peace and prosperity. To the objective observer,
it seems clear that even without stripping away the thin veneer of
pseudo-ideological differences, these coalitions are actually agreements
between individuals keen on capturing and retaining power.
tragedy is that they are presenting themselves as representatives of
political parties, and even worse, of their own ethnic groups. This way,
it is becoming easy for the voters to tie the personal fortunes of
these coalition-builders with their own individual fates, and those of
their tribes. The result is utterly predictable. After the 2013
General Election, one “coalition” will win the election, and the others
Due to the non-ideological emotions being whipped up as
the politicians seek coalitions, it is foreseeable that the losing
group will raise complaints about the legitimacy of the election. No
matter how genuine the complaints will be, supporters of the group will
gang up and attempt to stage protests, some of them turning violent. It
is possible that the coalescing tribes will think to punish the ethnic
“others”, either before or after the elections, by forcefully evicting
them from “their territories”, Kenyan code for ethnic cleansing.
the above scenario sounds familiar, it should be! This is exactly what
happened five years ago, with politicians coming together to win and
retain power and, in the process, representing themselves as tribal
king-pins who could not lose in a fair contest. The result was an
election in which victory was claimed by all sides and the rest, as they
say, is history.
Perhaps it may do Kenyans well to remind them
that the two main “coalitions” presented to the registrar of political
parties are not new, and can be traced back 10 or more years ago. The
main protagonists in one group were the face of Kanu in the 2002
General Election that was won by Narc. The second group comprises the
key members of the victorious Rainbow Coalition, only missing the then
presidential candidate, President Mwai Kibaki.
It is my contention
that the average Kenyan does not seem to learn from adversity and that,
unless something drastic happens, we are due to repeat history in a
very tragic manner. Obviously the coalitions being crafted
represent the mindset of the average Kenyan, a mindset that has rigged
the country onto a one-way track to oblivion.
I hope I am wrong, but I fear I am not.
Lukoye Atwoli is the secretary, Kenya Psychiatric Association, and a
senior lecturer at the Moi University’s school of medicine
firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter @LukoyeAtwoli