Friday, October 27, 2006

The Third Political Force Should be Founded on Anti-Corruption Alliance

As the race in the next general election 2007 appears will be a two horse fight between Narc-Kenya and ODM-Kenya, the call for a third political force has intesified. Unfortunately, the shape and form of such a force is not clear yet. Its leadership is also not obvious. Musikari Kombo and Charity Ngilu have been speaking loudly about a third force but I don't think they have what it takes to lead a formidable third force. They are part and parcel of the current crop of politicians who have let Kenyans down . There is therefore a sense of urgency for the formation of a third political force in Kenya to safeguard people's interests and democracy. The two mainstream parties, Narc-Kenya and ODM-Kenya, as they are currently composed, can only perpetuate Narcism and Kanuism.

In the current political landscape, there isn't a clearly organised third political force. But that said, it does not mean that it does not exist. There are many Kenyans who think that the current political elite has betrayed the expectations of Kenyan people, through their corrupt ways and unhealthy political competition and confrontation. As such, they have not been working for the interest of the nation and its people and they are there only to advance their political and parochial agendas.

If present democratic and developmental achievements are to move to the next level, the current political elite should not shepherd that process. The infighting witnessed in Narc, which was entrusted with Kenyan's hope, is evidence of the inherent contradictions facing this group of leaders. ODM-Kenya is now positioning itself to reap from Narc's contradictions just as Narc benefited from Kanu's political mistakes. But in reality handing leadership to ODM-Kenya would mean recycling Kanu back. It is this awareness that makes the need for a third force urgent.

The challenge facing realisation of a third force is that of organisation. The third force exists but it is not organised. Professor Makau Mutua has given pointers to the sectors where the third force can be found. The problem is that these people are there as individuals. To become a formidable force, they need to be organised. Recently, a political party Chama Cha Mwananchi (CCM) was registered and little has been heard of them since. For me, their vision has all the trappings of a third force and goes to confirm the existence of this force.

A third political force should be organised around a dear aspiration of the people of Kenya. Today, the people enjoy a measure of democracy, human rights, social and economic development. They are enjoying these within the current political dispensation. In that case, a third force has to promise something bigger in order to capture the imiginations and hearts of the people. They have to promise higher level of democracy, human rights, social and economic development but also something the others cannot deliver - "a corruption free Kenya". As such, the third force should be formed on anti-corruption alliance.

Promising a corruption free society is not saying that elect us first and then we shall fight corruption. That is what the current Narc regime promised but has failed to deliver. Promising a corrupt free society is saying elect us because we are not corrupt. It is saying don't elect corrupt leaders. It is locking-out the corrupt from any elective and public office. The battle is not a future duel, it is a now war. It is war to be fought and won during the general election. It is only through anti-corruption clarion, that the current corrupt Narc and former Kanu politician can be sent packing out of political and public arena. The people of Kenya should not entrust this task to the government and courts again. It is their task and it should be completed during the election.

The third force has to realise that the only weapon it has is a clean record. They should use it in full against corrupt Narc-Kenya, ODM-Kenya and other politicians. These politicians have to be shown the anti-corruption "red card". They have to be sent out of the political and public service arena.

The next question to ask is whether the third force needs its own political party. Two options may be open here. First option may be to establish their own political party. The second choice is to operate within the existing parties but sponsor their own third force candidates during the general election. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of the first option is that the third force will have its own identity. They will be the owners of their political party. They will be visible. The disadvantage is whether the people are ready to change loyalty from the already established parties to a new political outfit. Again, it would be important to question whether there is enough time to popularise a new political party before the elections.

The disadvantages with the second option is that the third force will not have a clear identity from the other parties. They will not be the "owners" of the political parties they operate within. The advantage, on the other hand, is that they will not be asking the people to change loyalties from the current political parties to a new one. Instead the message will be, we are sailing in the same boat, but let us get rid of the bad and corrupt elements.

I think the second option would be the best at the moment. The creation of a third force political party may antagonise the electorate. Operating within the existing mainstream parties will not present the electorate with a dilemma of changing parties and will introduce the anti-corruption agenda in the parties. It will be offering electorates a criterion for choosing leaders. The third force will present their candidates for election to compete a longside the mainstream party candidates. The third force task will therefore be to popularise their candidates among the electorate. In that case, the third force will be offering their candidates for election both where Narc-Kenya is strong and also where ODM-Kenya is popular.

Using the above strategy, the third force may end up having the largest number of elected members in the parliament and civic seats. It will be well represented both in the parties that form the government and in the opposition. The third force could therefore have high influence in the politics, government and policies of the day.

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