Kenya: NASA collapse casts doubt on alliances between political parties
The official death of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) following the withdrawal of four of its main constituent parties has raised questions about the stability and lifespan of coalitions in the country and has placed emphasis on future building alliances.
The ODM, ANC, Wiper Party and Ford-Kenya have announced their withdrawal from the dysfunctional coalition, characterized by mistrust, ego and political infidelity disrupting future alliances. The other NASA member was Isaac Ruto’s Chama cha Mashinani.
NASA’s troubles mirror those that rocked the Rainbow Coalition Nation (Narc), which ended Kanu’s decades of rule in 2002 only to collapse soon after due to President Mwai Kibaki’s failure to honor the pre-electoral memorandum of understanding on power. share.
Just weeks after his electoral victory, the PLD wing of the Narc accused President Kibaki and his supporters of reneging on an agreement on the composition of the Cabinet, which has broadened to include pacts on the revision of the Constitution.
Both also signify the dangers of pre-election alliances: where parties don’t put all their cards on the table and then start pulling in different directions after the election.
Unlike 2002 where there was no law to guide the formation of coalitions and therefore the infamous memorandum of understanding was widely regarded as a gentleman’s agreement, there is now the law on political parties which regulates the formation of political parties. coalitions but the same challenges that Narc faced after the 2002 elections are the same as Nasa.
“We are a country of very good laws but with a people, especially leaders who do not obey the law. In addition, there is a misconception that politics should not be played honestly when making deals. Because of this lack of honesty, agreements will always be broken, ”says political scientist Dr Richard Bosire.
For Mulle Musau, national coordinator of the Election Observation Group, the biggest problem is that coalitions are most often based on personalities and not on structured engagement. Thus, party leaders negotiate their positions, which then breeds mistrust.
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“If you’ve managed the institutional side of political parties in Kenya, you can manage the commitments that come with it, including coalition building. Parties must first institutionalize themselves and defend something, and not enter into a coalition just to gain political power and convenience, ”he said.
Coalitions of political parties have emerged as vehicles for garnering sufficient voice in a country where politics is largely ethnically based. Since 2002, political leaders who represent various ethnic groups have come together to forge alliances in order to obtain as many voices from as many ethnic groups.
Ahead of the 2022 election, alliance-building talks began: even before stepping down from NASA, ANC Wiper and Ford-Kenya discussed under the umbrella of the One Kenya Alliance (OKA). The independence party Kanu also met with the leaders of the OKA, although their commitment has always been questioned. Kanu also made a post-election deal with Jubilee.
Breach of trust
ODM and Jubilee have announced that they are in talks to tackle the 2022 election as a single team. Vice-President William Ruto, on the other hand, avoided building a traditional coalition. He has encouraged a number of his allies from different regions to form smaller parties, all of which support him and his UDA outfit.
Yet these are still threatened by the mistrust and dishonesty that sank those who came before them.
“Going forward, coalitions will grow strong when they are properly grounded in the need to be true to what you have subscribed to. This is how you build trust in coalitions. Unless you combine it. Ditch on what’s called trust, we’re going to end up in the same situation. What do you think is the cause of the problems Jubilee is having internally between the president and his deputy? It’s a breach of trust. What do you think were the challenges for NASA? Breach of trust. The foundation is still trust. These are the fundamental problems and as long as this deficit is not properly filled, the coalitions will still have problems, “said Musalia Mudavadi, leader of the ANC party, in a recent interview with the Sunday Nation.
Distrust and dishonesty, says Dr Bosire, saw the death of Narc’s dream after being overwhelmingly elected in 2002 and put the country on a perilous journey that led to the post-election violence of 2007/8 .
“Whether there was a law or not, there was no justification for President Kibaki to reject the MoU and mistreat the other party that actually allowed him to win. It is a matter of political infidelity that politicians cannot promise something and stick to it. The same thing happened at NASA. They think politics is above the law. It’s a misconception of what politics is, ”Dr Bosire said.