Safina, fringe parties in PNU a plus for Kibaki’s re-election
Published on December 2, 2007, 12:00 am
By Abdulahi Ahmednassir
Mr George Nyamweya needlessly triggered an implosion within the Party of National Unity last week.
Nyamweya unilaterally, and without any prodding or jurisdictional competence whatsoever, declared that 18 parties, which are among the founding members of PNU, and headed by Safina party, are, for all intent and purposes, enemy combatants.
Nyamweya’s outburst has brought to the surface a bubbling discontent within the ranks of PNU and blew the lid wide open on the hitherto well kept secret of a ferocious and fratricidal elbowing within the coalition for influence and supremacy.
The crisis triggered by Nyamweya could have a far-reaching impact on Kibaki’s re-election campaign if the same is not addressed prudently, urgently and at the highest political level.
It has the net effect of ensuring that large numbers of voters who support these small parties like Safina and especially outside Central Province could easily reconsider their loyalty to the re-election of the President and turn into free agents.
Nyamweya’s statement was a cocktail of prejudice, political ill will and gamble that summarises the theme of his news-making event.
It clearly showed that Kibaki’s campaign machine is not yet the well-oiled and mean machine it should have been by now.
Although Kibaki has personally waged a flawless and a remarkably effective campaign that has surprised his foes and friends alike, the same, as aptly shown by the unfortunate statement, cannot be said of the functionaries that run his presidential bid.
The conceptual framework that informs Nyamweya’s statement was due to realisation, on the part of DP, Kanu and Narc-Kenya that the best way to derail the momentum Safina is gaining in Central Province is to paint it in bad light.
This, unfortunately for them, seems not to wash with the electorate and the record of the candidates running on Safina speaks much louder.
More importantly, and to the chagrin of the anti-Safina coalition is that Safina has consistently maintained its unwavering and strong support for Kibaki’s re-election bid.
Nyamweya’s statement was a coded signal in the race to succeed Kibaki and a public elbowing of certain politicians who do not find favour with some of Kibaki’s handlers who have their sight on 2012.
Pretenders to the throne
It was a premature shot across the bow designed to send the strongest signal possible to all pretenders to the throne in Central Province that the post Kibaki succession programme will be managed as an integral component of his re-election bid.
Nyamweya does not appreciate the political realities and is insensitive to the weight of these small but pivotal parties. His statement is informed by the need to give certain individuals and parties like Kanu, and Narc-Kenya a head start in Kibaki’s next Government and even in the post- Kibaki political dispensation. The importance of these parties must be appreciated and appropriately contextualised.
The strength of the candidates representing these parties in some constituencies is real and enormous.
In regions outside Central Province, the importance of these parties assumes even greater significance.
The PNU rage is primarily informed by the fact that some of the candidates that had secured the nomination face a strong challenge, which it hopes to deflate by holding to the tail coat of the President.
One must not lose sight of the number of parties supporting Safina’s positions. They are 18 with more than 900 parliamentary candidates running in 210 constituencies. They will contribute enormously to the presidential vote strictly on a quid pro quo basis, and if rebuffed could easily switch the presidential vote to another candidate. Having Safina and the small parties within the coalition is a huge plus for Kibaki’s re-election bid.
Nyamweya’s view is difficult to rationalise. If his argument is that Safina did not participated in the joint nomination, the simple answer is that Safina has all along, maintained its right to field parliamentary and civic candidates. If on the other hand Nyamweya’s argument is that Safina has become the preferred abode for candidates who lost in the joint party nominations, the answer is even much simpler.
Parties like DP, Kanu, and Narc-Kenya are in a worse position, for they originally participated in the joint nomination and in addition did all that Safina is being accused of.
In trying to settle petty political scores peculiar to the politics of Central Province, and needlessly alienating Safina and parties that support Kibaki’s re-election bid in the process, they are turning away an important constituency.
The President’s handlers must overlook their personal dislike and obsession with Safina, stop wondering at the resilience and its current resurgence and keep their eyes on the bigger picture.
Safina and others must be recognised as such.
The writer (email@example.com) is a lawyer and former Law Society of Kenya chairman.