A strong opposition can end this impunity

By: RAPHAEL OBONYO

A culture of impunity has slowly evolved in this country in the recent past. Cases of corruption and hate speech are reported every day.

Kenyans are faced by the threat of economic collapse, court orders are disobeyed, yet the Jubilee administration continues to give the country’s progress a clean bill of health.

With only two years to the General Election and the Opposition apparently unable to hold the government to account, the current trend is worrying.

One of the most serious and disturbing weaknesses in our political process today is lack of an institutionalised and focused opposition group that can take on the government over its excesses.

Although the opposition parties have been vocal in criticising the government, they have done this in a sporadic and inconsistent manner.

The Opposition has not presented itself as a government in waiting by offering policy alternatives.

Despite the Jubilee administration’s hostility to civil society, the civic groups should be applauded for their recent attempts to make the government accountable.

Both the Opposition and civil society should work closely to transform this country.

And history offers them vital lessons.

The two players were able to complement each other well during the clamour for change during the Moi era.

Political parties are good mobilisers and civil society can serve as non-partisan players and a legitimate voice of reason.

COMPROMISED ROLES

The key institutions created by the Constitution to allow seamless governance are not working as they should.

Parliament’s oversight role has been compromised, as have the roles of the Executive and the Judiciary.

This should offer some reflection to politicians and citizens to open a national debate on how we intend to move forward.

It is clear that the country lacks strong charismatic leaders to chart this debate.

It was different in the late 1990s, when the clergy and civil society leaders were able to force Mr Moi to make concessions that have progressively brought Kenya to where it is today.

It took great effort on the part of human rights defenders, governance organisations, and religious groups to force the regime to finally embrace comprehensive constitutional reform.

The politics that has evolved since that victory has instead divided the country, denying Kenyans the opportunity to engage in constructive debate or even create room for the emergence of new players to guide the process.

Religious leaders are no longer seen as a neutral players who worked closely to rescue the country from collapse.

The Opposition and civil society must change tack on how they engage the government.

The past three years have not given us the expected results.

For the sake of the nation, these players must reform themselves, put their house in order, and democratise, to allow new players with fresh ideas.

A strong Opposition can force the government to listen and think of the possibility that the 2017 elections might not be a sure win.

This might allow issue-based politics to thrive in Kenya and prevent voter apathy.