Credibility Deficit Denies NASA NARC’s Audacity & Hope
Nasa, or the united opposition effort, can claim many things but never “yote yawezekana bila Jubilee”. It is this bold promise which Narc made in 2002 and rode to power without sounding deceitful when they incredibly claimed “yote yawezekana bila Moi” that rode them to power. In as much as Narc’s ranks were anchored by old Kanu networks, the new verve and reincarnation of its stalwarts with which they confronted former President Moi gave them the audacity to make the promise of a Canaan to a public that felt enslaved. The public today is free and not as gullible.
Fifteen years later, Kenya isn’t as desolate as it was back then, it’s not the Egypt from which bondage is required, and meaningful progress is afoot. Everyone in the opposition Nasa today has had a stint in government and most of all exposed their incredibility through the numerous scandals and broken promises they have made especially to each other.
Nasa can bash Jubilee but they can’t claim better; reason why their campaign is built around smearing jubilee rather than offering any meaningful alternatives. It is easier for a cynical public to believe Jubilee’s ills than it is for them to believe Nasa’s promise. Almost every Kenyan, even in opposition strongholds, is also skeptical that the united opposition promise will hold. This low trust threshold built on an integrity and credibility deficit is denying the opposition the platform on which they could sweep the country into frenzy.
If this history of scandal has undermined a credible alternative from the opposition, it is the broken promises opposition leaders have made to each other that have completely denied them a sense of public trust. Political promises came to us through the infamous Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the Narc regime. We came to realize that political promises mean nothing and our view of them completely went down the sewers. Come 2007 and the pentagon deal under Raila was made but never publicized as an MOU. As the grand coalition government was on its way, Raila would soon lose each of his men in the pentagon on the back of unmet promises. To this day, none of the original pentagon members is allied to him. The 2013 Cord MOU is already in troubled waters as Kalonzo and Wetangula claim its specific performance while Raila claims it was frustrated by events. It is obvious to the public that betrayal is afoot.
The new Nasa MOU is to the public another promise that isn’t worth the paper it is signed on. Already in troubled waters with uncertainty about the political destination of Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetangula, this prevarication undermines the credibility of every promise the opposition speaks. Since Bomas, the contrasting statements that have come from the supposed Nasa members do not help the cause of an opposition promise. It is even in contention whether Bomas was the launch of a united opposition under Nasa or just a rally by opposition politicians.
On the other hand is the Jubilee pact and promise. The coalition between the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu is a good study in political cooperation between tribes and individuals. The Kalenjin and Kikuyu have little good to say about each other. The nature of their cooperation is however anchored in a trust that has been honoured for four years, an astounding achievement in Kenya’s political development. The early bromance between Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto has given way to a partnership that one feels they can take to the bank.
Save for the NYS scandal where there was mischief to wreck the Jubilee partnership which never took root but rather saw the cooperation endure and is now strengthening itself to face another election together. It is a study in political cooperation built around mutual suspicion, common fears and power sharing. That two communities that would have otherwise been constantly at war with each other have chosen cooperation, peace and progress through leaders committed to a power plan has astounded analysts.
As we approach the election, based on the trust threshold between the competing parties, it is most likely that it is Jubilee should it feel the need to, that will bring on board a new partner in a community and a leader. It will be easier for the Jubilee duo to hoist their functional partnership as an example to another community as testament that deals will be kept. In the opposition however, the sheer lack of trust among its leading lights in keeping promises has completely undermined even its public trust. Integrity in the management of public coffers is important but the integrity to honour political arrangements it seems is equally important. On this basis, Nasa is wounded and bleeding.