You have failed!
That was the stinging verdict by a special team of experts that assessed the Cord Coalition and its leaders since the March 4 General Election.
In a report given to Cord principals Raila Odinga and Moses Wetang’ula, the experts said that leaders, including Cord governors, MPs, senators and county representatives had become selfish and abandoned their constituents.
The report was presented at Mr Wetangula’s home on September 16 during a parliamentary group meeting.
The technical team told senators and MPs from the coalition that they had performed dismally, both inside and outside Parliament.
For Cord to wage a serious campaign against the Jubilee Coalition of President Uhuru Kenyatta, it was advised that the coalition embarks on an aggressive registration of voters in its strongholds to counter the TNA-URP “tyranny of numbers”.
“The next major political contest started when the polls closed on March 4, so you decide to sleep and you lose it,” said the experts.
“The coalition must embark on an ambitious mobilisation of supporters to register as voters well in advance. It should not wait for pre-election registration campaigns.”
During the meeting, some MPs are said to have demanded the removal of Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo and ODM Chief Whip Gideon Mung’aro for alleged lacklustre performance in Parliament.
The appraisal report seen by the Sunday Nation highlighted the gaps in the Cord and proposed mechanisms of revamping the coalition, which has been out-matched in Parliament by their dominant Jubilee opponents.
“A review of the positions of Cord leaders, particularly MPs in both Houses of Parliament and in the County Assemblies, shows that Cord has performed poorly on the front of its ideology,” read the report.
An MP who attended the meeting says Mr Odinga was shocked when a senior member sought education on the meaning of “social democracy”, the coalition’s ideological leaning.
The report also singles out Cord governors and members of county assemblies for tainting the coalition’s reputation through luxury spending at the expense of development programmes.
Equally, alliance leaders perceived to work closely with the Jubilee government “for the sake of development” were reprimanded over concerns that their activities could send the wrong signals to supporters and split the coalition.
“With the current constitutional provisions for public resource allocation for development in the counties and constituencies, the use of proximity to the Executive to enable “development for our people” has no place in the Kenya we want to build,” said the report which singled out the Makueni by-election as one of Cord’s major victories.
Mr Simekha JME, a governance and institutional development consultant, thinks the coalition leadership has taken way too long to realise the crucial role it has as the official opposition.
“We do not have an opposition that is ready to present a different narrative on the ICC question. We have Jubilee managing to drag the entire country through the muck of the inconvenience of two individuals; and even though the ICC question is indeed important to Kenya and Kenyans, the script that has been sold by Jubilee as Cord watched is the wrong one,” he told Sunday Nation.
According to Mr Simekha, there is lack of “confluence of ideological thinking and ideas” between the top leadership of Cord and the rank and file.
“The problem seems to be the Cord leadership inside Parliament. The coalition leaders seem not to have reckoned with their role as yet. Outside Parliament the Cord leadership seems to have an agenda but it is not seeping to their troops,” Mr Simekha argues.
Recently, rebellion within the coalition has been witnessed with some members even showing willingness to accompany Deputy President William Ruto to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to attend trials emanating from the post-election violence of 2007/08.
The report further says: “There were too many discordant voices, some even disgruntled, on various issues of national importance. Some of the MPs’ utterances were outright against the principles of social democracy.”
MPs, in both Senate and the National Assembly, are also accused of sleeping on the job.
“We haven’t taken advantage of our Constitution’s prescription of progressive laws for its full implementation. Cord should champion development and enactment of some of these laws besides whatever else it prioritises,” the report says.
ALSO AT FAULT
The only outstanding compliment the technocrats point to is the fact that the three coalition leaders, including Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, have stuck together even after losing the last elections to the Jubilee alliance.
The coalition chiefs in the National Assembly, Francis Nyenze (Wiper) and his deputy Jakoyo Midiwo (ODM), are also at fault. They have failed in promoting inter- and intra-party consultation, which is not helping the alliance in adopting a common position on matters affecting the country. It has also led to a scenario where leaders read from different scripts.
“Cord looks very weak on the common strategy on national and international issues that are considered a priority and worthy of the coalition’s attention. Sometimes the coalition’s leadership has seemed to go public with a position on an issue before exhaustive internal discussions and information sharing on the same within the coalition,” it says.
To rescue the otherwise sinking ship, the report recommends a number of issues which Cord should hastily implement.
“The coalition has been catering to a shrinking target group of voters. It needs to start thinking “outside-in” – who or what kind of voters do we need in order to win? The coalition should chase the right voters, not the competition,” it recommends.
One area that the director of the School of Strategic Studies at the Maseno University Prof Fredrick Wanyama feels cost the alliance some votes in the last election is the manner it deals with its strongholds especially during party primaries.
LISTEN TO BASE
“Cord must get conscious: It should not take its support base for granted. There must be a process of constantly listening to their views and wishes. They must feel appreciated and their decisions made through democratic means must be respected. Most importantly, core support bases must be safeguarded lest they open up to their opponents.”
The experts comprising university dons, policy makers, economists and lawyers warn Cord members and principals in particular that there would be no time for excuses. They must act now.
In a political system of cut-throat competition like Kenya’s, other parties and alliances will be watching how Cord rebrands in preparation for the next General Election so they also position themselves accordingly.