Calls for Coast-based party must not be personal

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Senate in session. Photo/PD/FILE

The push for a new Coast-based political party received an unexpected boost following the fallout from the Senate debate on the proposed revenue sharing formula.

Chief among grievances driving the new push is the apparent half-hearted approach by ODM to support retention of current funding levels in the marginal counties.

While the primary purpose of the political party is representation, enduring organisations are driven by certain ideals beyond merely acting as a convenient vehicle.

Our experience with Coast-based political parties so far has shown none has captured the imagination of voters beyond one electoral cycle.

Perhaps the only exception is the independence movement around the Kenya African Democratic Union fronted by Ronald Ngala, Daniel arap Moi and Masinde Muliro.

Although the party folded immediately after independence, its luminaries went on to influence politics for decades with Muliro and Ngala doing so from the peace of their graves long after they were dead.

It is instructive to note that enduring goals are driven by ideas and ideologies that transcend a given region, era or personalities.

Therefore, formation of a coastal party should not be driven by one quarrel about resources but rather should be informed by need to reform and transform certain aspects of the national fabric.

The idea behind the party should not be limited to giving a voice to coastal leaders to bargain for a seat or seats on the high table.

In the past, leaders elected on small party tickets have ended up as pawns in manœuvres of large political coalitions.

Small parties, lacking any distinct ideological identity end up swaying this way or that way as the main ones bid for power.

Consequently, they have not been an effective platform for regional issues. They have ended up as vehicles for individual ambition leaving desires of the rank and file unmet.

Therefore, the idea behind the Coast-based party must rise beyond the Coast and project into the national psyche, matching needs of key segments of our nation with a purpose-filled leadership vetted for the job.

This essentially calls for abandonment of such a party to be replaced with a search for a new concensus around which our national characteristics will be set.

Are we marginalised because of lack of voices at the national level or because of lack of clearly defined goals and priorities hence we end up voting for wrong quality of leaders?

Are we marginalised because the national ethos have been eroded by twin evils of corruption and tribalism such that every generation of leaders ends up stricken by one or both of these?

Perhaps it is possible to listen to voices from other parts of the country and merge our aspirations with these especially where they agree with the notion that no one and no child shall be left behind which seems to be the clarion call sweeping across marginal areas and among the poor found in what are deceptively called ‘high potential’ areas but are riven with deep inequalities that drive some people to look for opportunities in the backwaters of Coast, Rift Valley, Eastern and the former Northern Frontier District.

It is such a broad-based party with a clear vision for the nation that can deliver on the expectations of the people of Coast and others caught up in the quagmire that is Kenyan politics. — The writer is the Deputy Governor of Mombasa county

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