Giant Opposition for Giant Cabinet

Raging debate over the formation of a giant opposition in Kenya’s parliament to check the giant cabinet is likely to boil over in coming months.

A group of Members of Parliament (MPs) from President Mwai Kibaki’s PNU party, Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s ODM-K want to form a giant opposition. They say that since every major party is in the giant coalition, an opposition force is necessary to, “put checks and balances and to guard against mega scandals of the Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing types.”

The MPs are those that were not appointed to the cabinet, leaving many to doubt the sincerity of their stance.

Prime Minister Odinga is against the formation of a giant opposition. He has urged those intending to form an opposition to join other political parties. Under Kenyan electoral law, an MP who leaves the party that got him elected to parliament must face an election in his/her constituency. This law is likely to discourage many of those calling for an opposition. With only six months after the General Elections, there is little appetite for fresh polls.

President Kibaki has said little either for or against a giant opposition.

The group of MPs is led by Abwabu Namwamba and Isaac Ruto both of ODM. Other leading proponents of a giant opposition include Kiema Kilonzo (ODM-K) and Cyrus Jirongo (KADDU). Mr Jirongo has expressed interest in being leader of the official opposition since, unlike Namwamba, his party is not part of the giant coalition. However, he is the sole MP on the KADDU party!

Many of the MPs fronting for the giant opposition wanted to be appointed as cabinet ministers. They felt they had spent a lot of time and money campaigning for their parties and a cabinet would have been the highest reward. However, with a giant cabinet of 40, there was no more room for them.

The giant cabinet also consists of old-timers in Kenyan politics, many of whom have solid power bases and connections to the wealthy corporate class. In contrast, the group of MPs calling for an opposition is made up of mostly youthful MPs who owe their success to the old-timers.

There are rumors that the proponents of a giant opposition are acting at the behest of political figures within the giant cabinet. This, it is said, is to create a fall back position in case the giant cabinet crumbles. Such rumors are credible since many of those calling for a giant opposition owe their prominence to political godfathers.

Besides, someone like Isaac Ruto, who served ex-President Daniel arap Moi until the very end, can hardly boast of any opposition credentials.

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One Response

  1. There is freedom of association in our country and anybody who tries in any way to smother freedom of association is nothing but an unmitigated idiot!

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