What you need to know:
- Erstwhile vocal opposition politicians no longer raise questions when things are going wrong.
- In recent times, voting in Parliament is masterminded from outside the House.
Since President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga entered truce and shook hands in March 2018, politics has never been the same.
The strongest positive result of the handshake was that it ended vicious political fights which, at a certain point, threatened to tear the country down the middle. An era of constructive consultation emerged, which is good for national development.
However, the handshake has also spawned unintended outcomes. Opposition has been muted and there is a steady slide towards dictatorship. Erstwhile vocal opposition politicians no longer raise questions when things are going wrong. Some of them behave as if they are part of the government.
The ongoing debate in the Senate on county revenue share provides the latest exemplification of shrinking democratic space. Until last week, there had been an orchestrated campaign to whip Senators to vote along the thinking of President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, with threats issued against those who held contrary views. Into this was added the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) narrative; that opposing the formula amounted to forsaking the goals of the amity.
In recent times, voting in Parliament is masterminded from outside the House. When, for example, the Kieleweke faction of Jubilee Party that revolves around President Kenyatta wanted to topple MPs from the Tangatanga wing allied to Deputy President William Ruto from various parliamentary leadership positions, opposition MPs were whipped to play ball.
The zeal with which opposition MPs have been acting in support of the Executive is unsettling.
Increasingly, the public is getting alarmed that both the Senate and the National Assembly can no longer debate issues freely and candidly guided by national interest.
At this point when the country is at a crossroads and like other nations afflicted with Covid-19, leaders have to stand up and speak for and in the interest of citizens.
We need independent thinking. Parliamentary debates and public discourse should be constructive, inquisitorial, engaging and non-linear if we are to create robust and democratic society.