I would urge all the law drafting agencies, MPs, the Attorney General, leaders of political parties and the Registrar of Political Parties to read Ndiritu Muriithi's article on democracy titled 'Why defecting members must seek fresh mandate' (Saturday Nation, May 6, 2023).
In our electoral jurisprudence, the voter is regarded as a key player in government creation, but his of her role diminishes immediately after the vote is cast. The elected representative has no need to consult with the voter whenever an important decision impacting the voter's life is to be made.
As the writer aptly puts it, the citizens vote for a particular political party because they believe that the platform promoted by that party during election campaigns will make their lives better. The candidates who are elected on a particular party's ticket are presumed to subscribe in every detail to the manifestos developed by their party and accepted by the party's supporters.
As such, if and when an individual MP finds that he or she can no longer identify with the policy or other issues upon which he or she was elected, the law should make it possible, nay, mandatory for such an MP to go back to the electorate and sell the new or perceived manifesto.
This means that an MP who no longer identifies with the manifesto of the party on whose ticket he or she was elected must resign in the first instance instead of dragging the people through the rigmarole of the courts of law, political parties' tribunals or the Registrar of Political Parties. The seat belongs to the people, not to an individual or an institution.
We noted an interesting scenario after the 2022 general elections when parties joined coalitions for the purpose of forming the next government. The two major coalitions, Kenya Kwanza and Azimio, each had a presidential candidate.
It is fair to assume that everyone who voted for Kenya Kwanza candidates also accepted the Presidential candidate William Ruto as the best future President. Likewise, those who voted for the Azimio Coalition candidates also wanted Raila Odinga to be the next President.
After elections, individual MPs and, in certain instances, whole political parties changed their allegiance and crossed over to the coalition that formed the government. It is here that the whole country became hostage to a myriad of laws and procedures that made the citizen, the voter, a helpless spectator.
Let us make simple and straightforward laws and procedures and take the interest of the voter into account. Let us just say that once you are not comfortable with the policies or issues of the party on whose ticket you went to Parliament or county assembly, you must seek a fresh mandate from the people. Then democracy will be seen to be of the essence.
Barrack Tunya, Kisumu