December 18th 2017

Business / Economy

NASA's talk of plebiscite at this tricky economic times quite unpalatable

However, Jubilee will have gotten the much-desired political lifeline, if the seemingly “disorganized” NASA focuses on “how to share power and its spoils,” and talks of referendum which many Kenyans consider as an affair that costs an arm and a leg.

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 21 May 2017 16:09 EAT

A shift in the system of governance from presidential to parliamentary is now the basis of our national discourse. The National Super Alliance whose torchbearer is Raila Odinga has begun to propose the concept of supplanting the current presidential system of governance with the parliamentary one.

This idea has attracted mixed reactions from diverse quarters. The Jubilee wing has, as predicted, poured frosty water on and fiercely castigated the NASA concept, terming it as a clever ploy to “feed the power-hungry” opposition bigwigs, something that drew the miffed opposition legislators’ swingeing rage and anger.

If my retentive memory still serves me right, I can say the former premier has been fervently championing for the idea of breaking away from the clutches of presidential system and espouses a parliamentary system as practiced in many liberal democracies such Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and The Netherlands. A move that I am certain won’t go down well with the ruling coalition, Jubilee.

Well, to achieve this change of system of governance, a referendum is a must. It simply means the opposition should be comprehensively and thoroughly prepared to stage a highly spirited crusade for the change to be realized. Kenyans are grappling with tough socio-economic situations; conditions which the chattering class deems as “escapable” and politically motivated.

It is clear the prices of basic commodities such as sugar, maize flour and milk have sky rocketed. Food is now a luxury to many. To many families, tea with sugar is got once in a blue moon. Drinking milk has of late remained the preserve of the well-heeled.

In a food-famished and milk-thirsty population, I don’t think it is wise and sagacious for serious political actors worth their salt to sell the idea of changing the system of governance [obviously through referendum] at a time when the economic situation is biting. Anything to do with addressing the nibbling issue of high cost of living only can arrest the attention of the Kenyan populace.

Am not saying the NASA’S proposed system of governance is bad nor is it beyond the realms of impossibility to attain. All am opining is-the timing is poor. In fact, the opposition should read the prevailing political times with surgical accuracy. Like what I heard recently of someone talk of “food revolution.”

Yes, matters security of the tummy is critical, to the nth degree. Any government that is deficient of proper strategies for cushioning its citizens against susceptibility to starvation, the pains of high cost of living, and obscene rates of inflation and other signals of tough economic times is doomed to come a cropper. It’ll be resoundingly unpopular among its people. It sets the stage possible revolution. Self-immolation could best describe such a kind of administration.

I feel the idea of creating more lucrative cabinet positions with a view to accommodate all the NASA co-principals and “radically” shifting the system of governance from presidential one that’s currently in force to the proposed parliamentary system-all via national plebiscite, despite being seen as good political strategy, will complicate matters. This, in my opinion, will serve flawlessly to grease the dry wheels of Jubilee’s propaganda machine. NASA will be seen in the negative light of “power-starved   political” demigods hell-bent on pursuing their own individualistic ends. Not the common interests of all Kenyans.

True to it, the master of mock politics, Mr William Ruto, has on several political rallies described the opposition’s alliance as a “coalition of the power-hungry” and “sore losers” without tangible and “pragmatic” agenda for this country. Though the remarks are replete with mockeries and scorns upon the NASA, it gives space for the argument that the opposition is staring at the rare political opportunity but it doesn’t know how to fully exploit it for its own political advantage.

Jubilee is in constant prayers and ardent supplication over the current biting [for lack of better word] economic situation that’s wrongly or rightly ascribed to poor leadership by the “liberal” political analysts and opposition politicians. It’s cognizant of the obstinate fact that the sky-high unga [maize flour] prices will leave it [the jubilee administration] on the receiving end of the angry and hungry Kenyans’ wrath.

So, when NASA team toys with the “unpalatable” idea of referendum now, I see the stupidity of training its [NASA’s] eyes away from the highly coveted political prize!

Does it surprise you, therefore, why some cabinet secretary who appeared to be frothing at the mouth spewed some unwarranted caveats to the opposition over “Politicizing” on the current high prices of maize flour? This is the thing. The Jubilee sees its way home if the oppositions sticks to the “politics of Unga” as some guy calls it.

However, Jubilee will have gotten the much-desired political lifeline, if the seemingly “disorganized” NASA focuses on “how to share power and its spoils,” and talks of referendum which many Kenyans consider as an affair that costs an arm and a leg.

Summed up in few words, talking of a referendum now amounts to politically sky-diving without a parachute. NASA can do better avoiding the “referendum idea” and adhere to the issues that matter. Considering that the immoral prices of maize flour is a ticking political time bomb, a smart politician would have known what to do.

Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press

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