Opinion / Commentaries
Friday, 12 May 2017 17:05 EATlmakena@kenyafreepress.com
Kenyans have been intrigued by the high number of candidates running for political offices in the upcoming general elections as independent candidates. The independent candidates are, by every definition now, the third force, not for anything else but for their sheer numbers that have shocked the country.
By the end of submission for credentials by independent candidates on May 8th IEBC announced that it had cleared nearly 4,000 individuals to run in that category which has been described by some analysts as the largest party of all.
But the question is how independent are our independent candidates? Not at all. Most of the self-styled independent candidates are in fact losers from the main political parties, primarily ODM and Jubilee. What drove such candidates to run independently is not their unique politics but their feeling of rejection by political party 'owners' that they previously served so loyally.
Nothing shows this fact than the meeting today at Kigwa Hotel in Kiambu, where the leading 'independent candidates' from Central Kenya including former Limuru MP George Nyanja and former NACADA chairman John Mututho endorsed President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election campaign.
To be independent does not merely mean not running on a political party as Kenyans seem to believe. It also means not subscribing to the ideologies of the dominant political formations - of which the governing party is the most important. One abuses the independent platform when they go around the country campaigning for all other candidates on dominant parties expect the one they are running against.
This anomaly is not new to Kenya. In 2013, only four MPs (Patrick Musimba of Kibwezi, John Serut in Mt Elgon, Gatobu Kinoti in Buuri and Wesley Korir in Cherangany) were elected as independent candidates to the national parliament. After the election, three of them immediately joined the Jubilee side. It is only Mr Musimba who remained independent.
Mr Serut, however, rediscovered his 'independence' in recent weeks and alongside Miguna Miguna who is running for the Nairobi governorship, had long before the party primaries indicated that he would contest as independent candidate for his Mt Elgon parliamentary seat.
Mr Kinoti at 29 years old was the youngest MP in the 11th parliament and had been popularly elected by voters impressed by the fact that he had rejected well-paying jobs in order to take a non-salaried job as a teacher in his local village after university education. He also defected to Jubilee.
In recent years, Kenyans watched in horror as our politicians used political parties strictly as 'election vehicles' joining and defecting from the political at the drop of a hat depending on their immediate interests at any time.
Once that was fixed by a law now requiring political parties to register their members ahead of the election, it seems that next theater for politicians to pursue their raw leadership ambitions is through independent candidatures.