GIVE POLITI­CIANS ROOM TO DE­FECT

Ju­bilee has failed to leave some lee­way for mem­bers to ma­noeu­vre, es­cape or re­treat

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices - DAUDI MWENDA Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor

Se­na­tor Ki­raitu Mu­rungi, ad­dress­ing a group of as­pi­rants at Thi­iri Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Meru county, de­scribed the Ju­bilee Party as a house with one en­trance and no exit.

Many pre­sumed this was in ref­er­ence to the re­cent anti-party hop­ping law. Media re­ports in­di­cate over 100 elected lead­ers have de­fected from Ju­bilee as the Regis­trar of Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties shut the door for more res­ig­na­tions within the 30-day win­dow pe­riod which ended on Oc­to­ber 8.

Why the mass ex­o­dus? It just goes to con­firm that no politi­cian wants to be locked in with­out op­tions. To them, it is a form of death or sui­cide. Even in the an­i­mal king­dom, the lion — the feared and ter­ri­fy­ing King of the Jun­gle — can­not en­ter a dark, un­lit cave. It may stand at the en­trance and is­sue a mighty roar in the hope of scar­ing out any quarry but it will not en­ter. A warthog en­ters a hole in re­verse, al­ways leav­ing a clear ra­dius of vi­sion. Sim­i­larly, never let a snake’s tail at the en­trance of a hole de­ceive you — be­cause the head is never far from it.

Ki­raitu’s warn­ing, whether sanc­tioned by the Ju­bilee lead­er­ship or not, was an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity. At­tempts by both Ju­bilee and Cord to put po­lit­i­cal as­pi­rants into strait­jack­ets will be vig­or­ously re­sisted. It was a strate­gic er­ror that left no safety valve for those ag­grieved at the nom­i­na­tions. Lit­i­ga­tion to de­clare the party hop­ping law un­con­sti­tu­tional is cur­rently on­go­ing, ob­vi­ously fi­nanced by dis­grun­tled po­lit­i­cal hope­fuls.

An­cient Chi­nese writer and strate­gist Sun Tzu in his 2,500-years-old but still au­thor­i­ta­tive trea­tise, The Art of War, ad­vises, “Al­ways al­low for an es­cape route (even for the en­emy). They must see that there is an al­ter­na­tive to death. Let them know an es­cape route is open and they will flee and dis­perse. ”Tzu goes fur­ther to say, “You must also leave your­self a line of re­treat so that you will have less trou­ble re­treat­ing.”

Men fight at their fiercest when trapped and, of­ten, bat­tle to their deaths. For ex­am­ple, some 300 trapped Spar­tans held off a 100,000-strong Per­sian army at the nar­row coastal pass of Ther­mopy­lae in 480 BC. They valiantly fought to their deaths.

Ju­bilee Party strate­gists fail on both counts by fail­ing to leave some room for mem­bers to ma­noeu­vre, es­cape or re­treat. Con­se­quently, the new out­fit has lost 54 elected lead­ers to the Amani Na­tional Congress in one month!

There was an in­ex­pli­ca­ble ur­gency in the dis­solved Ju­bilee Coali­tion to fold up and form a sin­gle party. Many tac­ti­cal er­rors have been made in the process, lead­ing to the col­lapse of JAP. It would be a tragedy of un­mit­i­gated pro­por­tions were JP to fol­low suit. This ur­gency is not driven or tied to Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta’s re­elec­tion but it could eas­ily jeop­ar­dise it. UhuRuto were pop­u­larly elected un­der an um­brella of par­ties that in­cluded TNA and URP in 2013 and can un­doubt­edly repli­cate the same feat in 2017. Even diehard op­po­si­tion prin­ci­pals such as Kalonzo Musyoka in a re­cent in­ter­view ap­pear to ac­knowl­edge this fact. So why the ur­gency?

Ju­bilee in­sid­ers in­ti­mate that JP is tied to Deputy Pres­i­dent Ruto’s elec­tion in 2022. They say Ruto wants to in­herit a sin­gle co­he­sive unit cov­er­ing the pop­u­lous ar­eas held by the Ju­bilee Coali­tion to drive his 2022 cam­paign. The Deputy Pres­i­dent has un­doubt­edly worked in­de­fati­ga­bly hard to pop­u­larise Ju­bilee across the coun­try. He is a de­serv­ing and mer­i­to­ri­ous can­di­date for Pres­i­dent.

The trou­ble may lie in at­tempts to hog-tie the Gema na­tion and drop it in a sin­gle cal­abash in or­der to en­force a prom­ise. Such an ac­tion is bound to meet some re­sis­tance and it’s in his best in­ter­ests to tread care­fully.

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