Kenyans alarmed as opposition "loses oomph" to check government

Odinga and his colleagues in the opposition Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, and Moses Wetangula would have admonished the government on the scandals

Kenyans alarmed as opposition "loses oomph" to check government

Odinga and his colleagues in the opposition Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, and Moses Wetangula would have admonished the government on the scandals

05 June 2018 Tuesday 19:35
Kenyans alarmed as opposition "loses oomph" to check government

NAIROBI

A section of Kenyans are getting concerned as the opposition loses the agility and interest to check the government.

The opposition in the East African nation is seemingly dead following a political truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival in disputed 2017 polls, Raila Odinga. Since the March 9 unity pact between the two, Odinga who has been the face of the Kenyan opposition politics for ages, has supported government initiatives. 

He has further remained silent as various corruption scandals erupt in different government agencies.

They include alleged theft of public funds at National Youth Service, Kenya Power, Kenya Pipeline and the National Cereals and Produce Board.

Initially, Odinga and his colleagues in the opposition Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, and Moses Wetangula would have admonished the government on the scandals and even called for mass action.

But this time, they have been silent, with Odinga only saying he supports the ongoing government war against corruption.

"Where is the opposition voice in the challenges facing the country? It is close to eight months since the country held elections and the opposition has been missing in action especially in the last three months," Simon Ondari, a welder and an opposition supporter who voted for Odinga for president in last August polls, said Tuesday.

Ondari noted that him and thousands of opposition supporters across the country want their voices heard in key national issues. 

"Odinga used to speak for us on matters facing the country but his deal with Kenyatta does not mean he keeps quiet," he said. 

While Ondari said he may understand why Odinga is quiet, he faulted the other opposition leaders for keeping aloof.

"They should come out and take the opposition role which this country needs badly," he said.

However, not only opposition supporters are irked by the silence of their leaders, ruling party Jubilee adherents noted the government needs a check.

"The truce between Kenyatta and Odinga disintegrated the opposition and is killing it. With Odinga firmly behind Kenyatta, we have no alternative voice in the country. Who will speak for Kenyans when they are oppressed?" posed Nathan Kariuki, a civil society activist.

In parliament, which resumes Tuesday after recess, there is rare unity between the opposition and ruling party Jubilee legislators for the first time in years.

Aden Duale, the Majority Leader in the National Assembly, allayed fears that there is lack of checks on the government by the opposition.

He, on the other hand, said the unity between Odinga and Kenyatta has given confidence in the war against corruption and fast-tracked the addressing of various challenges in the country.

"It is evident that the current war against corruption has gained momentum because all leaders, including Odinga and Kenyatta, support it," Duale told a Kenyan TV station in an interview Monday.

Minority Leader John Mbadi has similarly denied claims opposition has lost the push to check government, noting recently that his party ODM, which Odinga leads, in particular, will continue to speak against excesses of the government.

Analysts noted that the unity between Odinga and Kenyatta does not allow Kenyans to have the opposition as they have known it for years characterized by street protests, boycott in parliament, threats of the vote of no confidence against the government and name calling.

"The unity only gives the country a chance to foster development but I believe we have some opposition though not strong from the civil society which is helping check government as in the case of recent street protests against corruption," observed Ernest Manuyo, a business management lecturer in Nairobi.

Xinhua

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