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Some Lessons from Saba Saba Rally 2014

Especially for CORD Leadership
by Matunda Nyanchama

  1. Don’t promise more than you can deliver: CORD supporter expectations were high, some even anticipating storming State House or raising an Arab Spring like revolution. It never came to be! And that’s a dent on CORD leadership.
  2. Never issue threats where you have no capacity to actualize them: my friend and patriot Raila Odinga (RAO) asked for govt to accept dialogue or else it will “see” come Saba Saba. Govt kept cool and waited. Saba Saba came. It has now gone. No CORD threat has been actualized. Instead, CORD support base may start doubting their leadership’s capacity to go beyond words to action.
  3. Build broad consensus (especially within your base) before broaching a major issue like national dialogue: there was a substantial section of CORD leadership absent from Saba Saba rally at Uhuru Park. Most noticeable Governors  Evans Kidero and Alfred Mutua. Others include Ababu Namwamba, Hassan Joho and many, many others. Message: RAO we aren’t with you on this.
  4. Keep the spirit of the original day (in this case Saba Saba) & ensure their architects are on side: where was the support/spirit of people like of Timothy Njoya, Charles Rubia, Kenneth Matiba, Willy Mutunga, Kivuta Kibwana, …. and many others? This spoke millions, more than anyone could speak of at the rally. In a way, this made the rally more like a RAO sojourn for relevance in the Kenyan political scene. (BTW: If Saba Saba were held without the partisan political overtones, I am sure even some from Jubilee would have attended!)
  5. Threats of any kind impact business: the Nairobi CBD was a no-go zone for many who did so voluntarily. This was the case even for civil servants despite threats of punishment by civil service mandarins. I don’t know what amount of business is transacted on a daily basis in Nairobi. What I know is that it was a cost to all of us. And yet we need economic activity to solve some of the problems (e.g. unemployment) that have been raised by CORD.
  6. Don’t count on automatic media coverage the way you would: media is business and dependent (to a very large extent) on government advertising. They may not want to bite the hand that feeds them!

That said, we have major problems to address in this country. Indeed, we need ongoing dialogue (yes with genuine concern for the common good) on how to address the challenges we face: negative ethnicity, unemployment, insecurity, … We must also hold the government to account to ensure they meet their part of the bargain in the “social contract”. Indeed, the Jubilee administration has under-performed in many areas. It is not clear whether they are incapable or whether they were over-hyped when they assumed power. Indeed, were our expectations too high? Or are they held captive of cartels as some people have suggested.

DN Picture of Saba Saba Rally 2014

DN Picture of Saba Saba Rally 2014

What’s clear is that the government needs to act and do so drastically in some areas (security, unemployment, social cohesion … are some) to restore Kenyans’ confidence in the Jubilee administration. And we know there are answers to all these problems. We just need the right people (with knowledge, capacity, capability and mandate) deployed in the right places in service of the nation. We need to remember that loyalty (to the administration leadership) alone will not solve our problems; uppermost should be loyalty to the Kenyan nation and merit to do the job.

One final note: when a nation is at war, we should all coalesce, regroup and attack the enemy collectively. In matters of security, we should consult (not through the media and threats) but via deliberative process that even scares the enemy. The fact is that, as Abraham Lincoln said: a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Matunda Nyanchama
July 9, 2014

Twitter: @nmatunda

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