Radicals in Plan to Control Parliament
The Nation (Nairobi), 20 May 2001
Team Radicals launched a political party yesterday and unveiled plans to gain control of two thirds of the next Parliament.
Relaunching the little-known Party of the People of Kenya, they said they would no longer try to influence events from outside the House.
Speaking at the low-key launch attended mainly by representatives of fringe parties at Ufungamano House, Nairobi, National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) Co-Convenor Kivutha Kibwana said: "We shall go to great lengths and use any resources to rally like-minded pro-reform forces on this agenda".
"We have been largely working from the outside. It's now time to wage the reform crusade from inside Parliament."
The party, whose organising secretary, a Mr Richard Kalembe Ndile, was reported to have been arrested on Friday for allegedly inciting farmers, says it stands for "radical democracy".
Prof Kibwana said: "We are identifying the people to take to the next Parliament," he said in a speech peppered with sharp criticism of the Government and the Opposition for its disunity.
How to pick the 145 legislators for the 220-member House "will be left to the people," he said, without elaborating.
But Prof Kibwana denied being a member of the PPK and said NCEC did not own it. The party was, like many others, a member of NCEC, he said.
"We now have 45 parties. Ideally, we only need three parties - one which is conservative, another which is radical and a third one taking care of those with centralist ideologies," he said.
Time had probably come for parties seeking registration to first demonstrate that they had a countrywide appeal, he said.
The PPK Secretary-General, Mr George Mwaura Mburu, 38, said the Limuru-based party would advocate "complete radical social-democracy."
It aims to reach out to the young and oppressed, and "has no place for the rich and exploitative. We urge them to take a back seat and rest in peace," he said.
The party would concentrate on issues of land, farmers, the poor, jobless and oppressed, he said.
Mr Mburu said his party was registered on September 29, 1997 - after a five-year wait and its motto is "equality, justice and liberty."
"But we decided to first get our house in order before plunging into serious politics. We are now ready, and anybody willing to contest on a PPK ticket can start applying," he said.
He had in 1997 turned down several such applications; and subsequent attempts to buy the party, he said, without elaborating who precisely wanted to buy the society.
The party chairman, Mr Haroun Waweru, from Nakuru, also skipped the launch ceremony for unexplained reasons.
The low key ceremony was attended by about 70 people, mainly comprising youth and many members of the National Youth Movement.
Prof Kibwana, who was the only key NCEC official in attendance, said divisions in the Opposition were coming at a time when there is even more repression by the Government. "President Moi's advisers are telling him not to make the same mistake of opening up democratic space like Gorbachev and de Klerk did in their final years," he said.
Prof Kibwana urged Kenyans to view succession beyond President Moi and Kanu.
"It will also involve a majority of MPs, who will not make it back to the House, and would do anything to vote for the extension of the life of the current Parliament so that they continue enjoying their good salaries," he said.
He said he was not aspiring for any parliamentary seat in the immediate future.
"It's too early to talk about that. My involvement in direct politics will depend on how reforms shape up. There is no need of getting into an election for the sake of elections."
Among others in attendance were Mr Peter Ligale and Mr John Oduor, chairmen of The Union of National Salvation of Kenya, and The United Democrats of Peace and Integrity, respectively.
Copyright 2001 The Nation. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).