Political parties in Kenya for the first time converged to discuss how to focus on issues in their politics.
Under the auspices of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-Kenya), senior officials from over 20 political parties participated in a national conference designed to augment and sustain calls for issue-based politics at intra and interparty discourse centered on policy role of political parties.
The conference is part of the ongoing ‘politics of ideas and solutions’ project that CMD-Kenya is implementing in partnership with the Danish Liberal Democracy (DLDP). The goal of the project is to promote development of new ideas, issue-based politics, and thematic policy development and provide a platform for political parties to reflect on the urgent need to reformulate their policies and programmes to focus on solutions and challenges facing the Kenya.
Speaking at the conference, CMD-Kenya chairperson Omingo Magara said: “Ethinic based parties and political mobilization on ethnic lines in the bane in Kenya and a major impediment to democratic culture and constitutionalism taking root and germinating.”
Most speakers at the conference underscored that issue-based politics is the catalyst for better service delivery and development, with party officials emphasizing that political leaders must be compelled to concentrate on issues affecting Kenyan people across societal divides.
Among the speakers included: Hon. Martha Karua who spoke on: Mainstreaming the Gender Parity Issue in Party Politics, Prof. Larry Gumbe:The Role of Political Parties in Tackling the Salient Governance and Issues in the Devolved System and Dr. Adams Oloo who made a Presentation of the Study Findings/Recommendations of the Policy Orientations and Programmes of Political Parties, a survey commissioned by CMD-Kenya to establish the situation currently supported by quantitative and qualitative data to strengthen internal capacities and mechanisms within political parties for the participatory formulation of their policies, articulation, and utilization in public agenda setting.
CMD-Kenya Executive Director Njeri Kabeberi decried the problems with the current political setup in Kenya stating that “people in leadership positions seem to owe their allegiance, not to the people they claim to represent or the country as a whole, but their political masters who own political parties.” She called on party members to reinvigorate their demand for policy issues on the political podium at every opportunity.