By Dr Agnes Zani
The Orange Democratic Movement has stood for great things in our country under some of the most inspiring and committed pro-change leaders Kenya has known.
Secretary General Anyang Nyongo, Party Leader Raila Odinga, and the team that worked under them have rendered tremendous leadership to the party and served our country under very difficult circumstances.
I have to acknowledge this from the outset even as I stake claim to the position of Secretary General in the coming party elections. The current leadership has done a great job at making clear what the party stands for. This is not something you can say of many of our parties.
Through Raila in 2007, ODM declared investment in infrastructure its first three priorities.
In government under a hostile coalition arrangement, the country witnessed the greatest investment in infrastructure in our history. ODM was certainly behind this push.
Almost single handedly, ODM defeated a heavily funded and state run attempt to force a bad constitution on Kenyans in 2005. In 2010, ODM brought a new constitution and devolution simply by saying Yes first while others still fumbled.
In the Grand Coalition Government, ODM pushed for the most ambitious attempt to bridge poverty and employment gap through targeted cash transfers, food subsidy and employment programme that prioritised those without formal education and training skills but who nevertheless had families and dependants.
Kazi Kwa Vijana was a bold experiment that was bad mouthed and frustrated to death by the jealousies of those in the Grand Coalition.
Interestingly, the forces that ridiculed it as backward and analogue are today talking of creating employment for the youth in irrigated farms and construction of the railway line. It will be the same manual Kazi Kwa Vijana style labour. There is yet no farming and building of railways by computers.
In Government, ODM pushed for greener, cleaner country. The green growth and environmental conservation agenda have almost died with ODM’s exit from government.
I am proud of ODM’s short but rich history. I am even more proud and hopeful about the possibilities for the future under ODM.
ODM is today in opposition. This gives us the chance to have a far-reaching debate that we can only manage while out of government. It gives us a chance to re-organise internally, review our policies in line with the changing expectations, revamp and, above all, achieve a buy in by members into what we want to stand for and how we want to execute it in the years ahead.
ODM has remained the most popular and the only national party in the country from inception to date. Our grassroots reach is unparalleled.
But in 2013, we became a victim of our own success. Our very popularity became our curse. Because of tight time frames, we failed to manage the demand for our ticket. In the process, we lost members to other parties and performed below our expectation in the elections.
Charting the way forward, carrying on with a great tradition and inventing new ways for more appeal to more people are part of the reasons I want to be Secretary General of this great movement.
I intend to help the party re-charge and rediscover its mission of being in touch with people’s concerns.
The Secretary General is in the best position to bring the party principles to life and project party ideology.
I want to help our party give direction to our country. Our people need guidance from tested and tried voices of reason now more than ever. Kenyans are getting increasingly frustrated as they struggle daily to make ends meet while the cost of living and insecurity soar.
Thousands of our citizens are wondering whether they will manage to take their children to class one, form one or university or pay rent. Millions are wondering why the economy seems to be growing and working only for a tiny minority.
Millions of Kenyans are wondering how come nothing is changing for them however hard they work. ODM worries daily about these issues. That is why we call ourselves a social democracy that is committed to capitalism with a human face.
I am running for Secretary General, not as the best thing to have happened to ODM, but a first among equals. I want to help my party realize these dreams that are important for Kenyans.
I want to carry forward the goal of making sure our economy works for every Kenyan. I want to carry forward our party’s struggle to secure devolution.
I am confident I can do the job, given my background. I was born and raised in Kwale, a region that has borne the brunt of inequitable distribution of national resources. I therefore naturally fully support devolution. I bring gender dimension to the party.
I have been a lecturer, an administrator and activist
I have both theoretical and practical expertise in my blood. I can deliver for ODM and Kenya.
Dr Agnes Zani is a nominated senator and hails from Kwale County. Until her nomination, she lectured at the University of Nairobi.