ODM Executive Director and long-time Raila strategist Oduor Ongwen has spoken broadly on the the future of Orange Democratic Movement and the ‘left of the centre’ politics in Kenya, prophesying that there is a ‘future’ in gradual politics.
Ongwen, who took over from former Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat as the ‘CEO’ of ODM, delved into the highs and lows of ODM, now a decade old political party, saying the party’s Achilles heel (weakest joint) was its ability, at inception, to attract mass followers which also included a substantial number of former KANU reactionaries.
“Before long, these elements had lit fires of ethnic polarisation, incessant gossip, unprincipled intrigues and witch-hunt in the party. Marionettes taking flight with party registration certificates, ”luminaries” decamping; and fuzzy math by some ODM leaders to show how their own outfit had no chance against their own party-less incumbent Mwai Kibaki played out as wanainchi wondered whether they had bet on the wrong horse.”
A socialist leaning political scientist, Ongwen toldÂ ‘The Star’ newspaper that ODM proclaims social democracy as its ideology.
“It is driven Â by interest of communities and working classes. Social democracy promotes and practices politics of basic needs and social inclusion. On the economic front, while it does not undermine private ownership of the means of production and distribution, it encourages a regime of strong regulatory environment to ensure equal opportunities for all. The regulatory framework also ensure that the pursuit of private profits is not at the expense of life, dignity and happiness.”
”No geniune progressive party can survive the corporate press, corrupt party funding system and the conservative fear machines by fighting these forceses on their own terms. The left can build only from the ground up, reshaping itself through the revitalization of communities, working with local people to help fill the gaps in social provision left by uncaring elite. Successive progressives movements must now be citizens study cycles, savings and credit cooperatives, trade unions, students unions, merry-go-round chamas, primary care-workers, football clubs etc. Focus groups, image experts and spin doctors no longer deliver.”
On communities involvement in the affairs of ODM, Ongwen notes;
“Revitalising communities is not just an election strategy. It is a programme for change in its own right, even without sympathetic government. If it takes roots, it will outlast the vicissitudes of politics.But it will also make success more likely. If (sic) ODM wants to reconnect, it must be the change it wants to see”.Â