[Remarks by CORD leader Raila Odinga in a meeting with Nyanza leaders in Oyugis]
This meeting is the first in a series we intend to hold with our elected leaders into the first quota of 2015 as part of the mid term review of our performance.
These meetings should help us sort out thorny issues, consolidate our strongholds, perform better and prepare better for next elections.
Allover the world, ruling parties remain focused on retaining power. Opposition parties train their eyes on how to attain power and turn their ideals into policies. It is not any different with us.
Opposition parties acquire power by constantly critiquing government policies and offering alternative realities. The short and clearest path to power for opposition parties is that of showing that they could have done better, that there are better ways to govern a country than what is being offered.
That means our work should have been extremely easy here, with the many, many failures of the Jubilee regime. It is not a secret that Kenyans are making do with certainly the most incompetent and arguably the most corrupt regime the country has ever known.
Insecurity is at its worst. Under Jubilee, the economic environment has deteriorated rapidly especially for the poor. Inflation continues to rise; the exchange rate remains volatile.
Under Jubilee, Kenya is now de-industrializing. Cadbury and Eveready have recently closed shop in Kenya and will now sell products imported from Egypt. That means loss of jobs for thousands of youth.
Tourism is at its lowest, horticulture, tea and miraa sectors are all struggling to survive. In fact, the formal sector has more or less stopped creating jobs.
Jubilee has refused to reform the Police. Instead, it is reforming and militarizing the National Youth Service. Never in Kenya’s history has the government’s edict held sway over less of the country than it does now. In over half the country, the government’s authority is almost worthless.
There is clear attempt to muzzle civil society and the media. Donor supporters are being vilified. The country is surely on the path to the past.
Yet these many failures and our alternatives to them are not (what) our supporters hear from us.
Instead, the loudest word we hear is either silence or a small but growing voice of those who say, we must work with Jubilee for the sake of development and to capture power in 2017.
From where I sit, I know supporting the policies of a failing regime can never be a path to capturing power. It is therefore my position that you are either with us or with them. You are for us or against us. It can’t be both. And we have rules that can be applied to deal with the scenarios.
This is about our future as a region and as leaders as much as about our country. How do we want our country and our voters to remember and judge us in two years time?
For those who don’t know, the best things ever to happen in our country in the last two decades never came from the government but from the opposition.
Multipartism was not a gift from the government. It is the oppositions gift to this nation.
The Constituency Development Fund, which has put money and power in the hands of MPs, came from the Opposition.
The Free Primary Education came from the Opposition as we battled and eventually defeated Kanu in 2002.
The New Constitution and particularly devolution and County governments is the work of the opposition.
These changes were not brought by a battalion. They were forced on KANU by a small band of committed and inspired MPs who risked life and limb for the sake of us all.
We should feel proud that ODM and by extension CORD is the party that retains a majority of those patriots working hand in hand with a new crop of youthful leader.
A focused and committed opposition does and can deliver.
To take over the Promised Land, Joshua was told to leave the many panicking soldiers in the camp and proceed with a fearless and committed few. The time has come for us too to take a stand, make a decision and draw the line.
And so we convened here to deliberate on these emerging scenarios and take a position as a party and a region before we can move to other regions to do the same. Our ultimate goal is to capture power in 2017 through better organization, better ideologies and better articulation of issues.