The clarification by the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u that MPs cannot, as yet, formally defect to new outfits unless they relinquish their seats is timely. Indeed, her statement should make MPs sit bolt upright—at least those who have declared their intention to jump ship as alliances shift and shift again in the run-up to 2017 General Election.
While legislators retain the right, under the Constitution, to freedom of association and assembly, expressed by joining political parties of choice, the tendency to party-hop has made nonsense of reasons for choosing their party tickets to contest for elective posts.
The registrar has rightly pointed out that while the amended Political Parties Act allows politicians to merge pseudo outfits that posture as parties, they cannot formally defect to other parties other than those under which they were elected.
For the record, this can only be done if the two parties submit to the Office of the Registrar merger agreements, which clearly state the terms outlining new arrangements.
Meanwhile, the MPs, and they are legion, who want to pledge allegiance to new parties must wait until the current Parliament is dissolved, as it will be, when the next polls are called.
It is apt that this is the case, for, given leeway, MPs would change parties as frequently as seasons come and go, with the same gusto and impunity displayed in disregard for good order and decorum. We say this because when multi-party politics was formally accepted in law in 1992, defections were the norm, so much so that the wish and will of the people was thrown under the bus.
It is critical that the political gains made by Kenyans are not reversed by a cabal of leaders elected by the very same people, to change parties at whim and without due regard to the wishes of the electorate.
If the current wave of shift of alliances continues in its trajectory, this country will witness enormous, almost seismic, political realignments most of which might not be founded on serious concern for ideology or even philosophy. Politicians are wont to shift allegiance based on aggrandisement, leaving the electorate rudderless and without direction.
The citizenry must be hawk-eyed to ensure the leaders they employed do not forsake their original parties unless they are consulted and give consent. If politicians had their way, they would relish in party hopping, which is not dissimilar to political promiscuity and which spells doom for the much-touted consistency in the body politic that would engender a transformation and development agenda for the country. The era of whimsical defections must remain dead and buried, in history, where it rightly belongs.