Over the Years, Egerton Campus Politics has always been Tribal-based with fake promises thrown here and there along the campaign trail. It has always been about ‘My Tribe’ being in the reigns of power. This has – in the end – diluted Student Politics and in turn ensured that the word of the School Administration becomes law. Is this going to change with the 2013/14 SUEU leadership?
Before we delve into that, let’s look back. The Wambua-led 2009/10 SUEU had guys pulling in different in different directions. Mungai-led 2010/11 SUEU was no different. The 2011/12 Koech-led SUEU marked the epitome of a divided SUEU with Koech leading a different faction from that led by the then Secretary General. Kivondo’s 2012/13 team had it’s share of internal wrangles but the leadership style of Kivondo, together with his Secretary General was one that could not be overshadowed by infighting.
All the aforementioned SUEU regimes shared at least one or all of the following characteristics. One, each of the leaders in those regimes ascended to power on individual platforms. Each of them had their promises and manifestos on which they vied and successfully clinched their respective seats. Secondly, the students were voting ‘against a particular tribe’ and hence the vote fell for the ‘other tribe’ by default.’
Thirdly, their was not much competition for a certain seat and hence the electorate decided to go for the proverbial ‘one eyed king, instead of the completely blind king.’ Last, but not least, comrades saw the potential the individual had, coupled it with the applicability of his/her manifesto and voted her/him in.
The problem of the regimes are similar. You can’t expect much from a blend of leaders from different campaign platforms, different manifestos, different personal interests and different interests for the comrades’ good. Personal interests always overrode the collective interest of the SUEU Constitution. These personal interests more often than not resulted into conflicts among the leadership. With conflicts already between the leaders, the rest of the Comrades can expect nothing but a continuation of the status quo and a vow to ‘vote wisely’ come the next SUEU Elections.
I wonder whether the 2013/14 SUEU Politicians saw these ‘disease’ that has been handed down from regime to regime? I wonder whether the different unions being formed among the aspiring candidates are informed by the need for a united SUEU that will push for Students Affairs! I still wonder whether there will be any change in the Student Leadership if Comrades were to vote in unified aspirants.
If these unions will be for the good of the students, then let them be encouraged. Let’s have a banner by, say, The Democrats with the image of the aspiring chair together with his team of fellow aspirants – complete with their manifesto. Let’s have another banner of The Republicans, with the same. As many as the groupings, parties or unions can get, let’s have them.
However, even as we embrace unified campaigns, let them be issue based. Even though National Politics have always been Tribal, I have a feeling that campus politics can shape National Politics. If comrades can take up issue-based politics and elect a comrade from a marginal tribe because of what he has to offer, then changing the National Politics won’t be a great deal.
Time has come to try a new style of leadership. A style in which the aspiring leaders form a union – call it a Party if you like – and come up with their manifesto against which comrades can gauge their performance while in office. This will transform the scapegoatish Student Politics that we have witnessed over the years with leaders not owning up to unmet Campaign Promises just because ‘it wasn’t mine.’
These can even be made law by including in the SUEU Constitution a clause that identifies both independent candidate and party politics within Campus – making the SUEU Constitution a one of a kind in Kenya. These Campus Parties should however be shielded from external political interference by the same constitution.
Isn’t it time for a change yet?