RACHEL SHEBESH: Why I left ODM for TNA

I wish to explain why I will contest the forthcoming elections on a TNA ticket.
 
All political decisions made in my life have been guided by values I hold dear, including a belief in the principle and practice of democracy – the right to representation in a free, fair, open and transparent process within or without party boundaries.
 
Being principled also means making tough decisions, as my mentors Martha Karua, Charity Ngilu and Mumbi Ngaru have demonstrated, besides displaying the admirable qualities of courage, strength and decisiveness.
 
I thank my sponsoring party, ODM, for giving me the opportunity over the last couple of years to articulate the need to fight impunity, check the excesses of the Executive, promote adherence to the rule of law, and promote equity and equality.
 
This is a role I will continue playing. Going forward, I choose to contribute to nation building within a political context in an environment where all the variables are known, in a predictable party environment, and within a cohesive team.
 
Political choices, like many other personal decisions, are strategic in nature. So it does not make sense for people to argue sneeringly about political “self-preservation”, “survival” or “selfish” in reference to those who choose to claim a stake from a given position.
 
For this I draw inspiration from others who came before me, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga who formed NDP when his stay in Ford-K became untenable, and also engaged in other parties.
 
In forming TNA at a time of great personal challenge, with the ICC trials and refusal to be funnelled into a sponsored party, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta has demonstrated courage in adversity, and that he is ready to chart his own course free from professional handlers and self-styled gatekeepers.
 
This, to me, is admirable and represents a parting of ways with the status quo. In Mr Kenyatta, I see a genuine desire to provide a transition vehicle for delivering on the youth agenda – a much-touted but very elusive mandate.
 
To demonstrate this, one only needs to look at the make-up of the TNA secretariat to appreciate the youth factor in the party leadership.
 
With the space and unity of purpose afforded by TNA, I want to play my part in nurturing the women agenda with the benefit of relatively moderate experience in grassroots mobilisation activities under “Wamama na Uhuru” initiative.
 
Mr Kenyatta has on several public occasions pledged that TNA will not endorse preferred candidates – a clarion call that is already witnessing an influx of competitors into the party.
Because it is in its formative stage, I don’t delude myself that TNA does not face challenges, but it is starting on a clean slate with the intention of becoming transformational.
 
On the ICC trial of four Kenyans, let me reiterate that I supported and voted in Parliament for a local tribunal well before reforms in the judicial system began, with the primary motivation being that as many victims of the post-election violence should participate in the court process more conveniently.
 
With the current judicial reforms bearing fruit under Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, a mechanism that transfers hearings from The Hague to local jurisdiction can only serve to emphasise Kenya’s sovereignty.
 
Crucially, the distinction between judicial and political processes must be emphasised, a position which no less a personality than Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, confirmed when asked about Mr Kenyatta’s and Mr William Ruto’s candidacy for the presidency.
 
The determination of political choices must be made democratically by Kenyans. We must say no to coercive lobbying such as witnessed recently through the utterances of Mr Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which are tantamount to blackmail.
 
We must let the will of Kenyans determine their destiny. All who wish to engage me seriously in social media may contact me on my Twitter handle and treat any existing Facebook accounts and related malicious posts as fakes.
 

Hon. Rachel Wambui Shebesh

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