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Political party in Kenya goes online to carry on mobilization

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-05-26 22:07

Booker Omole, the national vice-chairman of the Communist Party of Kenya, is seen at Party headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. [Photo by Otiato Opali/chinadaily.com.cn]

With the advent of the novel coronavirus and restrictions introduced by governments across Africa, many political parties have seen reduced activities owing to the ban on public gatherings.

However in Kenya, the Communist Party of Kenya has taken to online resources to carry out study circles and continue with mobilization despite the virus.

Speaking at the party's headquarters along Nairobi's Ring Road, Booker Omole, the Party's national vice-chairman, said that unlike other political outfits in the country, CPK does not go to the populace only during election times, but the party's structure demands that it stays in constant contact with the masses to carry on the fight against imperialism.

"When the virus was reported in Kenya, our secretary-general issued a statement in support of the social distancing measures issued by the president. In order to comply with this, all our study groups across the country had to stop carrying out physical meetings. However with the realization that the coronavirus might be with us for a while, the Party decided to move its mobilization, organization and study groups onto the online platform," Omole said.

According to Godrick Otsieno, a Party member from Siaya County and a member of the Nyerere Study Circle, the decision to move studies online came at the right time. Otsieno said that once the coronavirus restrictions were announced, most of their activities stalled and some completely stopped.

"Through the online meetings, we have managed to keep the sensitization running despite the challenges faced by those of us in rural areas," Otsieno said.

Among the challenges Otsieno identified were lack of electrical connectivity in rural areas, poor phone network connectivity and technological challenges using some online resources among some people in the countryside.

"You realize that most peasants in the rural populations are extremely poor and the current system has alienated them from certain technological advantages. However we have been successful so far through learning as we went along," Omole said.

"We started holding meetings through online conferencing which was expensive and we moved to the webinars but some had time limitations or poor connections. We are currently piloting a platform that has proved to be stable and accessible in rural areas," he added.

The vice-chairman said that other than just holding study circles online, the Party is using other online platforms, like social media and messenger services to not only inform the public about the virus but also highlight certain aspects that affect Kenyan workers during the pandemic.

"We have seen that most African countries are just copy-pasting certain measures taken in European countries which cannot work in an African context. We should instead look at organized governance systems like China, where solid social services provided by the state have made them prepared for such pandemics," Omole said.

He added that unlike Western countries, which hesitated to take restrictive measures against the virus, the level of discipline that comes with the Chinese governance system went a long way in ensuring that they put a lid on the virus early enough.

"The coronavirus has exposed the gaping deficiencies of an imperialist system and brought an opportunity for progressives. It is time African governments start adopting socialist policies that insist on service to the people as opposed to profiteering. Currently, countries like China, Cuba and Russia are the ones sending doctors across the globe and aid, like protective equipment and testing kits, to poor countries," Omole said.

He said that the manner in which Western countries have handled the pandemic has been an expose on the failure of current capitalist institutions that have proven their inability to take leadership in times of crisis.

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