Why Kenyans must speak pow­er­fully and vote for cer­tainty on Oc­to­ber 17

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - SUNDAY REVIEW -

ABri­tish news­pa­per ad­ver­tises its writ­ing thus: “Words are pow­er­ful, use them thought­fully. Words are pow­er­ful, choose them well.” Words are pow­er­ful be­cause they have mean­ings which they con­vey. These mean­ings trans­late into ac­tion by the tar­geted au­di­ence and beyond.

There are two words which both the gov­ern­ing Ju­bilee Party and the ri­val Na­tional Su­per Al­liance (Nasa) are not us­ing, but which they bring to the mind of ev­ery Kenyan and global watch­ers of Kenya by their ev­ery ut­ter­ance. These two words jump at, stare at and speak to Kenyans and the world.

These words are cer­tainty and its op­po­site, un­cer­tainty. Money, the peo­ple and in­sti­tu­tions that have it and or lend it do not like sit­u­a­tions and ut­ter­ances that con­vey or evoke un­cer­tainty. They look for cer­tainty in the spo­ken and un­spo­ken words. Of course, peo­ple who are look­ing for money do not like un­cer­tainty ei­ther.

When there is un­cer­tainty, lenders and in­vestors in­voke another word: risk. This is the like­li­hood of loss of their hard earned money. Risk causes them to re­assess their in­vest­ment plans. Put another way, un­cer­tainty puts lend­ing on hold; post­pones in­vest­ments; forces govern­ments, com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als into a wait-and-see mode; leads to cap­i­tal flight; and, there­fore, slows eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

When a top ho­tel scales back its out­side cater­ing ser­vices be­cause tak­ers are few, a fam­ily in a hovel is likely to miss a meal. When a blue chip com­pany shelves its plans to in­vest in Kenya and opts for Uganda, that enterprising Kenyan who had taken out a bank loan to buy ma­te­ri­als in readi­ness for a new con­tract goes from the black into the red overnight.

These is­sues are well known to Pres­i­dent Keny­atta and Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto of Ju­bilee and Mr Raila Odinga of Nasa.

But, Nasa has thrown the gaunt­let on the floor: They are not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Oc­to­ber 17 re­peat pres­i­den­tial poll un­less cer­tain vote thieves at the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion (IEBC) are sacked.

And if they are not vot­ing they will make sure that Ju­bilee does not vote ei­ther. No ac­count­abil­ity, no election, they pro­claim. But it turns out it is not only Nasa that is an­gry. The DP de­clares with a straight face and live on na­tional TV that the IEBC chair­man Wa­fula Che­bukati holds clan­des­tine night meet­ings with Mr Odinga.

En­ter the Pres­i­dent. For the umpteenth time he lets rip and rips Chief Jus­tice David Ma­gara, the Pres­i­dent of the Supreme Court, ac­cus­ing him of steal­ing his Au­gust 8 poll vic­tory via an­nul­ment of the re­sult that de­clared him win­ner. It is deeply dis­turb­ing, dis­cour­ag­ing and uned­i­fy­ing when the Com­man­der-in-chief brands the CJ thief-in-chief.

In­deed, when the Pres­i­dent fights the Ju­di­ciary, a co-equal arm of govern­ment, there is fear of Ex­ec­u­tive dic­ta­tor­ship and there­fore emas­cu­la­tion of the Ju­di­ciary and the rule of law. This is the up­shot when the Pres­i­dent runs as hard against the Chief Jus­tice as his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent.

What does the DP’S in­sin­u­a­tion that IEBC is plot­ting to rig the pres­i­den­tial re-run in favour of Nasa por­tend? And what is the im­port of Nasa’s threat to en­sure there is no election on Oc­to­ber

17? Mr Ruto but­tresses the point that IEBC’S cred­i­bil­ity ac­count is over­drawn. But he will not back de­mands that Mr Che­bukati & Co be fired chiefly be­cause that is Nasa’s pitch and not Ju­bilee’s.

Nasa’s de­mands and threat drive the ten­sion and tem­per­a­tures steeply and dan­ger­ously north­wards given that this is the first time Kenya is hav­ing a re­peat pres­i­den­tial poll; the cam­paign is poi­soned and oc­cur­ring in a high oc­tane at­mos­phere bub­bling with eth­nic-based mo­bil­i­sa­tion. Here’s the co­nun­drum; Ju­bilee and Nasa fight IEBC, fight the Ju­di­ciary and then, later, fight each other.

If you fight the ref­eree (IEBC), ter­rorise the ar­biter of dis­putes (Ju­di­ciary), then go ham­mer and tongs at each other, you can­not ex­pect your sup­port­ers to keep law and or­der. When you cre­ate such a world, you gen­er­ate un­cer­tainty, which, in po­lit­i­cal terms, de­notes a dirty world. For­tu­nately, this un­cer­tainty will be solved by cre­at­ing cer­tainty.

All it could take is a sin­gle meet­ing be­tween Ju­bilee, Nasa and IEBC and a sin­gle phrase there­after. But this can only be about the re­peat poll be­cause Kenyans did not vote for a coali­tion govern­ment. Two, Kenyans must vote for their pres­i­dent next month and, three, coali­tions breed un­cer­tainty.

Kenyans must speak pow­er­fully and vote wisely for cer­tainty by choos­ing a pres­i­dent de­ci­sively on Oc­to­ber 17.

KWENDO OPANGA The cam­paign is poi­soned and oc­cur­ring in a high oc­tane at­mos­phere bub­bling with eth­nic-based mo­bil­i­sa­tion. Here’s the co­nun­drum; Ju­bilee and Nasa fight IEBC, fight the Ju­di­ciary and then, later, fight each other.”

Opanga is a com­men­ta­tor with a bias for pol­i­tics wkopanga@gmail.com

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