ON ELEC­TIONS: WE MUST DE­LIB­ER­ATELY CHANGE HOW WE THINK AND ACT

Nairobi Law Monthly - - You Wrote Us -

Your ed­i­to­rial “A few things African na­tions can do to make elec­tions mean­ing­ful” in the March is­sue was timely. One only needs to con­sider the lat­est by-elec­tion ex­er­cises in Malindi and Kericho to re­alise the truth­ful­ness of what was said in the ar­ti­cle.

I was sur­prised by the state­ment of the Elec­tion Ob­server Group chair Brian Weke re­gard­ing the re­cently con­cluded by-elec­tions in Kericho and Malindi as be­ing free and fair. Be­ing from Malindi, and present dur­ing the vot­ing day, what I wit­nessed and was widely re­ported in the me­dia points to any­thing but free and fair elec­tions. May be we need to re­vise the mean­ing of free and fair elec­tions in Kenya be­fore we make such state­ments.

To be truly free and fair, elec­tions must trans­par­ent and well-man­aged on elec­tion day. Free and fair elec­tions must en­cour­age full ci­ti­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion, po­lit­i­cal par­ties to op­er­ate freely, in­de­pen­dent me­dia to thrive, se­cu­rity agents that pro­vide pro­tec­tion dur­ing the elec­tion pe­riod with­out in­tim­i­da­tion or bias, and a ju­di­ciary sys­tem ca­pa­ble of ex­er­cis­ing in­de­pen­dent and im­par­tial au­thor­ity.

What was free in the Malindi by-elec­tion when ar­moured mil­i­tary per­son­nel car­ri­ers were seen on the streets on the Elec­tion Day? How many vot­ers felt in­tim­i­dated by such show of force and de­cided to stay away? There were many cases of voter bribery re­ported. How do we ex­plain a sup­porter of a party with money stashed in his pock­ets sit­ting out­side a polling sta­tion with the full view of the WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU: Send your let­ters to, ed­i­tor@nairo­bi­law­monthly.com Sub­mis­sion of a let­ter con­sti­tutes per­mis­sion to pub­lish it in any form or medium. Let­ters may be edited for rea­sons of space and clar­ity. DIS­CLAIMER: All let­ters sub­mit­ted to The Nairobi Law Monthly Mag­a­zine are pre­sumed to be in­tended for pub­li­ca­tion. The ed­i­tor re­serves the right to edit all let­ters. Read­ers are ad­vised to keep their let­ters short and to sub­mit their names and ad­dresses even when th­ese are not to be pub­lished.

po­lice and vot­ers? Peo­ple were beaten up at the polling sta­tions, women stripped off their clothes and no one was ar­rested or charged. Ac­tu­ally peo­ple were taken to the po­lice sta­tion only to be re­leased im­me­di­ately! Dur­ing the last few days of the cam­paign and dur­ing the Elec­tion Day, Malindi was in­vaded by peo­ple from out­side of the town. We have wit­nessed the­atri­cal episodes be­tween Gov. Joho and Hon. Waititu, among oth­ers. I can­not imag­ine a sce­nario where a leader from Malindi goes to Ka­bete or Mom­basa to cause such episodes dur­ing in elec­tions.

What was fair about the Malindi by-elec­tion when both the Na­tional and County Govern­ments used pub­lic re­sources to cam­paign for their can­di­dates? The Deputy Pres­i­dent with high rank­ing of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Ma­jor­ity House Leader Aden Duale camped in Malindi to cam­paign for their can­di­date. Gov­er­nor Has­san Joho and bunch of MPS from ODM rarely left Malindi dur­ing the cam­paign pe­riod. What about the can­di­dates who were not af­fil­i­ated with the rul­ing Ju­bilee or Cord? Did they stand a chance?

Both Ju­bilee and Cord ad­mit­ted that there were prob­lems dur­ing the by-elec­tion. Even the win­ning party com­plained of rig­ging, some­thing I have never heard of in Africa. In­stead of in­ves­ti­gat­ing th­ese prob­lems and pre­par­ing for the pos­si­ble so­lu­tions, we are wit­ness­ing new episodes of “elec­tion con­se­quences”. As we sat down watch­ing the elec­tion re­sults trickle in, one couldn’t help but no­tice that the re­sults from Kericho (where the vot­ing took place in the whole county) were be­ing tal­lied faster than those from Malindi (where vot­ing was con­fined to one con­stituency). And that no can­di­date went to the courts to launch an ap­peal tells you the con­fi­dence peo­ple have in our ju­di­ciary sys­tem.

Kenyans have come long way and are too en­light­ened about democ­racy to be taken for fools. Sooner or later, we must re­vise our way of think­ing and do­ing. in­di­vid­u­als can go to get more ad­dicted to the point of no re­turn. Your ar­ti­cle “An in­tox­i­cat­ing re­al­ity” shed the light on the ne­far­i­ous­ness of the cen­tres and now the govern­ment of Kenya needs to im­pose strict rules on Na­cada keeps its house in or­der be­fore we end up be­ing the new gi­ant of drug abuse.

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