ON ELECTIONS: WE MUST DELIBERATELY CHANGE HOW WE THINK AND ACT
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, email@example.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 Readers are advised to keep their letters short and to submit their names and addresses even when these are not to be published.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.