Govt scheming shows total lack of propriety on its part
It has been a dramatic week in Kenya. The positives first. In a letter to the political opposition dated September 22, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seems to have taken on board the import of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
It pointed to its two-year contract with Dubai-based printer Al Ghurair but also also apparently submitted to Treasury an offer from the United Nations Development Programme to procure the ballot papers and results forms. The ball is now in Treasury’s court.
It said its information technology infrastructure would remain in the hands of French company Ot-morpho/safran. This is regrettable.
However, the sop here was threefold. First, that IT experts representing the Commonwealth and the UN would be embedded with the IEBC’S IT team. Second, that political parties would also do the same. And third, that an independent audit of the IEBC’S data, software and IT would be commissioned immediately.
Finally, a “fresh presidential election implementation team” has been created, reporting directly to the chair and other Commissioners.
All of this, in conjunction with the order given by the Director of Public Prosecutions to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission to commence investigations with a view to criminal prosecutions, should go some way to the projection of an image in which legitimate concerns are being addressed and pending questions of criminal accountability are not being dropped by the wayside.
That said, the projection of an image is one thing. Committed and serious action is another. It is incumbent upon all organised Kenyans with influence to ensure these assurances turn out to be more than hot air.
But still, even with that caution and scepticism, those were positive developments. Now the negatives. There is a difference between the powers of incumbency and the powers of a (reportedly broke) political opposition. We cannot continue to equate the strategies at the political opposition’s disposal — domestically, including legitimate demonstrations and protests —with the multiple public and state powers available to the incumbent.
It is outrageous, for example, that the incumbent’s response to the political oppositions calls to demonstrate and protest was withdrawing the security of the leaders. That can only be read as a direct threat to their life and limb.
It is also outrageous that the person in the presidency has reduced his office to signing off on Kenyans’ freedom of movement. It’s retrogressive. Finally, it’s outrageous that, as the IEBC tries to convene the two political parties to discuss and agree on electoral preparations, the incumbent’s party tabled two Bills seeking to use its parliamentary majority to alter the electoral playing field by tampering with the checks and balances our electoral laws envisage, that the Supreme Court has just ruled upon.
The incumbent is coming across as desperate and vicious — a far cry from the image of liberal cosmopolitanism he tried to project before the Supreme Court ruling.
We need some sense of propriety. Urgently. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the African director for the Open Society Foundations Network based in London, the UK. This column is written in her personal capacity