Govt schem­ing shows to­tal lack of pro­pri­ety on its part

The East African - - OPINION -

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

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