Fair elec­tions need strong in­sti­tu­tions

Mail & Guardian - - Comment & Analysis -

As the Kenyan (I am Kenyan) re-elec­tion day looms after the an­nulling of the re­sults of the re­cent elec­tions by the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA), I have been re­assess­ing the value of vot­ing.

Elec­tions do play an im­por­tant role in democ­racy as the right to vote gives cit­i­zens the power and choice to elect their de­sired rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

But aren’t we over­rat­ing elec­tions? Shouldn’t we put more em­pha­sis on build­ing and de­fend­ing strong, in­de­pen­dent and cred­i­ble in­sti­tu­tions? I mean, how can Kenyans (as a case study) have free and fair elec­tions if the body tasked with that man­date is not above re­proach?

The Kenyan ju­di­ciary, on the other hand, the six SCA judges — “wakora” if you like — in par­tic­u­lar, staffed with men and women worth their salt make the case for the need for ex­em­plary es­tab­lish­ments.

The im­por­tance of strong, in­de­pen­dent and cred­i­ble in­sti­tu­tions is akin to know­ing that, de­spite the vi­cis­si­tudes of life, the sky will al­ways be above one’s head and the earth un­der one’s feet. Such in­sti­tu­tions en­sure life con­tin­ues as nor­mal as pos­si­ble in spite of the un­cer­tain­ties of life in gen­eral and the tricks of pol­i­tics in par­tic­u­lar.

Vot­ing should be se­condary to hav­ing cred­i­ble, in­de­pen­dent bod­ies. If Kenyans or Africans in gen­eral have to have a true sense of nor­malcy, se­cu­rity, sta­bil­ity, peace and pros­per­ity, then in­sti­tu­tions with in­tegrity should take their right­ful place in the or­der of things — and take a pri­mary role to vot­ing.

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