Friday, 11 May 2018

Let’s Address Electoral Injustice & Stop the Pretence

Embattled Chairman of IEBC.
Photo: Courtesy. 

Several weeks after the ‘handshake’ between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, political temperatures seem to have cooled down. The opinion shared by a significant majority of the Kenyan citizenry is the need to focus on development and not the political ballyhoo that was the norm during the electioneering period.

It is common for Kenyan politicians occupying various political offices to insist on the need to forget about what they term in their own words as unnecessary politicking.

Well, they might have invoked the thought of using commonsense whose rarity in Kenya’s political sphere is legendary.

One of the striking features of Kenya’s politics is the unnecessary politicking that has attained remarkable standards and grand notoriety. But sentiments laden with phrases such as unnecessary politicking often serve as statements of convenience to put off the politically incorrect folks calling for reforms or individuals keen to wrestle power from the incumbents.

Proponents of the notion that selectively encourages sections of the electorate to ignorantly embrace the development mantra and pretentiously forget about politics are, to say the least, an uninformed bunch of irresponsible politicians.

I cannot fail to express my displeasure and disappointment in regards to the false narration on the notion of promoting development regarded as the ultimate trade-off for the so-called unnecessary politicking. This is political brainwashing at its best.

Unbeknownst to many, development is a multidimensional concept and its narrow interpretation is a question of subjectivity.

The cunning and conniving Kenyan politicians religiously spin the misinformation that development is all about economic growth. They wouldn’t prioritize social and political development that are elemental in the structural transformation of a country.

And even as they pretentiously champion for economic growth and development, they tend to forget that economic reforms meant to address income inequalities, unemployment and the high cost of living are fundamentally important.

Unfortunately, the kind of development that is the politician’s best bet and metric for performance is that based on physical infrastructural projects such as roads and buildings most of which tend to be under-utilized and constructed based on voting patterns in a given constituency, nationally or locally.

Kenya’s political class has never been committed in promoting the country’s political development. The culture of impunity is deeply entrenched in the country’s political system, and worst of all, the electoral process is compromised with the electoral body’s independence jeopardized by the antics of the invisible political hand.

Vision 2030, whose attainment will be the greatest miracle of the 21st century, categorically outlines that Kenya’s development is to be propelled by three pillars namely the social pillar, economic pillar and political pillar.

The political pillar is to facilitate the entrenchment of democracy. A notable milestone under this pillar was the drafting and ratifying of a new constitution that replaced the old, tattered colonial legal relic that had been punctured for 47 years between 1963 and 2010.

But close to eight years after abandoning the fossilized colonial constitutional dispensation, whose observance was a matter of political correctness and convenience, nothing much has changed. The full implementation of the current constitution seems to be an option and not a duty for the government of the day.

For instance, the electoral process is still subject to manipulation with the independence of the electoral body only existing in name. With the benefit of hindsight, the conduct of the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the 2013 and 2017 general elections leaves a lot to be desired.

The two general elections reveal the total lack of seriousness to get over the electoral hangovers of Zacchaeus Chesoni and Samuel Kivuitu during the era of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).

After Kivuitu’s first class arrogance and unrivaled dalliance with the netherworld, following his cat-and-mouse games of releasing fabricated presidential results in 2007, majority of Kenyans believed that with the recommendations of the Kriegler Commission, electoral injustice would be addressed once and for all.

We were wrong. The power hungry political gods would hatch a conspiracy with the ghosts of Chesoni and Kivuitu to wreck IEBC’s intentions to deliver a credible election. The first IEBC team has an egg-faced history of siphoning taxpayers’ money through the procurement of fake kits meant for biometric voter registration at a cost of over Kshs. 9 billion.

The discredited and disgraced IEBC team under the wobbly leadership of Wanyonyi Chebukati is not in any way better than Issack Hassan’s team. Chebukati’s team is a true manifestation of world class incompetence.

Chebukati was set to fail from the onset. His dismal performance during the interviews to fill up vacant positions at the commission was a signal of the flippant leadership he brought to the electoral body. His wonky leadership created opportunities for manipulation of the electoral system set up by IEBC, and allowed commissioners to be compromised resulting in the annulment of the August 8th presidential election results.

Your’s truly holds a record, never mind whether it is a dubious or distinguished one, in deprecating Chebukati’s leadership from when he was interviewed for the country’s most difficult job. One of his colleagues, Roselyn Akombe, resigned last year, and recently the electoral body has witnessed the exodus of three other commissioners.

Apart from the intrigues facing the dishonoured electoral body, the country is now awash with the debate on the much hyped ‘Big Four’ policy agenda and the ‘handshake’. The ‘Big Four’ agenda degrades the relevance of political justice and democracy in development, and promotes the notion that economic development is more important.

Any sane economist would make a submission that democracy is elemental in the development process. However, authoritarian political regimes have also shown that economic growth and development can also be attained without the entrenchment of democracy.

But then democratic countries prosper economically when compared to authoritarian states whose economies falter when they disregard the need for political reforms. This is the path that the current administration has embraced; economics matters more than politics. This is a warped perception.

Conventional folks are banking on the unity office created as a result of the ‘handshake’ to address fundamental issues such as electoral injustice. Methinks that this won’t happen as the ‘handshake’ was an event born out of political interests.

If the Uhuru Kenyatta led administration was genuinely indebted to Kenya’s prosperity then at least political justice and electoral reforms should have featured in the much publicized ‘Big Four’ agenda.

To guarantee the country prosperity it is imperative that political justice, and in particular far-reaching electoral reforms, should be prioritized. Self-inflicted ignorance and arrogance livened through the “it is time for development” phrase is a denial of the challenges facing the Republic.

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