Latest media reports that aspirants of the presidential race are lining up tens of billions of shillings as their war chest for the forthcoming election, are worrying.
Agreed, finances during competitive election campaigns are supposed to help in planning, mobility, mobilisation and effective execution of campaign programmes by parties and candidates. But in Kenyaâs case, there is a scary element of vote buying, undue influence to voters and election officials and outright manipulation of the electoral process. That points to a slide towards corrupt, undemocratic elections. A recipe for political instability.
âBig money for votes 2012â has been linked to contenders Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, George Saitoti, Kalonzo Musyoka, Peter Kenneth, Raphael Tuju and lately Musalia Mudavadi. They are said to be amassing billions to power their way to succeed President Kibaki.
It is the destructive outcome, both politically and socially, of âbought leadershipâ that Kenya is desperate to undo and overcome. Commercial politics has become the bane of our politics.
âBig money for leadershipâ has its origin in the past years of former President Jomo Kenyatta when his senior succession antagonists resorted to crafty, undemocratic maneuvers to pack Parliament with cronies whom they hoped to use to outsmart rivals to power. But at that time they juxtaposed "bought leadership" with crude assassinations of opponents, primitive political thuggery and ethnic manipulation. Those were the days of the infamous âchange the Constitutionâ insurgency within ruling Kanu.
These were the years of Gema community oath-taking that purported to bind the Gikuyu, Embu, Meru and Mbeere tribesmen to restrict the presidency in the âHouse of Mumbiâ plus the presidential motorcade not going beyond River Chania et cetera.
Those also were the days when the Provincial Administration and murderous gangs of political activists were paid to abduct and torture unwanted political opponents to cripple their campaigns, block them from presenting their nominations to election officials or to block them from witnessing irregular votes tallying.
These traits were unfortunately adopted intact and even broadened by the post-Kenyatta regimes. Unfortunately, post-Kenyatta leaders perfected the worst of the electoral malpractices and further entrenched dictatorship and the âbig man syndromeâ politics.
The political police got strengthened turning Kenya into a police State, political freedoms were curtailed and the culture of buying leadership enforced by the political police and party dictators was devolved to constituencies.
It was also replicated in party grassroots elections to âprune outâ âunwantedâ persons and plant stooges. During the dark era there was a bit of control of the big money poured to buy elective posts.
Often the money could be dished out from the seat of power to the target candidates through senior, carefully selected regional political prefects. This culture has been perpetuated through political generations. People in power have used the âlethalâ weapon of big money to buy power and manipulate voters.
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