In their foresight, framers of the 2010 Constitution foresaw a situation where political party nominations would generate numerous disputes. A crafty lot, politicians define their own version of justice when faced with an existential threat. In their book, there is nothing wrong with stuffing ballot boxes in their favour.
Bribing their rivals’ agents is fair play as is pre-marking or printing their own ballots. Kidnapping and blackmail are not too dirty for them. The end justifies the means.
The Political Parties Disputes Tribunal is therefore spot on in calling for new timelines to resolve disputes arising from party nominations. According to its chairman, lawyer Kyalo Mbobu, the commission has been sitting for 18 hours a day resolving all manner of disputes filed by nomination losers. Some were self-serving trivialities while others were serious travesties of justice, such as the case where returning officers in one party were issuing parallel nomination certificates. Mr Mbobu is calling for changes in the law to define clear timelines for political parties to carry out their nominations. These regulations must specify how long internal party dispute resolution mechanisms should take before any matter is brought to the tribunal. It is a request Kenyans of goodwill should support because it lays the very foundation of a sound political future.
In a way, Mbobu’s call is an integral part of our political evolution from the politics of thuggery to a civilised rule-based competition for political power, its acquisition and retention. The tribunal should be commended for its mature handling of disputes under such difficult circumstances. The challenge for lawmakers is to craft legislation that does not accord political parties all the time they need to subvert their nominations. The aggrieved must be provided with an opportunity to get justice from the institutions mandated to resolve elections-related conflicts. And for justice to prevail, sufficient time must be provided for the adjudication process.