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Campaigns do not give us licence to disparage institutions

By Kipchumba Murkomen | Published Thu, July 27th 2017 at 00:00, Updated July 26th 2017 at 21:03 GMT +3

The recent decision by the Court of Appeals which ruled against NASA and in favour of the IEBC on the ballot paper printing deal with Al-Ghurair, overruling a previous High Court position, should have far wider ramifications than this particular judgement.

NASA has been conspiring to blacken the name of Al-Ghurair for many months now, predicated on a supposed meeting between the owner of Al-Ghurair, and many other Dubai-based businessmen and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Opposition had claimed all sorts of backroom discussions and promises made and had driven a media frenzy surrounding the spurious accusations.

However, rather than in the court of opinion where accusations are enough to create suspicion and even guilt, in a court of law, real actual proof is needed, and when it came to the moment of truth all lawyers representing NASA could present a few meagre press cuttings, mostly describing the rumours they themselves had previously circulated.

The judge’s decision was unequivocal and damning. “Having considered evidence on record and law, we agree newspaper cuttings produced were hearsay and therefore not admissible,” Justices Erastus Githinji, Roselyn Nambuye, Visram Alnasir, Jamilla Muhammed and Otieno Odek said.

“Even if admissible, without proof the court cannot treat it as sufficient evidence.”

So the months of incessant attacks, insinuations and downright lies were backed by absolutely no evidence.

NASA successfully launched a campaign to delegitimise the IEBC in the eyes of the Kenyan public. the Court of Appeal stated very clearly that the NASA submissions were empty.

While it might be hard for the IEBC to regain the trust of the Kenyan people, NASA have not stopped attacking almost every reputable institution and organization.

Almost daily, NASA uses an opportunity to lambast anyone.

In the last few months, the NASA principals has accused The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), The Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF), The Humanitarian Peace Support School, The Kenya Forest Service, The National Youth Service, Wildlife officers, National Intelligence Service, The Nairobi Fire Brigade, The National Disaster Operations Centre, Acting Interior CS Fred Matiang’Iand even the internationally reputable auditing firm KPMG of conspiring against them.

As in the case of the ballot printing tender, NASA has provided absolutely no proof or evidence for any of these claims and just moves from accusation to accusation in a scorched earth policy which leaves almost no Kenyan institution untouched by his scandalous claims.

Nevertheless, Kenyans should read the judgment from the IEBC case to understand how accusations and spreading hearsay does not mean there is any evidence at all.

We Kenyans, who represent the court of public opinion, should act like the Court of Appeal and demand hard evidence for those claims or dismiss them outright.

The next time NASA accuses an institution of corruption, attempted rigging or other perceived foul play, our immediate reaction should be to ask for proof.

We know in campaign season lots of things are said to gain exposure and hold the agenda, but we should not let our politicians step over the line into delegitimizing our entire national institutions. As in a criminal court of law, they should be considered innocent until proven guilty and the burden is on the accuser to prove beyond doubt their claims.

So far this has not been the case in any of NASA’s many accusations. They have not presented a shred of evidence against anyone, let alone anything that would stand up in a true court of law, as the Court of Appeals aptly demonstrated.

The Court of Appeal’s judgement should become a watershed moment in these elections, shrouded as they have become by flying and specious assertions.

NASA’s credibility took a heavy knock with the ruling by the Court of Appeal’s decision and their statements should now be viewed with heavy cynicism, especially those meant to delegitimise the electoral system.

Trust is a vital element to be gained by any leadership aspirant. Sadly, this latest escapade which harmed our democratic process, cost the taxpayers money and allowed for a distraction from the important issues ahead of the August 8 elections.

NASA should concentrate on running a positive campaign to present a vision to the public on why they should vote for them, because up until now there has been precious little of this from them.

Mr Murkomen is the Elgeyo-Marakwet County Senator