In exactly three days we hold the much anticipated 2017 elections. I wish all the candidates well, this has been a grueling season for you, expensive on the pocket and punishing on the body and soul. As we head to this important day in Kenya’s democratic calendar, mine is to issue several bouquets and barbs to those that have acted with honour and dishonour this season.
My first bouquet goes to the IEBC. People easily forget that this Commission only started work in 2017 after their predecessors left in ignominy. This team had one of the steepest learning curves for any organ with a mandate of its kind anywhere in the world. And while it has had many missteps, most were externally generated, resulting from time-pressure and the dysfunctionality of our system. In an environment of numerous court cases, maximum suspicion and myriad “they will rig” allegations, Mr Wafula Chebukati’s team has somehow managed to obtain and retain an above-threshold quantum of trust and will no doubt deliver an election that six months ago looked impossible. To Chebukati, Mr Ezra Chiloba and the entire team, despite the loss of your senior officer at a critical time, we urge that you keep up the spirit and deliver a credible election.
Rejecting six-piece suit
The next bouquet goes to the Kenyan voter. Despite being let down year after year by politicians, the Kenyan voter has an amazing faith in the electoral process.
This voter came out and registered even though many nay-sayers had anticipated a depressed voter registration. The same voters came out in their thousands to nominate their favourite candidate. Where the nominations were rigged, the voters have clearly shown their preference during the campaigns, many rejecting the preferred six-piece suit. The voter looks determined to come out and vote on the 8th and to ensure the electoral process is free, fair and peaceful. This, dear voter, is your country and on its behalf, I hand you a deserved bouquet.
The third bouquet goes to the Judiciary. In the last one year, more than a hundred election related cases have been submitted to the courts, some filed as late as this week. Some of the matters have gone to the very heart of the electoral process and some even threatened to derail the elections. Even where one may disagree with some of the Court’s decision there is no doubt that the courts have given all parties a hearing and granted fair decisions within reasonable time, allowing us to continue to have faith in the judicial process, something unimaginable only 10 years ago.
Now for the barbs. The first barb must go to our politicians. While it is acceptable to use all means necessary to seek votes, many politicians have excelled in fear and hate mongering, unnecessary discord, and violence peddling. They have felt no shame in exploiting misfortunes for political gain. Nothing to the politician is sacred as long as it gets an extra vote. Shame on you, mheshmiwa.
The second barb must go to the Kenyan social media community. There is no better way to lose faith in Kenya than to visit social media. All the nuts seem to have departed the woodworks and landed in Facebook, Twitter and similar mediums, hurling epithets, babbling inanities and peddling trash. The anonymity of social media brings out the worst in us. Who can imagine that an adult of sound mind would post mortuary-derived pictures to make a silly political point? Only God can forgive some of you.
The third barb goes to the religious community. As I have gone round in various campaigns I have been disappointed how absorbed in partisan money-driven politics many religious organisations have become. The same greed for money, the same sectarian partisanship has infected the religious community so that it is no longer the light on a hill. For this, you hereby obtain a barb.
To my readers, by the time you read me next week, we will have a newly elected government. Whether it is the right government will depend on your vote. Stand up and be counted this Tuesday.
- The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya