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Regardless of petition outcome, we have a country to protect

By Njogu Barua | Published Fri, September 1st 2017 at 00:00, Updated August 31st 2017 at 21:57 GMT +3
Supreme Court of Kenya Judges

SUMMARY

  • Kenyans must never plunge this country into anything near the 2007/2008 madness
  • We must never take elections as a panacea to all our life's struggles, but as a route we use to achieve some of our socio-econo-political aspirations
  • The outcome should also pave the way for electoral reforms ahead of the 2022 general elections

The tension and anxiety is palpable. The minds of Kenya's political consumers are pregnant with expectation and some feel the Presidential petition outcome is just what they have been waiting for to radically change the course of their lives.

I can see armed security personnel walking up and down the streets, perhaps ready to curtail any move by a Kenyan angry at the petition outcome to breach peace and tranquility. The unease is a product of plausible information that reactions to the judgement by some Kenyans can hit the rooftops. It doesn't have to get to this.

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This poll petition may have meant a lot to many Kenyans, but the most important fact and reality is that Kenya will still be there for us to live in after the judgement. We must never allow an electoral process, in which every Kenyan had the democratic right to make a choice, tear this country apart.

It is my submission that Kenyans must never plunge this country into anything near the 2007/2008 madness.

This country is yet to fully recover from that year's violence and the scars, both emotional and physical, are a stark reminder that we must never be captives of the fight for power.

By the time the judges are done reading their legal opinion on how we made our choices on August 8, many hearts will be broken. After the judges make their decision on who carried the day on August 8, there will be tears of joy and tears of anger; the former from "winners" of the case and the latter from "losers".

The legal fact that this poll petition must have a winner and a loser is enough to make us reduce our emotional input into the whole process. An acknowledgement that the election process is just one way in which we seek to make this county a better place to live in is a huge asset.

We must never take elections as a panacea to all our life's struggles, but as a route we use to achieve some of our socio-econo-political aspirations. We would give our nationalism a big boost if by now we start thinking hard about the invaluable lessons that we can learn from this electoral process experience.

The lessons will greatly aid us in crafting future processes that will be fool proof and whose implementation will give winners who attract no litigation.

As a growing democracy, we are on an electoral reforms path which should ideally guarantee justice and sustainable peace in the fullness of time. By the time we are out of this monumental process, we would badly need provisions that make subversion to the people's will by way of the ballot serious criminal offences.

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It does not just have to start at the general election; we should start at the primary level of political party nominations. This country has leaders out there whose rights have been violated and denied a chance to lead due to unpunished impunity perpetuated by political party functionaries.

By the same token, there is a big section of citizens who will be denied their right to able representation by virtue of bungled primaries. Peace and stability are key components of a democracy like ours and it is events such as the Supreme Court decision that hugely determine how sustainable this peace is.

Peace and nationhood would best be served in an environment that has upheld justice for very citizen. My submission is, therefore, an appeal to all Kenyans of good will to consider the petition outcome as a new avenue to re-engineer our electoral processes as a tool for sustainable peace and stability.

We ought to desist from holding conservative views on who should possess power, rather we should put more emphasis on the ability of wielders of this power to transform this country in all spheres of life.

We ought to see the opportunities that will emanate from the electoral jurisprudence and maybe see if we could handle such challenges in future in a better manner.

This desire for justice should not be restricted to the Presidential contest. It should go down to lower seats as these are also an integral component of our political fabric as a nation. By fixing all the gaps that exist to sabotage effective realization of the people's will, we shall, in essence, be raising not only the quality and standards of our judicial system, but also of representation.

As such therefore, the Supreme Court judgment should not be seen through the prism of winners and losers. Rather, it should be treated as yet another milestone towards the making of a nation.

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Further, I believe the outcome should also pave the way for electoral reforms ahead of the 2022 general elections.

Dr Barua is a governance and an entrepreneurship expert

[email protected]


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