Elections are about trust, the absence of which leads to chaos

Let’s reverse the situation and assume Wafula Chebukati had announced that Raila Odinga had won the presidential elections last August 8; how would the Jubilee side of the spectrum have reacted? I guess the reaction would have been exactly the same. Uhuru Kenyatta would have gone to the Supreme Court. The problem with the electoral system is not so much about systems or how perfect they are.

It is all about trust. Raila Odinga decided to withdraw from the October 26 election inherently not because he is really concerned about the systems; they are difficult to perfect. Remember the US presidential elections that brought Donald Trump to power? There were lots of hullabaloos in America as well about how the elections were rigged. The same went for Al Gore versus George Bush junior in the year 2000. In America the aggrieved parties accept and move on simply because they put their country ahead of their interests. The elections in Kenya shall never be perfect. Only when we start developing trust for the institutions then shall we have faith in the outcome. It is not just about IEBC; Kenyans simply don’t have trust in any institution.

Lost trust

We have simply stopped trusting ourselves. Recently, I decided to drop an application for a government position after having lost the elections last August. A friend asked whether I had prepared enough cash to bribe someone at the President’s office. We Kenyans are therefore not honest to ourselves, simple! Like a mad person, we do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We can’t expect to have credible elections but fail to tackle corruption. The processes will always be compromised if integrity issues are not addressed!

The reasons for nullification of the presidential results remain. If the elections are to be held on October 26, my guess is that this will again end up in the Supreme Court. The possibility for nullification is again with us. This has a root in our confusing legal system. The presidential election petitions are conducted on the parameters of the constitutions but also preceding rulings in previous presidential election petitions. In Kenya, the rulings from the Raila Odinga petition of 2013 can now be used to determine the outcome of any petition. In that petition it was determined that in the event of a repeat poll and candidates happen to be only two, then in the event of a withdrawal by one candidate this might lead to postponement of the election. I will leave the legal arguments to the constitutional lawyers but your guess is as good as mine, Raila Odinga must be having something up his sleeves. It would not make rational sense for him just to drop out of the race without any strategy.


Therefore, where are we headed as a country? I believe we need to come together as a nation and make a collective agreement on which way we should go. The future cannot be left to noisy politicians. All players have a contribution to make. A national dialogue is required to ensure that we make our people start developing trust in our systems. A new social contract needs to be developed. French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his 1762 treatise pleaded for a social contract where sovereign power lies with the people. In his treatise he decried the idea that only the ruling class and the monarch should determine the affairs of the country.

Our constitution has of course illustrated that sovereign power lies with the people but the reality is the people are not fully informed about the processes of the elections etcetera.

How many ordinary Kenyans have understood what a “server in the cloud” means? The arguments in the NASA versus Jubilee petition were being discussed in light of legal and technological jargon that the voters have not really understood.

My office assistant recently amused me when he requested me to assist him to meet Raila Odinga. I asked him ‘why’ then he said ‘I want him to show me where I can buy the computer that produces chicks’. That made my day and also illustrated how confusing the whole saga is to our people. Maybe we should just resort the mlolongo voting system, at least our people understand that very well. Elections are about trust above anything else.

Mr Guleid is former Deputy Governor, Isiolo County