The handshake has divided Jubilee and decimated Opposition

Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in as President of DRC on Thursday after the Constitutional Court endorsed the result that the Electoral Commission had earlier declared. However, genuine reservations about the outcome remain as leaked evidence from the same Electoral Commission reveal that Martin Fayulu had five million votes stolen from his tally. According to that leaked Excel Document Fayulu got 60 per cent of the vote and not surprisingly that figure corresponds exactly with what the Catholic Church established after tallying the results from its 40,000 observers. 

The African Union (AU) as well as France and South Africa had earlier expressed strong doubts about the outcome and there were many calls for a recount. However, the ‘accept and move on’ viewpoint spread like a pandemic and most countries sent representatives to the swearing in although Uhuru Kenyatta was the only head of state to attend. Stability takes priority over electoral justice in what we all can recognise as a familiar narrative. This continental trend of accepting disputed results and tolerating ballot theft will very soon destroy democracy as voters realise that their vote does not really matter. Other factors frequently determine the winner. 

However, the decision of Raila Odinga to tweet that the DRC people had spoken and ‘their choices were affirmed by the relevant institutions namely the Electoral Commission and the Supreme Court’ took many by surprise. Many speculated as to whether this was also an endorsement by Raila of the judgments of the Supreme Court in Kenya after the disputed 2013 and 2017 General Election. 

Almost one year after the ‘handshake’, however, nothing is clear anymore and everything is a strong shade of grey. The bonhomie relationship between Raila and Mr Kenyatta is about the positive result of the March 9th handshake. How or what they agreed and where this relationship is going is anybody’s guess. Most however are so relieved that tension is reduced and that the business atmosphere has improved that they care less about the politics of it. 

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But when a private agreement is presented as the basis of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that has as its objective to unite the country then the public deserves more information and involvement. Everywhere folk are questioning the motives of BBI since some key figures were excluded from the outset and then invited later as an appendage. This can hardly be the basis for inclusivity in an honest, cohesive exercise. 

The whole talk has quickly moved from that of peace and nation building to demanding a referendum. The ruling class or at least the handshake proponents want a referendum but none of them is telling Kenyans what the question or questions will be. Critical observers are already suggesting that the BBI has a predetermined outcome and that the referendum question is only one and that is the creation of a Parliamentary System to replace the current Executive one. Besides, the motivation appears to be to create jobs for the boys – no girls – so that the current crew can enjoy the same privileges and powers for the foreseeable future.  There is little talk in any forum of electoral reform or justice for the victims and survivors of the 2017 election violence. Not a word about implementing the TJRC.

This may well prove an erroneous and cynical analysis but in the absence of clear and inclusive benefits from the handshake then suspicions will abide. What has emerged to date is that the handshake has merely divided the ruling party and decimated the opposition. That is not something to be proud of. Is that a worthy outcome and where is this leading to? 

There is a notable disquiet in the Rift Valley and that is understandable if not excusable. That needs to be addressed prudently and positively otherwise we just replace one political conflict with another. The absence of an opposition in Parliament is an injustice to the voters and is leading us back to the dark old days of the one party state and a single narrative on all matters. Dissent is almost viewed as unpatriotic anymore and rational, informed people of conscience are sidelined or inconspicuous. 

The handshake has led us to unfamiliar but mostly unhealthy territory and we must tread with caution. The creation of a Super Minister just confirms that we have an extremely weak and incompetent Cabinet. The time is ripe for something new to emerge out of the confusion for the handshake has too much of an unhealthy grip on the country at the moment.

- Gabriel Dolan [email protected] @GabrielDolan1

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Felix TshisekediDRCAfrican UnionUhuru KenyattaHandshake