SECTIONS

Before we crucify Wafula Chebukati, let us find a balance in available evidence

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati is whisked away by security officers and the clergy after chaos erupted between Azimio and UDA leaders at the auditorium, Bomas of Kenya Aug 15, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

In honour of the evidential ideals that birthed this column, today I shall wear the shoes of the devils advocate. Since the election on August 9, the aftermath has been over analysed both in mainstream and social media. Lawyers of high societal standing have publicly differed on basic concepts of law and interpretation of the Constitution on matters elections. However, shouldn’t the learned friends draw a professional line from partisan interest when discussing emotive political issues on live TV? 

Given the precarious political environment we are in, this article risks also been interpreted within the different political lenses. But not to speak to the known facts and available evidence is cowardice and gross negligence of our civic responsibilities and obligations to the nation. The truth never departs from its course.

But before I proceed, I have to make some material disclosures. First, I presented a candid analysis for both the Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza campaign manifestos separately on this column. Secondly, throughout the entire campaign season, I never invested emotionally nor affiliated physically with any of the campaigns.

On the balance of available evidence this far, I present my considered view that ‘the Raila Odinga of 2022 candidature’ may have made fatal electoral miscalculations and/or is grossly misadvised on the implied petition to the Supreme Court. However, this must not in anyway be misconstrued to mean that, as a candidate and the Azimio la Umoja political formation by extension, should drop their constitutional right to seek redress and justice.

If this view offends anyone based on their political persuation, please feel free to stop reading at this point.

Calculated deception

To put things into context, let us refer to the events of Monday afternoon, when it was alleged that things went horribly wrong at the IEBC to fatally discredit the entire presidential election outcomes. Based on this, it is easy to carry an audit trail to appraise not only the election event itself, but also the entire process. In this analysis, I bypass the legalistic pre-suppositions for obvious reasons.

Minutes to the declaration of the presidential results, four IEBC commissioners disowned and distanced themselves from the results their chair was about to announce at Bomas of Kenya. Their reason was because the final process was ‘opaque’, whatever that means. At what point they sneaked from Bomas to Serena Hotel and with whose assistance remains a mystery.

With that, the four were inviting a highly tensed nation to: completely forget seeing them at Bomas for six days and nights and having read to us tallied and collated constituency presidential results for at least 264 of the 291 constituencies; crucify their chair, the other two commissioners, the CEO and entire staff providing technical and administrative, without any evidence; believe their word as the only gospel truth.

They invited the nation to view and treat them as four angels in a kingdom of demons. We are to treat the other commissioners and staff as agents of evil in a heavenly kingdom called IEBC. In all fairness, how is the nation supposed to cleanse one camp and vilify the other without any persuasive evidence? Why should we believe only their version of truth and ignore the statement later issued by the chair?

Unlike in the social sciences, mathematics is a science discipline capable of providing absolute and non-contradictory results. At things stand, nobody doesn’t know that the 100.01 per cent logic and any extractions around it is a legal nullity and delusional at best.

Balanced evidence

The question then shifts to the process and systems around it. So far, I have not heard any legal opinion contrasting the fact that the will and intent of the voter can only be inferred at the polling station.

We could borrow from the accounting discipline the primary values of accountability, objectivity and verifiability. For accountants, the sum total of these values mean that given the same source/primary document and facts, an independent party must be able to arrive to the same conclusion. They call this the book of original entry. In case of suspected fraud or malpractice, audit trails the facts as stated in the source document/book of original entry.

In the 2022 presidential election, that book of original entry is forms 34A for each of the 46,229 polling stations. Ultimately, for any petition to hold water, it must prove the final tally that announced the president-elect was different from what is captured in those records of original entry.

To contemplate anything else beyond this is simply to invite the court to fertile imaginations. Independent observers, Elog, have since confirmed striking consistency with IEBC results from close to 1000 sampled polling stations. All other observer missions have confirmed the same.

Many questions remain open for debate, but with a constitutionally declared president-elect, it is safe to evaluate the campaigns and consequential events that might have impacted voter behaviour. For starters, it is obvious that voter behaviour in this country is first and foremost localised. It wasn’t different in 2022. In Mutomo and Mugomo Primary School polling stations where President Kenyatta and Azimio deputy president Martha Karua voted, Ruto won by margins of 2:3 respectively.

He was very competitive in Old Kibra Primary School where Raila Odinga voted and swept away all the bigwigs in the vote-rich Mt Kenya region. In all other vote-rich Raila strongholds of Lower Eastern, Coast, Maa community, Western region and Nairobi, Ruto either outperformed expectation or did better than their joint ticket with President Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017. Both formations universally suffered from low voter turnout. Based on simple probabilities, how possible is it that Azimio won against Kenya Kwanza given these facts?

Self-audit

More importantly, was ‘the Raila Odinga of 2022 presidential candidature’ the same as the ‘doyen’ of Kenyan politics? Can we objectively ignore the burden on his campaign from his dalliance with the Jubilee administration that now even insiders agree has dismally performed on issues facing Wanjiku? What about the baggage of the collapsed BBI that was quite unpopular?

On campaign strategy, Azimio team hoarded together in all their campaigns while Kenya Kwanza spread their teams across regions by deploying local kingpins. What impact did this have if our politics are still local? The elephant in the room is the question of the invincibility of the mystical ‘Deep State’. While its existence is well acknowledged, there is overwhelming evidence that in some occasions, the hoi-polloi still beats them in their own game. More fatally, the Azimio luminaries sustainably stroked a dangerous religious characterisation of their main opponent. Religion is not only a very emotive societal issue but also very personal to the individuals.

Finally, two questions that only Raila can answer bother me: One, has Raila the enigma been idolised to the extent that he is deprived of an honest and candid advice or to the level that he won’t listen to it, even when given in good faith? Two, could the Raila of 2022 be hostage to political and commercial interest vested in his candidature? Many a political careers and commercial investiture will sink with him if ultimately he exhausts the legal options available and not emerge a winner. Has he considered this risk and the damage that this might have to his stature as a statesman and a champion of democracy?