Why there's huge anxiety in Kenya Kwanza

Daisy Maritim
President-elect William Ruto(right), Musalia Mudavadi (left) and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen confer when they met for the first time since elections were held at the president's official residence in Karen. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

There is discomfort in the Kenya Kwanza camp. The apparent awkwardness and discomposure is precipitated by three things; the impending election petition by the Azimio la Umoja coalition, the mounting criticism on President-elect William Ruto a week after the contentious results and the non-celebratory mood that has gripped the country.

The first cause of unease for the yellow brigade is best distilled in a proverb; ‘those who bear the weight of guilt run even when no one pursues them’.

As it is, Kenya Kwanza is running, and running fast. Even faster than Gladys Shollei ran out of the tallying floor at the Bomas of Kenya after being accosted for suspicious activity involving adulterated form 34Bs. But thankfully, as Kenya Kwanza is running, it is being pursued.

Hot on its heels is a petition to be submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, August 22nd the Azimio coalition. Through frenzied online and media surrogates, Ruto’s camp appears hell bent to deter the Azimio coalition from seeking to redress the electoral wrongs Kenya Kwanza committed. Which begs the question; why agitate against a provided for constitutional process, if you are assured of your ‘win’.  

Why attempt to deter or influence a process not only perfectly legal but also democratically beneficial? Additionally, why the impatience? The constitutional timelines around the submission, hearing and deliberation of a presidential petition are capped at just three weeks.

Unless of course, it is Kenya Kwanza’s good understanding that three weeks in politics can change the course of a country, the immediate fate of a ‘would be’ president and the destiny of a people.

The second point of Kenya Kwanza’s discomfort, is the sharp criticism around President-elect William Ruto’s overtures in wooing independent legislators and MPs from rival political parties. What he anticipated would be an astute political move, is backfiring.

It is not lost on the people that this exercise bodes ill for the future of our democracy. Let’s put it into perspective. Barely two weeks ago, Kenyans turned out in their millions to vote for their legislators largely because of their political affiliation. And now, even before they are sworn in, they have shifted party loyalty.

At the heart of it, this quick consolidation of power by the President-elect is a sign of desperation. A sign that UDA did not win the election fair and square. They are trying to manipulate the court of public opinion so that they reinforce the perception of victory and nationwide consensus.

But what is more concerning is that these current arrangements of convenience are designed to morph, not into coalitions that support democracy, but that co-opt and suppress any dissent. Voters feel conned. They feel a degree of injustice since their choices have been disrespected and their participation in the election process was in vain.

That is precisely why the framers of the 2010 Constitution in articles 103 and 194, inserted the rule that an MP or MCA must resign office, if they leave the party for which they were elected on.

The fact that the President-elect has done this shows either his disregard to the letter and spirit of the law, or as Martha Karua puts it, gross ignorance of the law.  

Finally, Kenya Kwanza’s anxiety is premised on the lethargic public reception of IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati’s hurried announcement of William Ruto as the winner. Where endless and vibrant celebration was expected, there were only brief joyful noises, followed by uneasy silence. But even worse, there is a wave of political sorrow sweeping the nation, shrouded by a cloud of electoral illegitimacy.

The writer is a political analyst and PhD student. Twitter: @daisymaina7