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Trust at the center of 2017 polls

By Yvonne Okwara | January 9th 2017

We are exactly 7 months to the second election under the 2010 constitution. Election observers will tell you that the pre-election season is just as important as the post-election environment. History has taught us this.

So where are we today, just 7 months to the election? We are haggling over amendments to the electoral laws. We don’t have commissioners at the electoral management body, even though we are pretty close to sorting that out.

We are debating over which to use between the manual versus electronic systems. Debating this in parliament and even on the streets, to the extent that many Kenyans are more confused about the process with some thinking that we will vote electronically.

We have allegations of hate speech against a community by the majority leader. We have a bill sponsored by yet another Jubilee MP planning to give Kenyans the right to arm and defend themselves.

All this while the minority side is mulling going back to the streets over the amendments made in parliament. 

Meanwhile, the ballot paper printing tender is subject to a court process and has been halted, thanks to a lawsuit by CORD. The wrangles in parliament have left the procurement of electronic equipment in limbo.  The audit of the voter’s register is being contested.

Voter education is yet to begin, and even when it does, the pool has been so muddied with views from either side, that it is difficult to see whether there will be room for any neutral information. This is no place to be 7 months to the election.

I do not want to be fear monger, neither do i want to believe the words of former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who said the drum beats of post-election violence are beating. But it is easy to see that we are not in a good place.

One thing’s for sure, whether manual or electronic, whether you have Wafula Chebukati, or an angel at the helm of IEBC, the two sides will continue to bicker over what is best for the August 8th poll.

This is because the issue at the heart of all these arguments on our election is one thing; Trust.  

Even Kriegler observed as much in his report on the 2007 elections saying, a system is only as good as the people that operate them.

The one thing that will make this a credible, free, fair and peaceful election is trust. That seems to be a very expensive commodity these days.

That’s my take.


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