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Reason together to avert a looming crisis over elections

By Kamotho Waiganjo | March 4th 2017


We will not have an election in August. I could ask you to take that to the bank but then I would be the next one in court for plagiarism. We need to wake up from our collective slumber and recognise that we are in crisis that won’t just go away. We can then have a rational discourse on the options available, how to achieve them for the good of the nation.

One can already hear the hypocritical blame game and drumbeats, blaming IEBC for this and the other. While some of the crisis has IEBC’s fingerprints, they are only a peripheral player in our national mess. The journey towards no elections in 2017 started with the CORD-initiated IEBC riots last year. The protagonists then negotiated a reform package that included the appointment of a new Commission, completely disorganising IEBC chairman Ezra Chiloba’s polls roadmap.

If the Windsor consensus had been implemented within the agreed timelines the Commission would have been in place by September 30. The audit of the register and procurement of elections material would have been done by November and we would have managed to hold some fairly credible elections. The political games in Parliament and the circus around the appointment process however delayed the process.

Not only did the new Commission land in office four months late, several court matters have put a spanner in the works so that critical components of the election process have been delayed beyond the point of redemption. Some of the court decisions are staggering in the casualness with which they treat this critical matter.

Courtesy of these court orders and related shenanigans, five months to an election, the tender for preparation of ballots has been cancelled. That and the tendering process for the ICT components of the elections have had to be started afresh. The audit of the register has been stopped. That audit was to be the first step in the preparation of a register, which is due in two months. I believe that behind many of these delaying actions are people who have no interest in the elections.

Let's look at the principal actors in the election process and their appetite for an election in August. The opposition is not ready for an election; do not be cheated by any bravado. The NASA thing is good for drama and ego building but enough suspicions of subterfuge exist to make it easily unravel. It needs to be nurtured a little longer to build sufficient trust so that all the principals and their electoral luggage are carried along.

The Jubilee coalition has its own challenges, including the ramblings in the Rift Valley. The coalition wouldn’t mind a few more months to get it’s house in order. By the way the only person who I have heard several times sincerely reject the possibility of postponing the election is President Uhuru Kenyatta. On this I believe he is literally alone. Every other elected politician would give anything to earn a few more salaries. Most Kenyans also wouldn’t mind some few more months of electioneering, it is the only time they are treated with honour and money from the city is poured into villages.

Putting aside who is to blame, we know from the state of preparedness that if we insist on holding an election, it will be shambolic. This will lead to inevitable war, especially at the counties where the gubernatorial elections have elicited explosive contests in which inconclusive results will mean trouble.

As much as I detest the idea, does it not make more sense to agree on a realistic future date to hold the elections? Then make such minor changes to the Constitution as will facilitate this? Do we have to generate a constitutional crisis? Or do the conspiracy theorists who believe this is the game plan so as to facilitate the construction of a fresh coalition government have a point? I pray that the better angles of our nature will cause us to reason together and circumvent a looming crisis we may not have the wherewithal to handle.

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