This is the last Saturday of 2022. We made it, thanks be to God. This last column of the year is an opportunity to celebrate those that made a difference in our communities and country.
It being an election year, the bouquets and barbs are this year dedicated to persons who were involved in the elections. My first bouquet goes to the IEBC as an institution. In the heat of disputed presidential elections, it is easily forgotten that this much-maligned body undertook over 46,000 mini-elections in far-flung villages in Kenya.
The logistical infrastructure required to pull this off is like executing a war. And while IEBC has made numerous mistakes in previous elections, the quality of the polls has improved over time.
You will not know this from those who lost. Instead, review the elections petitions over the years and you will note that fewer elections are being nullified for IEBC’s malpractice.
In this year’s Presidential election, the entire world was impressed that results were posted in the public portal from day one and that these results tallied with those finally announced. Chairman Wafula Chebukati and the thousands of unsung heroes, including the choir that braved the Bomas chaos, may your tribe increase!
The second bouquet goes to the voters. Firstly, they downplayed the traditional issue of tribe but instead voted across the board for diverse candidates. Hon Raila Odinga got the highest number of votes he has ever received in Mt Kenya while President Ruto was made president by the Bukusu and Mt Kenya votes.
Secondly, the voters in these elections rejected the proposal to “fight the stolen election”. They voted, went home and once results were announced, despite the very small margin between the winner and the loser, continued with their lives. Receive our hearty appreciation for your maturity!
The final bouquet goes to the seven women who were elected governors, a large jump from the Zero in 2013 and three in 2017. For those of us engaged in politics, we know what it takes to win such a momentous election. Yet you braved it, refused to accept the verbal assaults by our myriad misogynists and finally carried the crown.
You have no idea how that speaks to “valid dreams” for many little girls all over the Nation. Keep the torch burning and ensure that Professor Maathai’s counsel that it is the anatomy above the neck that matters rings true by the way you govern and empower the people.
The year would not be complete without a few barbs. The first one naturally goes to those who broke the law so openly during the campaigns. Public resources including the security forces were openly misused for partisan politics. Civil servants openly campaigned for politicians despite laws that prohibit such conduct.
Across the political divide some politicians used violence and intimidation in their campaigns. They remain condemned even if they were allowed to act with impunity. The second barb goes to Members of Parliament who have refused to pass the Campaign Finance Regulations so that we can tame the influence of money in our politics.
Having watched several elections, I am convinced that unless something drastic happens, only the very rich will be able to buy their way into winning elections. Elections in Kenya are way too expensive with all its pollutants in our leadership. While the campaign finance law is not the silver bullet, it will at least put the issue on the national discourse and limit its current excesses.
But parliamentarians, who are the greatest abusers of this lacuna, will have none of it so we remain without a legal framework to manage the scourge. Shame. The final barb goes to the politicians who won and immediately forgot the myriad promises that got them elected.
Our increased voter apathy is courtesy of your kind. While it may be impossible to fulfill all election pledges, a leader worth their name should have the courtesy to go back to the people and explain the challenges, not just hang around waiting for the next season of fake promises.
May your tribe become extinct! Finally, from me and my clan, we wish all my readers a blessed 2023.
Bouquets to you!
-The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya