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Why embrace losers after every election?

OPINION
By Gerald Kithinji | January 5th 2021

NASA supporters during Raila Odinga’s mock swearing-in at Uhuru Park Nairobi in 2018. [File, Standard]

For Kenyans to develop they must teach their political leaders a lesson. We have witnessed several attempts by senior members of political parties to dethrone leaders whom they consider to have overstayed as party supremos. Ford Kenya, ANC, Wiper and NARC are the most prominent. Why should a leader be the sole party candidate at every election? It stymies the growth of that party. Furthermore, it creates false bedrooms, strongholds, bastions, and treats voters like cows.

We have two critical examples. Donald Trump won certain states in 2016 and expected them to vote for him in 2020. It didn’t happen. Raila’s party, ODM, won Msambweni in 2017 and expected to win the by-election in 2020. In both cases, those expectations were dashed. Raila won certain constituencies in 2013 and expected the same in 2017.

Such candidates treat voters as if they are robots who, once programmed repeat the action over and over again, which, if it were so there would be no need of election campaigns in those constituencies. It leads myopic candidates to blindly charge that there was rigging, their votes were stolen or they were not counted properly, without grounding those charges with evidence.

Certain candidates then fuel animosity, violence and intransigence. Then, to assuage the embittered failed candidate, the state starts mulling over a way to accommodate them in government. In other words, the candidate uses violence to usurp power that rightly belongs elsewhere through handshakes and such like manoeuvre.  The country suffers, tourism plummets, services are neglected, time is lost and the country’s economy declines. The people suffer. But the failed candidate lives to repeat the same scenario again in a few years time with similar or worse consequences.

In some cases, constitutions, which have worked years, fall or are amended beyond recognition, depending on the tenacity of the opponent and gullibility of the winner. It has happened right in front of our eyes. To avert this and secure the future of our children, we need to examine or re-examine our law regarding violence and our political morality and rectify them. We owe it to them. Let us not shun our responsibility.

If we want our parties to grow, no run-up in a presidential election should run more than twice if he does not actually move up the ladder. Otherwise, the candidate will be claiming that his votes were stolen and assuming those who voted for them last time will be waiting to vote the same way again, and again.

Donald Trump has been churning inside and outside, with over 50 lawsuits trying to prove that ‘his’ votes were stolen because he does not accept that the people, or even himself, changed their choice. Raila has been doing it since 2008. He might do so again. We don’t know.

The battle for strongholds, bedrooms, backyards, my people instead of the electorate, all these are the catalysts for violence. Not the presence or absence of a prime minister, and deputies. Not once have I heard that violence broke out because the president will take ‘everything.’ The president takes what he finds in the constitution, not ‘everything.’  Do Kenyans want a president without a job to do? Do they want a Deputy President who will be idle for five years, while we employ a prime minister and two deputies to do their work? Let’s be serious. You apply for a job, you do it. When you apply to be a cook, you cook.

The way people are marketing the prime minister and deputies implies that there is a five-year carousal and our son or daughter must join it otherwise we secede. Kenyans should be told if that is the case. The US President works with his V-P and represents over 300 million Americans for four years. If they do a good job they get four more years. The President of Brazil and his V-P represent over 250 million Brazilians.  Britain does not even have a Deputy Prime Minister since 2017 for her over 65 million population. India has a Prime Minister and Deputy but the President is non-executive for over 1.353 billion population. Then a tiny country of less than 50 million people wants to be represented by highly paid and highly garnished Prime Minister and two deputies beside the Executive President and Deputy! Are we crazy? Maybe we should lower the term to four years.

And the reasons given for this extravagance are mundane man-made problems of failure to obey the law like everyone else simply because they are candidates who have a following that they can mobilise to create chaos.

No one should threaten the whole game and call on his followers to threaten others because they lost. The people played their part and are at all times entitled to peace and tranquillity whether a loser is happy or not. And if the people do not give you the jackpot be satisfied with what you get.

-The writer is a veteran lawyer

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