30 years of nomination shenanigans; this is Kenya

Gem MP Grace Ogot Addressing Teachers and parents at Nyawara Chief's Camp in September 1985 [File]

Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the ride. The season of chaos has started and will climax in 12 weeks’ time when all aspirants vying for various seats are expected to have been cleared by the electoral commission.

One of the key dates is April 8, when politicians seeking to fill 1,883 elective seats are supposed to have been cleared.

On December 9, 1992, one of Kenya’s pioneer women leaders, Grace Ogot — who was contesting on a Kanu ticket — had gone to present her credentials to the Electoral Commission of Kenya to be cleared to contest the Gem parliamentary seat. She got a rude a shock from supporters of her rival, Oki Ooko-Ombaka, who was vying on a Ford Kenya ticket.

In her hurry to escape the mob, she lost one shoe and was quite a sight when she appeared before the electoral body limping.

It was a day of national chaos and shame. On the day, police fired live bullets and tear gas canisters to disperse fighting rivals, Ford Asili’s Michael Ndambero and his wife were abducted, robbed of Sh250,000, detained in Marigat High School in Baringo and their car set on fire.

In Murang’a, Kanu Secretary General Joseph Kamotho was also attacked and had to flee for his life after he was accosted by opposition supporters.

Down at the Coast, long-serving politician Francis Bob Tuva, who was defending his Malindi parliamentary seat, was disqualified. Tuva, who had represented his people since 1963, was vying on a Kanu ticket but was knocked off the ballot by returning officer Godfrey Ndenga who gave no reason for his decision.

On the same day, 12 Kanu candidates were ushered in unopposed even as Ukambani supremo George Ndotto rescued his political career miraculously after his credentials were accepted just minutes to the deadline.

Some of the fortunate MPs who were elected unopposed included Willy Kamuren (Baringo North), Joseph Meri (Baringo East), Samson ole Tuya (Narok South), Henry Kosgey (Tinderet), John Sambu (Mosop) and Paul Titi (Aldai).

This was one of the most competitive nominations the country had in a long time and was also among the most violent. Police had to create buffer zones to separate different candidates when they met at ECK offices to present their papers.  

The era of MPs being elected unopposed after rivals failed to turn up is long gone but chaos still mar nominations during which epitaphs for unconvincing incumbents and aspirants are written and careers dumped into political graveyards.