Kenya has some cleaning up to do, avoid falsehoods that create poll tension

A long moment of threats, intimidation and occasional silence followed. Throughout the barrage of words from the armed intruders, we all remained quiet. Soon tension was growing outside as crowds gathered.

The youth began arming themselves with stones while shouting; "Akina kale wamevamiwa". The chief realised that soon he would have to deal with a whole angry estate population. Fuming, he threatened to come back with a bigger force.

Dirty games and evolution of the electoral system

The Kenyan electoral system has undergone a major evolution. In 1974, candidates couldn't be elected to Parliament without an election symbol.

Kanu had total control and cunningly locked out those considered hostile to the party. Party symbols to be used for the elections would be kept secret and only be revealed at the eleventh hour to the candidates the party wanted knocked out.

The late President Daniel Moi when he announcing the scrapping of section 2A of the constitution at the KANU delegates conference at Kasarani allowing multi parties in Kenya on December 03, 1991. [File, Standard]

When it came to a candidate popular with Kanu the DC would pause at the same spot and continue counting imaginary voters. He would then declare him the winner.

During the queuing, those who garnered more than 70 per cent of the "standing votes" were declared winners. More than 50 per cent of the Kanu die-hards were elected to parliament through this dirty system. At the party nominations in February 1988, only Kanu members were allowed to participate. The rest of Kenyans were expected to vote in the national poll in March.

Mlolongo achieved its key objective of cleaning up Kanu. The then government critics; Martin Shikuku, Charles Rubia and Kimani wa Nyoike were among those thrown out. Vice President Mwai Kibaki who survived by a whisker in his home turf is popularly remembered to have angrily said that; "even rigging required some intelligence". He was soon dropped as Moi's deputy and appointed minister for health.

In 1991, Moi appointed a Kanu Review Committee to investigate the party's internal electoral and disciplinary conduct. The committee chaired by Vice President Prof George Saitoti traversed the country collecting views and opinions from citizens.

Recommendations by the Saitoti Committee led to the 1991 repeal of section 2A of the Constitution of Kenya, allowing the reintroduction of multipartyism. Kanu initiated internal changes as it prepared for the first multiparty elections in 1992.

Opposition politicians-initiated campaigns to sell their democratic agenda. Sparks of violence started to light up embers across the country. Politically instigated violence broke out in Nyanza and Western Kenya. Meanwhile, Kanu launched the Youth for Kanu92 (YK92) to promote the party among the youth. Money was poured in millions of shillings to buy support.

The time of Zacchaeus Chesoni

Moi had appointed brilliant lawyer Zacchaeus Chesoni to take charge of the electoral management body, the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), to preside over the 1992 general election. This was Kenya's first multiparty election.

The late Samuel Kivuitu. [File, Standard]

The 2002 elections were peaceful and forceful. That year, I voted with a smile as I recalled the lunchtime intrusion by armed APs. Samuel Kivuitu declared his friend Kibaki President-elect and presided over a chaotic swearing-in ceremony at Nairobi's Uhuru Park.

Kivuitu settled well in office and started preparing for the 2007 general election.

During election season, some political players love filing cases in courts to influence commission operations. Some court pronouncements are made too close to election date, affecting the commissions preparedness. Wafula Chebukati argues that: "It is imperative that amendments to the electoral laws are conducted at least two years to the election date...."

Kenya has a lot of cleaning up to do. The country needs an election environment devoid of intimidation and profiling. We need an environment that quickly stops the spread of falsehoods during an election year. Falsehoods can be a recipe for tension, unrest and chaos.