Conceding a loss shows maturity in Kenyan politics

Will a day ever come in this country when public officials who drop the ball take responsibility for their ommissions or commissions?

Elsewhere in the world, officials apologise or resign when found to have goofed. Not on our side of the world. Here, we will make excuses, shift blame and try to downplay the fault as much as possible.

How often have officials failed in discharging their duties but still remained put, even when their integrity is called to question? Even when, for instance, their actions have led to loss of public funds within their dockets? Yet, they have felt nothing, insisting that death would be a more welcome option, instead of resigning from the high office. “The buck never stops, it goes on,” is their mantra.

No wonder, as it happened in the recent suspension of elections in some counties and constituencies. No responsibility was up for grabs with everyone who should have picked it up instead dashing in the opposite direction at top speed. The head of the body responsible for running elections even tried to shift the blame to the ballot paper printers, who are the ones to accept the mistake — as if there were no structures for quality control. Others insisted that the team needed to be cut some slack and even congratulated since the rest of the process had gone on with a few hitches.

Yet, the buck ultimately stops with the election managers, who have one job to do but still did not miss an opportunity to cock it up. And the job is to have the entire election, not parts of it, running perfectly well, to deliver a fair and credible outcome. That the mix-up was made public on the eve of the elections says something about how that particular part of the task was handled.

Imagine the disappointment and inconvenience this may have caused the candidates and the voters, which should be sufficient reason for responsibility to be taken by the people in charge. Imagine the distance that might have to be covered again to exercise their democratic right to cast that vote or the additional resources that aspirants in these areas may need to mount different campaigns.

Maybe we will ultimately get to a point where officials taking responsibility for their actions when they fall short will be a lot more commonplace in future. That when balls are dropped, people will be stepping forward as enthusiastically as they do whenever things go right to collect credit.

For instance, who knew there would be a time when election losers would openly, publicly and proactively concede, even before the final result is pronounced? The default response by candidates has always been to insist on the victory, claim to have been rigged out, and go for it by whatever means possible – whether it involves causing mayhem or heading to the courts for determination. Remember the prominent citizen who reportedly admitted to considering landing a slap on a candidate who was contemplating a concession?

Not this time round – men and women who have fallen by the wayside in the general elections are stepping forward to voluntarily concede and wholeheartedly congratulate the winner. It almost feels surreal.

Of course, this is not too good for the legal fraternity that was waiting for a windfall but is definitely a step in the right direction for our society. Like the wise men of yore aptly put it, whoever does not accept to lose is not a competitor. Accepting defeat is part of any competition.

Besides, the unorthodox ways that losers have reacted to the election outcome in the past have led to the loss of property, deaths and injuries.

Thus, even for the business of responsibility, a day might come when we change our mindsets and embrace it. As for the election managers, the country only hopes that after more pressing matters are dispensed with, we will still revisit the suspended elections, for closure. Someone has to take responsibility.

— @butunyi

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