Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Which way Kenya 2013 and beyond?

A month from today, 4th March 2013, what will Kenyans celebrate in a costly General Election that will be just have concluded?

One- if we perhaps get the right figures announced after the hard lessons unlearned from the election of 2007 gone awry – we shall celebrate that at least technology can reduce vicious human tendencies to steal power. The failure of technology here could  mean total darkness for on it our democracy hangs.

We shall be using an electronic system of voting for the first time, something that I remember insisting on after seeing how votes were not counted and how a document of the time called Form A 16 was not returned as the law required. I had some Forms 16 A found discarded by polling agents.  We hope for the best. Perhaps it will be the first time in history that every tally will be correct.

But many people failed to register as voters in 2013 due to mistrust of politicians. Many still feel wounded by the killings of 1 133 persons that followed the 2007 General Election and the sudden being turned into IDPs overnight, for another 600 000 Kenyans. Many women were raped and tension became explosive between different ethnic groups. Kenya, some of us said would never be the same again. We had let greed for power reach levels which left the message that anything can be done to get power. Rape. Kill. Steal. Burn.

So unlike the national inauguration of Mwai Kibaki in 2002 when Moism was defeated and all celebrated, the swearing in of Kibaki in 2007 was a dusk affair. Present there some politicians who had defended his take as winner of the election to the hilt. These include politicians that again Kenyans have showed they will never trust for that betrayal. Whatever they have tried to do or get into as office has been rejected by Kenyans for they feel that they did not stand with them at the nation´s hour of trial. 

But that seems to apply more keenly to a former Minister of Justice, a woman, who now gets 1% support in presidential polls. Strange this remains the case even as a large vote is commanded by Uhuru Kenyatta who supported the Kibaki win and who is along with William Ruto and others summoned, no, indicated, a word not so light in law am reminded, by the International Criminal Court for the violence that ensued in 2007.

At that time Ruto was working with Raila Odinga in the Orange Democratic Movement. What makes these get support but not the other is perhaps based on personality and charisma. The two since they are summoned by ICC have kept on declaring their stand. The woman candidate did not take this as a matter of importance after so many people kept on saying that she needed to clear her name. She has been a legislator for many years and she helped draft the Political Parties Bill and many others in Kenya.

It is very clear that we did not follow the Political Parties Bill when it came to the nominations during the primaries. We modified it to suit our own poor tendencies to hop into a new party when defeated in one´s own party. What are political parties in Kenya at the time? In truth, they have never really been serious. People leave them and those with power buy them like clothes in order to have a platform.

The National Alliance (TNA) now contesting the elections was bought not so long ago from a politician to another and re-launched as a vehicle for Uhuru Kenyatta to clinch power. But we are looking at what and why we will celebrate post 4th March 2013. How we shall feel and react after the election.

This might be the first step in taking elections to the level where the votes will always be counted right but much remains to be proven. Why and how have some people been judged with regard to the violence of 2007 by Kenyans since they are offered red carpet reception wherever they go? What explains the voters behavior in sticking to them? They say only two things. Money and the ethnic block size in their support. Fame and history might also be in the mix. But to be president in Kenya, one will need a simple majority of all votes cast in the country as well as a majority in half of the 47 newly Counties. So, it appears if we can say who is president on the 4th of March, we shall have truly overcome many obstacles. That might be a great celebration. Those who represent the Counties and Constituencies will be seen in the light of the president they supported. Different peoples of Kenya will watch carefully to see who of their children get rewarded with senior positions. Many will fight to get national jobs. Favours will be returned. Sometimes qualifications will be shunted aside to repay campaign monies and they say this is so in many a land.

Two. Judging from comments I read in the media both traditional and social, most people will be glad that at last the season of electioneering is over. "It has been too much!" We say.

There are many people already wishing that voting had been over and done with. The Constitution which was adopted in August 2010 stipulates that General Elections be held on the 14th day of August every five years.  August was named because many people found elections in December when they used to be held interfered too much with end -of- year celebrations. December holidays were rendered into grueling and tiresome days during election campaigns. Candidates have always been in terms with the idea that campaigns begin immediately after an election but not so the people. The result is that many say Kenya is over politicised. Other matters need attention. But so far I have not seen anyone asking for any ministerial public accounting, balance sheets and statements. It is assumed that the Permanent Secretaries will be there in another form and shape and will find out why nurses, lecturers, public transport operators, doctors and so many others went on strike in recent times.

 Kenyans are weary of the money and energy expended in elections. That it is not repaid in service is nothing new.  Many are fed up of the greedy politicians that always make it back due to bribery of the voters with a little money here and there. So third maybe Kenya celebrates the rejection of some former legislators, some of which they had buried symbolically before the election, but some of them will be back for quite some years. No smiles. 

Fourth and very important: There will be some who will be celebrating the win of especially their presidential candidate the closest to getting into State House being Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. And just as these will be celebrating, the losing team will be smarting but I hope not fighting over the results as in December 2007, for this time nobody can say that Kenya does not have a competent -even if threatened- Judiciary system to resolve any differences that might arise.  Article 87 Electoral Disputes in our constitution promises that petitions can be filed 28 days after the election except in the presidential case of presidents when a petition is filed within seven days. We have a judiciary worth celebration.

 Why would we be saying the Judiciary is not up to the task when so many have argued that we could even try the suspects who have been summoned by the International Criminal Court in our own courts since we are up to the mark? It begins to get dark here.

 Kenya will apparently be a very happy country to live in because the winners in this race might also be the very people that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is interested in trying. This will mean seeing a head of state who has claimed that he is so clean proven so before the whole wide world.

Uhuru Kenyatta who in his Jubilee team with running mate William Ruto have been implicated in the violence that rocked Kenya in 2007 after the last General Election we held. The Constitution of Kenya 2010, Chapter 6 on Integrity was cited as reason why Uhuru and Ruto should not have vied for the presidency but it was superseded by their own reasoning and that of the Eugene Wamalwa, Minister for Justice, who unlike his predecessor Mutula Kilonzo, declared the two fit to run for office and in fact belonged to their team for the presidency too. We need they say to have youthful leadership in Kenya. Wamalwa, Kenyatta and Ruto are seen as youth. They are in their 50 Jubilee decade.

Uhuru and Ruto, also referred to as Uhuruto have always declared they are innocent and do not need trial first to prove their innocence. They set out to work to contest for the highest office saying that if the ICC summoned them after the election, they could run the country via the internet. They belong to the Jubilee Alliance.

If their team wins versus the CORD whose presidential candidate is Raila Odinga, then there will be a mood of  victory clearly tinged with the honest realization that a legal process of no simple nature awaits them. Many have said that they are using Kenya as shield since if elected they can always ask how  so -if they are so likeable and electable- could they also be so criminal as to have made Kenyans chop one another with machetes. The ICC has its evidence. Everything will be pegged on their professional and uninfluenced work. If declared innocent, Kenyans will have only lost, so they say a little concentration on running the country. Kenyans will be celebrating again, the power of the internet. Wow! The first country to be governed online will be Kenya. She has firsts you know too, in marathon running. And an old motto that said Yote yawezekana bila Nyayo ...All is possible without Nyayo, the nickname of Moi who insisted that Kenyatta Jomne had done such a sterling job in leading Kenya that all we needed was to follow his nyayo footsteps. He so believed this that he turned Kenyatta Uhuru, the son of Jomo into a politicians whose little footsteps were worth enlarging into those of a president. Uhuru had Moi´s support for presidency in 2002 but he flopped. Now he apprently does not have it for Moi sees it this time as tribalism, but the job is done. Uhuru believes Kenya cannot do without him at the helm.

We will be lucky to get a Kenya that grows no matter who of the two : Raila or Uhuru win. For that will depend so much on how the losers submit themselves to the winner and work hard to knit a nation split by the votes into one. For growth as we saw with Kibaki is not only about the economy but about Kenyans remaining united. But as of now, the signs for that are non –existent.

Many times the words exchanged between the two teams -Jubilee and Cord- have not been words that make Kenyans proud to be one nation. What will happen after one side wins? And to complicate matters more there might be no clear winner and then there will be a run off and as polls show this will be between Odinga and Uhuruto.

Will the people of Kenya really then rest from electioneering? It has been almost three years of tight racing. If the Odinga side wins, then will there be less action towards having Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto tried at home in Kenya?

There are a number of people writing to say that Kenya Election 2013 is a cursed vote. Damn it if you go this way and damn it if you go the other. But does Kenya deserve this kind of situation in her 50th year after independence and if not why are we here?

When Kofi Annan and the team of Eminent persons helped Kenya come together in 2007, there was an agreement that the coalition government of Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki would implement an accord which included Agenda 4. This work was slow. If it had been done we would not be in that where the majority speakers of one language and of one region seem to be wooed almost to a man as they say and this time to a woman to vote in their tribal king again. 

I think that many Kenyans have realized that one of the great things to celebrate on 4th March 2013 is that President Mwai Kibaki, third president of Kenya from 2002 – 2013 will have left office. He spoke at length in the last national celebrations about his great achievement in giving the people of Kenya a constitution in 2010.

But we know that it is the people of Kenya who fought for this constitution. We also know that he had favored in the referendum of 2005 a document - Bomas Draft- which was voted out by the people, leaving his government embarrassed. He then proceeded to plant the biggest roots of tribalism Kenya has had since colonial times.

Mwai Kibaki sacked Raila Odinga, Mutula Kilonzo, Kalonzo Musyoka and others who opposed the Draft Constitution from their ministerial positions. The leadership of Kibaki failed Kenya in 2005 for we did not need him trumpeting his take on the constitution and having Awori, the late Michuki, the late Njenga Karume in a Mount Kenya block that was opposed by ODM as his team. He was not president of Central Kenya but of Kenya. He did not need a kitchen cabinet from his own area. He did not need to fear the views of the late Wangari Maathai (and others from Central Kenya who opposed him) because she could traverse borders in thought but he shunned her and her ideas.

 We did not need the sacking of a whole lot of ministers from mainly all communities except Central Kenya because Kibaki had already reneged on the Memorandum of Understanding which was seen as swindling Raila   and his supporters who again would end up seeming to be mainly from Nyanza and therefore as Central Province versus the rest of the country. This is how vicious tribalism ended up being the worst enemy of Kenya today.

And this bridge had been crossed when Raila Odinga campaigned for Kibaki in 2002 and said Kibaki Tosha! Kibaki is capable! Such trust has never been shown to other ethnic groups by Central Kenya leaders of old. The so called younger ones should have been our bet. But no. Uhuru Kenyatta perpetuates this old dichotomy between the people of Nyanza and those of Central Province.

Bringing the two communities together would have been one of the greatest legacies he could have given to Kenya. The same applies to Raila. But as far as we know, none of the two are even campaigning in the so called other´s block. We are entrenched in tribal voting. We have been unable to close the chasm the British left between the Gikuyu and the Luo in 1963, a divide that one Harry Thuku of Kenya in 1922, had bridged as he tried to get the Kikuyu Association to work with the Kavirondo Association of Nyanza but was stopped in his tracks by colonial masters. Beyond 2013, Kenya will need to open up to leadership that defies Kenya´s historical track.

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