“The greatness of any Nation lies in it’s fidelity to the Constitution, and adherence to the rule of law – and above all, respect to God” Chief Justice David Maraga.
These very words preceded the annulment of one of the most expensive -if not the most expensive- elections in Africa last Friday. A decision that many have hailed, across the globe, as a watershed moment for institutions in Africa. Although majority of Kenyans from across the political divide applauded this decision, it still did receive, and continues to receive, its fair share of criticism especially from Kenya’s President Uhuru and his Jubilee party.
This election process has brought a number of items to the fore, but two remain of particular interest. The first being the role of religion in politics, and the second being the role of international community in Africa’s democracy.
Religion and Politics.
When Jubilee party and its supporters were on the campaign trail, they will insinuate a couple of times how it is God who will deliver victory for them. That it is God who chooses, and that they already have a memo of who has been chosen. When Chief Justice David Maraga started the Supreme Court hearing on August 26th, the hearing had to commence from 7pm – since during the day, as a staunch Seventh Day Adventist, he had to observe Sabbath. When the Supreme Court decision was finally made, with Justice Maraga stressing on respect to God, Opposition’s NASA would celebrate and equally hail the decision as God’s doing. Now, I’m not knowledgeable in theology, but this clearly should raise concern among the Christian folk – who happen to be the majority in Kenya, and also the culprits in this web.
Christianity in Kenya seems to be a total failure. The need to follow the footsteps of Christ, to love humanity, to be just and truthful, and to respect fellow humans has already gone down the drain. The only relevance Christianity seems to have today, is the ability to make one rich. Anything goes, including peddling corrupt politicians at the altar.
But one rational constant – in this relationship between Politics and Religion – remains the ability of Politics to use Religion to its advantage. In the 16th Century, Niccolo Machiavelli would advice rulers on how to use, and if need be, manipulate naive religious folk in order to secure their rule. Citing instances on how the ancient Roman religion was instrumental in securing and advancing the Roman Empire. In his letter to the Prince of Florence, Machiavelli would emphasize on how religious coercion can be a great tool of maintaining political power.
Politics and Religion in Kenya needs to be re-looked at again – much cannot be dissected in this column. But Christians have to REDEEM themselves in this – they don’t have any option. Everything else remains food for thought.
The International Community and Africa’s Democracy.
If there is one individual so far who has received his fair share of criticism – and counting- in Kenya’s ongoing 2017 elections, is one John Kerry. Former US Secretary of State. After the voting had concluded, and tallying began, the opposition NASA led by candidate Raila Odinga would raise concern about the streaming in of results. But Kerry will proceed to make his worst statement in Kenya so far -under the Carter Center banner. That, “The people who voted were alive. I didn’t see any dead people walking around” And that the “the opposition should get over it and move on” since according to him the election was free, fair and credible. Never mind the Electoral Body hadn’t even declared the final results.
For starters, allow me to take you down recent historical path. Ten years ago, Kenya went through it’s worst election, marred by malpractices and bloodshed. Myself I was relatively young, still in high school. But nevertheless, I was Politically awake. Citizens queued. Long queues. Some in straight, others in curved or even zigzag. And they voted PEACEFULLY. “Without dead people walking or trying to get in the lines” But the problem arose during the tallying, transmission and announcement of results.
It is this problem of tallying, transmitting and announcing of results – together with the identification of persons – that heavily influenced Kenya’s high costs of conducting elections. While a Country such as Tanzania will spend an average of five dollars ($5) per voter in an election, or Uganda four dollars ($4) per voter, Kenya will spend an upward of twenty five dollars ($25) per voter during an election. Why? because of vote tallying and transmission. So, an international observer observing elections in Uganda, should be alive to the fact that Uganda and Kenya are not homogeneous – even though they share a border. And that an election process should be looked at in its entirety.
The Product is as Good as the Process.
Looking at the scrutiny report ordered by the Supreme Court during the petition, one will not fail to observe two items that would cast doubt on 2017 elections – which the supreme Court ruled to be marred by irregularities and illegalities. That, as the Court ordered the electoral body to allow READ ONLY access to its servers, so as to ascertain that the logs provided actually originated from the said servers, the electoral body was unable to comply. That, as the Court ordered for the GPRS location of KIEMS kits be provided at the time of sending scanned form 34A’s to ascertain the locations at sending, the electoral body was unable to comply. The same form 34A’s that the electoral body was trying to figure out where they were – way after declaring the results. The same forms the lawyers ended up battling in Courts which were legal, and which should ‘pass as legal’
From the onset of the petition, the petitioners didn’t focus on trying to demonstrate that Uhuru was rigged in, or that Raila was rigged out – the focus was trying to get the Court to answer the question, “Was the electoral process legal or not?” To which the Court answered that electoral body ‘failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution and inter alia the Elections Act….” A change of tact to traditional petitions which rarely see the light of day.
Back to The International Community.
Immediately the lead European Observer Mission arrived in Kenya, the first statement made was in relation to prospects of violence. So, throughout the election process, it seemed, that they would focus most of their efforts in trying to persuade the opposition not to react to anything. They were ready to let anything go – as long as the opposition didn’t react. This, to an extent in which they didn’t observe the actual violence taking place. The obsession was on citizen versus citizen form of violence – which never took place. Instead, only poor citizens were meted with police brute violence to the extent of infant ones, as little as six (6) Month old baby losing its life.
This begging the question, was the exercise meant to observe a democratic process, or just influence – through their posture – whatever outcome? This bearing in mind interest that lead observers and their Countries of origin also have with respect to the African Country being observed.
Having been actively engaged in civic engagement and education, especially to young people of my age during this election period, I can confirm that young people in Kenya were and still are, not ready to fight each other irrespective of their political divide. They claim that they are too hungry to do so, and they would really want to be done with this election process as fast. Majority are not much obsessed with who wins the presidency (apart from a few sycophants here and there) – but the obsession with a sizeable majority is that the election be free, fair and credible regardless of who wins.
Kenyans are very assertive politically, and one of the reasons young people from both political divides are interested in a credible process, is because they know too well that it is only a credible process that will one day make a son or daughter of a peasant farmer -who doesn’t come from the current crop of moneyed elites – President.
And that credible process begins now – thanks to Chief Justice David Maraga.