The Swahili have a saying that when foolish men become wise, the wise fall into trouble. In Kenya we can safely admit that the electorate has become wise and our politicians are in trouble. The coming August poll will be a shocker for many pundits and ordinary folks alike if these nominations are anything to go by.
Firstly, the narrative that Kenyans, particularly from Central Kenya were apathetic has been quashed after voters turned up in their thousands to nominate their party representatives. Secondly aspirants close to party owners have been floored. In some counties like Nandi, Kericho and Kiambu nearly all incumbents have been replaced from the governor to the Members of County Assemblies (MCAs).
While the primaries have been largely shambolic and chaotic, it is important to note and commend the vigilance demonstrated by the electorate. Voters refused to be deterred or submit to the mind games by those attempting to discourage them from electing the leaders they wanted to represent them.
That key allies of opposition leader Raila Odinga, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto were rejected resoundingly in ODM and Jubilee primaries is a signal of Kenyans increasing democratic maturity. Moreover, that a Luo clinched the Jubilee party ticket in Kiambu – a Jubilee zone – a primarily Kikuyu region, is a statement that Kenyans are seeing beyond the divisive tribal politics we’ve been fed every electioneering year.
Nonetheless, the job is far from over. Surprisingly individuals who previously occupied public office and have been adversely mentioned in corruption cases made a comeback through these nominations. Kenyans need to embrace a new value system, public office is a trust so why nominate or elect corrupt leaders yet expect different results. Isn’t it time, we the electorate supported the work done by frontline vetting institutions like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)?
Sadly, the courts have in the past made some disturbing rulings on matters relating to integrity which have only served to either dilute or create confusion of the standards set in Chapter 6 of the Constitution. Mzalendo lauds the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights (KNCHR) move to seek an advisory opinion from the Supreme Court on the application of chapter 6 on all public officers – elected and appointed.
Political party leaders too are failing the democracy test when they attempt to rig in their preferred candidates thereby undermining their members. The disorganized primaries across the country are likely to result in very high number of independent candidates. In the same spirit that has been demonstrated in these nominations we hope the electorate will continue red-carding candidates rigged in by their parties.
Meanwhile, the National Commission and Integration Commission (NCIC) should step up as we draw nearer to the August polls. Politicians are openly engaging in dangerous speech that could destabilize our country. Again, the judiciary is once again at fault having cleared those arraigned in court over hate speech despite overwhelming evidence. It’s time the Chief Justice whipped his team to stand on the right side of history. We can’t have politicians captured on camera inciting people to violence or openly bribing voters only to be acquitted on flimsy grounds. The Judiciary should stand shoulder to shoulder with other key institutions to defend the Constitution in its spirit and letter.