The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has announced the winner of the October 26th repeat elections that was boycotted by the opposition NASA today. It took four days after the ballot was closed before IEBC could confirm unequivocally the turnout of that exercise.
The Chairman was flip flopping; one minute announcing a percentage only to negate himself on his twitter account. He explained-on twitter that, “The 48% was a BEST estimate turnout from the team.” And that actual figures from 267 constituencies show 6,553,858 Kenyans turned out to vote.
Interestingly, President Uhuru, the leading candidate had garnered well over 7 million by Sunday and the chairman was at pains to explain how the candidate’s votes had surpassed the turn out. The bump in numbers he explained was the unannounced constituencies-again, this was difficult to level with the country.
The IEBC Chairman, Wafula Chebukati, finally announced the president-elect and deputy president-elect with a 39% voter turnout.
As one lawmaker once said following the bungled August 8th polls, in Kenya voting is not a problem; we just can’t count. It appears the same is true even in the repeat October 26th elections too. Some have even jokingly suggested that Bomas should be renamed Bodmas because of the many formulas applied.
IEBC isn’t the only important institution struggling with independence. The Supreme Court that was the country’s last option as the defender of justice suffered a blow on the eve of elections after Judges absconded their duty over flimsy reasons leading the Chief Justice no option but to cancel the hearing over a quorum hitch after five of the judges were a no-show.
The dissenting judgment by Justice Njoki Ndung’u has been cited as an indictment of the apex court in the sense that it is not free of politics. The judge attacked colleagues in her judgment prompting former Law Society of Kenya (LSK) CEO, Apollo Mboya to file a petition with the Judicial Service Commission over her conduct. If there was a rift among the top judges then the abdication of duty on the 25th confirmed it.
Never mind the police service is also under scrutiny after opposition and human rights watch groups accused it of using extreme force on those demonstrating against the government. To this point, nearly two months later the Inspector General can’t conclude any investigations on police brutality.
What then should we do as a country when there is a perception that independent institutions are out to serve those in power? The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) that was supposed to facilitate healing in the country has been accused of playing politics rather than pursuing their mandate.
The Directorate of Criminal Intelligence (DCI) and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Offices have equally been accused of working under instructions of the politicians in power rather than for the good of the public.
Right now temperatures are high and some politicians are trying to make it a tribal issue saying only Luo Nyanza -a term many people from these region are beginning to dislike- as the only problem. The fight in Kawangware as confirmed by CS Eugine Wamalwa and other Luhya leaders who held a press conference to denounce it was largely between the Kikuyu and Luhya living in the area. But the Deputy President insinuated on an international broadcast that it was militia ferried from Nyanza.
Let us not lose sight of the issue at hand by trying to label one group as this or that.
In our observation, this is not about the Luos or the Kikuyus or the Luhyas or whatever tribe a politician and other ignorant arguments. Our voting pattern has often been on ethnic terms but to interpret it as simply about this tribe and that tribe wanting power is to be simplistic.
This fight is about those who want democracy proper with truly independent institutions and those who want an idea of democracy but prefer to rule as monarchs. The fight is about those who want proper structures in the country that can be respected by all and those who want what looks like a structure but can be bent to the will of the politician.
If we can’t have proper democracy and our institutions can’t work independently, and seeing as political interests are always competing with national interest then perhaps it is time we abandoned the unitary state and try federalism.
Let every county come up with their set of laws and institutions that can work in their interest while having a central government checked by the national Parliament. We can’t keep fighting every five years over a situation that is likely to be unresolved. It’s time we had a sober talk about another system of government. The current system of government has failed in Kenya!