IEBC faces real threats in the timelines but there’s no need to panic

Posted by on 30th September 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

The report by the joint team on electoral reforms chaired by Senators KiraituMurungi and James Orengo that saw electoral reform laws passed unanimously in both Houses gave Kenyans the much needed impetus to regain their trust in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) at a very crucial moment. But those efforts now seem to be under threat.

IEBC officials have expressed fears of failure to meet key deadlines especially linked to procurement processes to obtain equipment necessary for the poll. Citing their strategy paper, the electoral commission admits the task ahead is likely to be difficult because of strict deadlines set for the allocation and distribution of polling stations as well as managing the acquisition and implementation of technology.

This is quite a blow considering the Ipsos poll commissioned by the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) on September 18th revealed a disturbingly low confidence level in IEBC’s preparedness to handle the 2017 elections.

Perhaps we should briefly re-visit the challenges in last general elections to understand the gravity of the matter. Kenya nearly succumbed to another post-election violence (PEV) in 2013 after IEBC experienced challenges with the technology on display. Subsequent investigations later pointed out late acquisition of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), poor training of the IEBC staff handling the technology, including Electronic Voter Identification (EVID) kits.

In the 2013 General Election, the failure of the electronic system meant to transmit results was a major debacle that informed IEBC’s decision to go back to a manual system. That we never learnt from this and are facing the same challenge yet again is a debate for another day, but first things first. Majority of the electorate in Kenya hold unsubstantiated myths about the management of the upcoming elections that need to be debunked.

One of them is that we shall be having an e-voting system. That’s not true. Voting will be done manually, and the electorate should therefore have no reason to mistrust how the voting exercise will be undertaken. Technology will be used to only aid the process and not replace it. The technology employed will be used to register, identify voters and eventually transmit results.

Secondly, there are fears that there’s little that has been done to prevent changing actual results, especially presidential votes. According to the new law, results, including presidential will be announced at the constituency level, however national tallying of results from all constituencies will be made by a returning officer appointed to carry out the process in the required format.

Now that we’ve made sense of that, IEBC needs to quickly prioritize their activities. That the law allows for political parties to seek their services does not mean they have to abide, especially when it is clear their plate is quite full. But if they must preside over party nominations then they should be firm on the timelines. While the law says the Political Party shall submit its party list to the commission at least 45days before the elections, IEBC can in light of the glaring challenges, inform all Political Parties intending to have them run their elections that they will only be able to manage those elections at an earlier period to avoid what is now referred to as a logistical nightmare for the electoral commission.

As for the acquisition of new equipment, the main challenge really is demarcation of roles of the Secretariat versus the Commissioners. The Secretariat’s function is administrative and indeed procurement falls under that. Anything else is politics unless the integrity of the Secretariat is also in question. IEBC should be able to make this clarification and work within the stipulated timelines while keeping all critical stakeholders briefed. Good-will of all arms of government especially the Executive and Parliament is vital to address the bottlenecks.

Having said that, it is too soon and rather knee-jerk for IEBC to want the new electoral reform laws amended to suit their challenges. It beats the whole point of reforms. Instead the presidency and the relevant bodies should speed up the exit of the Isaac Hassan team and have a new team in place soonest possible to mitigate some of these challenges.

 

Five ways to Block Corrupt Leaders from Office

Posted by on 22nd September 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

The American Writer Suzy Kassem is known for making this remark in one of her books that, “A system is corrupt when it is strictly profit-driven, not driven to serve the best interests of its people.” And no statement so aptly describes the mutation of corruption in Kenya as that. If you look at what is now commonly referred to as tenderprenureship in Kenya in light of this statement then you will see how corruption has metamorphosed. But is the situation hopeless? Certainly not; we can still slay this giant.

While corruption exists in many forms and is difficult to really rid it all at once. Nonetheless it’s easy to identify corruption in public places and offices, and that is where the fight should begin. If only Kenyans really cared about corruption more than their tribe and where power leans in government and other elective offices then the fight could have significant impact.

The best strategy to fight corruption is the period just before campaigns. The next 10 months before the 2017 election would be the ideal time if we meant business. If we get anti-corrupt leaders we’ll be on the right track to winning this war. Here are five ways to ensure we end up with leaders free of corruption.

First, Political Parties – those that truly have the best interest of its people – should only nominate or elect candidates who have publicly declared their wealth. The EACC should insist that the wealth declared include that of family members too; as that is how they normally dupe us-transferring wealth to their children and family members and thus avoiding public scrutiny. This should also be published and easily accessible for comparison when term ends.

Secondly, elected Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) should not under any circumstance transact with any county government because of conflict of interest. As for the MPs, Senators and Governors, the same applies, and including the national government. This should not only apply to commissioners of influential bodies like EACC but also all top government officers. This would greatly hinder corruption resulting from conflict of interest scenarios.

Thirdly, tighten academic requirements for elected leaders; particularly legislators. Law making requires a sharp mind. Mzalendo’s annual research on MPs performance in Parliament has revealed that quality of debates was higher at the Senate where majority have sound academic records. While there has not been a research to ascertain the quality of debates at the County Assembly level, media reports and constant wrangles among them including fist fights are quite telling of the dire situation. Anybody with money – regardless of how he got it – can run for elections; including a village idiot who inherited it. We should pay people for quality debates not the fights and appetite for corruption we see in the County Assemblies.

The fourth thing we need is to take Chapter Six of the Constitution which focuses on integrity seriously. Anyone who has ever been named in a corruption scandal should not run for office unless the said issue has been unequivocally resolved. Already individuals linked with the NYS saga and other grand corruption cases have declared interest in elective offices. If Kenyans were serious about Chapter six, they wouldn’t have the guts to make a public appearance in the name of campaigns anywhere on Kenya’s green earth.

Lastly, and perhaps one of the most important things Kenyans should do is to tone down on religion. It’s the ironically the gateway to thievery. As a person once cleverly described the situation in Africa; in Kenya people pray (read prey) before they eat (public wealth). Religion rather than standing up for the truth and justice has been used to propagate injustice and justify wickedness. Indeed as Phil Zuckerman explains in his book: Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us, religious nations are the most corrupt.

Let us not elect anyone based on how many times he can quote the Holy book or show his Holy ways. Instead, let us vote based on tangible track record – word and deed. Let us vote in people who mean what they say and say what they mean. People who represent Kenyans best interests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New laws will test the strength of our democracy

Posted by on 16th September 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

The 2017 general elections is already taking shape with politicians taking advantage of every opportunity where Kenyans gather to popularize themselves. It doesn’t matter if it is a burial, the dead can wait as they whip the emotions of the living. But the 2017 poll will be different because of the many laws that are expected to shape its course.

Since we shifted to multiparty politics in 1992, general elections have been characterized by rigging claims and complaints about its undemocratic nature. This gave impetus to what had already begun as the second liberation; a need to truly free the country from the anti-democracy forces. This fight has been bloody and many died in the fight for second liberation and others like Matiba ended up paralyzed.

Until recently the need to ensure absolute democracy was largely about individuals but the passage of important laws such as the Election Laws (Amendment laws) and the Election Offences Act that have shifted the weight from key political figures to institutions. With these laws Kenyans through the institutions mandated to implement them can demand for real democracy. The test nonetheless lies in the ability to implement these laws.

If the launch of the Jubilee party has proven anything, it is that political parties have a war chest of money to succeed in the coming elections, and it is almost certain that CORD or a new opposition coalition will respond in kind. This effectively puts on spot Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) assertion that they will cap the spending for aspirants and political parties. This was to ensure fairness among political aspirants and political parties. It’s still not clear how they intend to achieve this mammoth task.

Additionally the passing of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 removes the requirement that IEBC commissioners must be Kenyans. That is, foreigners can be appointed to the electoral commission. This is supposed to restore confidence in a section of the electorate that feels nationals are likely to be compromised. If indeed the team that will conduct recruitment goes for this option then 2017 poll will be the first of its kind.

Also the Community Land Act that was part of a number of bills signed into law by the president throws the spanner into the works considering how emotive land issues are in this country. Already a section of the opposition led by CORD leader Raila Odinga is calling for the implementation of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation (TJRC) report which looks into the issue of land injustices following the 2007/08 post-election violence.

In the months that lead up to general elections political aspirants dish out land to potential voters in a bid to win elections. In some cases, the squatters are duped and end up spending decades fighting with others claiming ownership of the same land. The Community Land Act therefore is likely to tame this menace because it protects community land from the activities of rogue politicians and allows for counties to oversee any transaction.

And that two lobby groups have sued the Attorney General, Speakers of both Senate and National Assembly over their failure to enact the two-thirds gender rule is something that changes the whole political equation. But as we await the court ruling on the matter perhaps the electorate should be advised that these problems are partly their fault. If Kenyans would trust women with leadership and elect them for office we wouldn’t need to have an affirmative action.

The 11th Parliament though failing short of passing the two-thirds gender law has done its best to ensure important laws have been passed to aid in strengthening our democracy. However, the true test and effectiveness of these laws and resolutions will be seen in the months leading up to the general elections. Will democracy have its way this time round?

 

 

Guest Blog: Capping Banking Interest Rates in Kenya: The Twists and Turns

Posted by on 9th September 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

By Bankelele

About two weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed off on the Banking (Amendment) Act 2015 introduced to Parliament by Jude Njomo, the Member of Parliament for Kiambu.

It among other things requires banks and financial insitutions to disclose all bank charges relating to a loan to a borrower, sets the maximum loan charge at 4% above the base rate, and requires interest to be paid on deposits at least 70% of the base rate. The bill also barred people from entering into loan agreements that exceed these amounts and penalizes bank executives and bank insitutions that contravene these clauses.

The move to rein in interests is a journey that has taken almost fifteen years.  It is not yet over yet. While the umbrella Kenya Bankers Association has asked its   members to adhere, about a third of the banks in Kenya have announced that they will comply, and the Central Bank of Kenya that opposed the Njomo bill has directed that non-compliant banks will face penalties, it is not clear how strong the bill will be if it is challenged in a court.

Credit for capping bank charges goes back to then Gem-MP Joe Donde who brought a bill capping potential bank interest and loan charges to an amount not exceeding the loan. His bill amended Section 44 of the Banking act, introducing what was known as the “in-duplum rule” and it came after a period of high interest rates, when people who borrowed modest amounts e.g. Kshs 1 million, found themselves owning the banks colossal amounts, e.g. Kshs 10 million, even after years of paying their loans.

The Donde Bill was cited as one of the greatest threats to banking in Kenya since the Goldenberg years, and one CEO said that retroactive implementation of the in-duplum rule, would wipe out many local banks.

But its’ effect was seen. It made some borrowers question their bank charges and interest rate calculations.  A Donde-related outfit, the Interest Rates Advisory Centre Limited (IRAC) was formed in 2001 and took part in several cases on behalf of borrowers who chose to verify or challenge these amounts of interest of finance charges levied by banks. The IRAC site lists many of them, noting that some cases were dismissed, and in others they got judgment for their clients, and in others, others banks chose to settled out of court IRAC declared that in the several hundred cases IRAC has handled so far, the interest charged by BANKS on loans, overdrafts and mortgages is wrongly calculated in more than 90%.

A few years after Donde, Finance Minister David Mwiraria reinserted the in-duplum in the Banking (Amendment) Bill 2004. While MP’s pushed for that, asking for the rule to be backdated to the 1990; former President Kibaki wanted it to start in 2004 but he in the end declined to assent to it due to the in-duplum rule.

Later on the government gazzetted the Banking Amendment Act (2006) which proposed to among other things, a ban on bank charges within savings accounts and also had the in duplum rule but which would not be applied retroactively. Along with the Finance bill of that year, new banking amendments were partly effected including CBK got to vet the suitability of bank owners, CBK got a deputy governor, banks were allowed to share non-performing loan data with the Central bank, others banks and credit reference bureaus.

Last month, in assenting to the Njomo bill, President Kenyatta noted that Kenyans are disappointed and frustrated with the lack of sensitivity by the financial sector, particularly banks. These frustrations are centred around the cost of credit and the applicable interest rates on their hard–earned deposits. I share these concerns. This is the fourth time that the National Assembly is attempting to reduce interest rates to affordable levels. In the previous two instances, dialogue and promises of change prevailed and banks avoided the introduction of these caps. In those instances, banks failed to live up to their promises and interest rates have continued to increase along with the spreads between the deposit and lending rates.

In signing the bill into law, President Kenyatta noted that he was aware that consequences could include credit becoming unavailable to some consumers and the possible emergence of unregulated informal and exploitative lending mechanisms.  But he went ahead regardless.

As it is the Act is poorly worded and very vague on what interest rate is the base around which the lending and savings rates are calculated. There is no mention about micro-finance lending, credit cards cooperative lending, mobile banking landing and shylocks – from which thousands if not millions of Kenyans borrow from every year.

Already the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), one of the professional groups that supported the Njomo bill, are reported to have asked Parliament to see if they can extend it to SACCO’s, MFI’s and mobile banking services. They said the law also needs to look at transactions charges and insurance charges at banks to truly protect the consumers from banks compensating for lost income through other high consumer charges.

Is this the end of the story? The court is still out.

Access to Information Law will Aid War on Graft

Posted by on 2nd September 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was quoted by African Arguments blog referring to the cartels promoting corruption in Kenya as protected. He insinuated that the law was also protecting these individuals. The blog quotes him saying, “You are taking these people [Cartels] into a corrupt investigating system, through a corrupt anti-corruption system, and a corrupt judiciary.”

This is quite a sobering statement considering only this week we had the chairman of the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission Phillip Kinisu offer to resign after failing to declare conflict of interest where the commission he heads was investigating the National Youth Service (NYS) supply scandal yet a company associated with his family is alleged to have irregularly supplied goods worth Ksh. 35million to NYS over the last three years.

With key institutions looking compromised Kenyans appear helpless against the huge dragon that is corruption; at least until now that the Access to Information Bill has been signed. Now Kenyans too have a chance at denting this beast. Indeed President Uhuru Kenyatta has finally given Kenyans a real chance at joining the fight against corruption by signing this Bill into law.

This effectively signals changes in this regime moving forward and any other regime afterwards for both government and the subjects. This is because both government and the people will be guided by principles of transparency. Transparency leads to a stabilized political system because informed citizens can tell propaganda from real issues and make informed decisions, and consequently reduction in tribalism because an empowered citizen is not likely to have his emotions whipped by politicians riding on tribalism.

Additionally, these principles will see a less corrupt regime because Kenyans through this Act are not only able to detect corruption but also unearth it where there’s suspicion by demanding relevant documents invoking this Act where there appears to be no cooperation. Citizens therefore can become active participants in enforcing accountability among public officers; something that has been elusive for decades now and indeed the reason why cartels thrive in Kenya.

The fourth estate that has had it rough trying to provide information; particularly investigative pieces that uncover corruption in both public and private sector now have their work cut-out for them. We can hope that the media will now give more credible factual and reliable investigative news stories courtesy of this new Act.

However, implementation of this law may still be hindered by pro-status quo politicians. Already it is becoming common in the region to shut down social media during election periods in the name of security threat. The government is also preparing the Computers and Cybercrime Bill that is feared will be used to deny people Access to Information through social media shut down, in the name of taming hate speech. We can hope the Commission on Administrative Justice can help iron out this issue.

Also, the seemingly subject political culture in Kenya where there’s heavy consumption of politics but little input in terms of public participation when called upon to give views on things like Bills before Parliament may work against the full realization of this Act.

There’s therefore a need for public awareness. A little civic education here can go a long way in helping Kenyans understand the power they now have under the Access to Information Act and how to utilize that power to become responsive, and engage actively in ensuring accountability within and without government.

Let’s Tame Rogue Political Parties and their leaders

Posted by on 26th August 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

The Swahili people have a saying that if you don’t seal a crack you will end up building a wall. True to that saying, if the electorate doesn’t act on the cracks the 11th Parliament is showing, building a wall will prove most costly. The 11th Parliament is keen on passing laws that only appear convenient to them. Consider the constant extension of Bills they should pass, like the gender Bill but don’t feel inspired enough.

Development that trickles down to the average Mwananchi only happens when we have a self-less leadership that is keen on serving rather than amassing wealth. However rogue legislators who fail to enact laws that promote civilization and party leaders that handle party affairs as their private affair are the cause of the problems bedeviling this nation. Kenyans must therefore seal these cracks for a peaceful and prosperous future and here is how.

To begin with, the blatant corruption experienced during political parties’ nominations causes many great candidates and legislators to lose to sycophants who have nothing to show except praises for the party leader. Indeed, this is why otherwise promising Politicians are joining the fight to maintain status quo in the form of party hopping. They have lost confidence in the parties that sponsored them to office and indeed their party leaders.

This is not Parliamentarians first strike though, earlier in the year they amended section 14 of the Political Parties Act that attempted to bring sobriety in terms of ideology and discipline with regard to candidates, and allowed themselves to ditch their parties at will. Yet, they could have embraced the proposal to quash party-hopping and utilize provisions in the Constitution that calls on parties to run internal elections free of influence from anyone including the party leader.

The Constitution demands that all political parties have an elected governing body. This is where politicians who mean well for this country can fix rogue party leaders by streamlining party nominations. If a party has a governing body that is above reproach then there’s no need to fear party elections. Additionally, they should rally their constituents to register as party members where their voice can be heard and their votes not auctioned by a few individuals in the party.

For the electorate, this is also why having a voter’s card and voting is not enough. Being a member of a party makes it easier for the electorate to begin the fight for good leadership right from the party nominations. By participating in party nominations and engaging in public agitation within the confines of the law to protest corrupt governing bodies that bend to the will of party leaders, the public has a chance to dictate the direction a party takes. Indeed a participant political culture is necessary if Kenyans are to enjoy the fruits of democracy.

The joint committee on IEBC’s attempt to deal with this political vice was met with unmatched rebellion. That the proposal was put forward in the first place is a testament that there are legislators who want to see a more coordinated and responsible politics. This is possible in the long term, if Kenyans join parties and get actively involved in how political parties are running their affairs in this country, otherwise elections will remain a rubberstamp for sycophants who get party nominations.

On the short-term, the public needs to borrow a leaf from the politicians and become self-interested in line with Article 1 of the Constitution which gives sovereign power to the people. First, register in the political party with the candidates that offer plausible solutions to the challenges you face as a Kenyan. Second, mobilize your families and friends to join your party and support your preferred candidates to ensure they get the nomination. Our chance to build the Kenya we want is now. Will you step up to the plate?

 

 

 

 

Are the Campaign Financing Limits Realistic – How Will They Be Tracked?

Posted by on 19th August 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) invoked Article 88 (4)(i) of the Constitution that allows them to regulate the amount of money that may be spent by or on behalf of a candidate or party in respect of any election through a Gazette notice last week. The announcement was made in good faith and with the view of creating, “…equal opportunity for eligible persons to compete in elections by not allowing money or resources to be a key determinant of the outcome” their statement read, only it does the opposite.

For starters the capping of the expenditure’s main goal is to discourage the corruption that elected officials engage in solely to secure their positions in the next election. In light of this argument, wouldn’t it have been prudent to cap the expenditure (at least for candidates) at half the total amount they earn for the entire period they are serving?

For example if an MP earns about Ksh. 1 million per month, then it follows that this MP makes Ksh 12 Million per year and therefore Ksh. 60 Million after his term. Assuming he or she is so frugal and was spending only half of his or her salary, then the MP can honestly (and this is quite a stretch) afford only Ksh. 30 million to run his or her campaign at the end of his term. In any case, does it mean if one doesn’t have money they should not seek a legislative post?

Accordingly, why should any candidate invest Ksh.432 million to vie for Nairobi’s gubernatorial position? Are Kenyans supposed to elect businessmen or servants? Indeed such a candidate will spend the better part of his term recovering the money he used during campaign at the expense of the county’s development agenda. Having said that, it is important to reiterate that what IEBC is trying to do despite the gaping challenges is quite necessary considering the place of money in Kenyan politics; more so during the campaign period. More often than not the poor leadership on display is usually because the best candidate was arm-twisted out of the ticket during party elections because they didn’t have enough money to impress the party.

The 2013 campaigns saw parties cashing in big on candidates hoping to get nominations. Majority parties were charging Ksh. 1 million for candidates challenging party flag bearer, Ksh. 300,000 and Ksh. 200,000 for Governors, Senators and MPs respectively. Interestingly, smaller yet visible parties also made a killing from the defectors who claimed they were rigged out of nomination from the bigger parties.

Furthermore cases of politicians facing blackmail from anonymous sources or companies that had contributed generously with the hope of favorable policies once the candidate or their party forms government have been rampant, especially after the 2013 elections. How does IEBC propose to curb these challenges? Wouldn’t it have been more effective to emphasize disclosing of the sources of contribution?

Going by the media reports about Jubilee, CORD and KANU’s lavish spending during the Malindi and Kericho by-elections how could a Ksh.2 million fine act as a deterrent for people wealthy enough to spend over a Billion in a single by-election? They will flout these rules with impunity and pay it off from their pocket change.

The negative role of money in Kenyan politics comes at a huge cost. It’s in very rare occasions that the electorate shamed the party and voted for the best candidate running on a smaller unknown party after unfairly losing nomination in their original party. This happens a lot with parties that command regional numbers, where a nomination is as good as winning the elections. That’s one of the reasons why politicians will pay an arm and leg to get the nominations. And that is why the electorate and particularly the youth and women must remain watchful as we approach the campaign season.

The youth who are most prone to bribery during electioneering period must decide if the dirty money is worth their future. Also, see the show of might by candidates for what it is; a gimmick. The argument that a rich candidate will not be corrupt is null and void. If the wealth was acquired irregularly then the reputation precedes him or her, period!

As the campaign season nears, politicians will use every trick in the book to get our vote. A bribe can buy you short-lived happiness but poor leadership is capable of giving us a lifetime of horror. We’re approaching a crucial point in the election cycle and we can get leaders of integrity if we practice integrity!

Political Parties are Re-aligning So Must You

Posted by on 12th August 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s interesting how Kenyans describe themselves as political animals because of the “interest” in politics yet never participate actively in political matters outside of voting. However, this is not entirely their fault. Political parties in Kenya lack anything remotely interesting outside the usual chest-thumping characters. They have a structure only on paper, but handle things ad-hoc and at the interest of the party leader most of the time. Internal party elections in some political parties can be disrupted by outside forces with impunity and members appear helpless under such circumstances

Worse still, political parties in Kenya are not driven by ideologies but individual interests with the exception of KANU. Although since the retirement of President Moi from active politics, KANU has become a pale shadow of its former self, hardly coming out clearly on any position of national importance. There was a time the public knew how KANU would respond to an issue, and indeed many older adults were registered members of KANU. The structures worked and members spoke with one accord even though this success was largely because the party leader was a known dictator.

Jubilee coalition just announced that they will be unveiling their new party soon, and a record 12 parties have so far indicated they will be dissolving to join the new Jubilee party. That announcement speaks volumes. First it questions the idea of political ideology in this country. Did the parties that dissolve believe the new Jubilee had similar values to theirs?  How does this move affect the watchdog role of political parties? While it would be a blessing to have a party with a national outlook as the new improved Jubilee party promises, we should be concerned if this merger absorbs opposition leaders to the point that we are left with a weak opposition party.

A report published by the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) last year revealed that none of Kenya’s political parties had a national outlook as all lacked representation in at least 24 counties.  Coalitions formed in the lead up to the 2013 election tried to address this gap. While it’s clear a party shall not be constituted based on religion, ethnicity, gender or regional basis, this still appears to be a grey area as most parties are formed based on regional blocks popularly referred to as coalition of tyrannies of numbers.

The recent Political Parties (Amendment) Act has effectively put an end to the briefcase parties that added to the confusion about the role of political parties in Kenya. Hopefully, political parties will come down to a number that represents only serious Kenyans. Perhaps under these circumstances it would be prudent for Kenyans to consider identifying a party that represents their ideals and make changes from within.

Furthermore, while it’s difficult telling just how many parties in Kenya meet the minimum required threshold especially with regard to membership. Especially, because, the number of Kenyans who complain about being registered without their knowledge increase in electioneering period, suggesting malpractice.

Maybe that’s why the electorate relates very casually with political parties. If the political parties were more organized, with working party systems and accountability mechanisms definitely more Kenyans would be actively registered members but these wanting structures and rumors of parties seeking bribe to nominate members for office have kept people away from an otherwise important political activity. Given this rampant political culture the public ends up simply voting one party for all elected positions thereby hurting themselves and falling into the politicians trap.

Now that we have established parties are mere vehicles to power the best way forward is to:

  • Single out individuals who show leadership mettle and vote for them regardless of the party they come from.
  • Join the political party your favorite candidates end up in and mobilize your friends and relatives to join to also become members of the party;
  • Ensure you and your friends and relatives show up on party nomination day to ensure they get the nomination ticket.
  • Remain vigilant on matters civic education. Political parties are supposed to mobilize their members to vote by offering civic education, translating to more votes for them. It’s their duty to compliment the IEBC as they both gain. However political parties in Kenya while capable of mobilizing their voters, peddle propaganda at the expense of civic education.
  • Push for structural and ideology driven change in the parties you join.

Today being the international Youth Day, Kenyan youth should take stock of what it means to be a youth in Kenya today and how best to be part of the solution.  For starters, take keen interest in those elected or nominated leaders who were supposed to champion youth causes and didn’t and remember to show them the contempt card. Secondly, refuse the bandwagon mentality of “our people” that keeps the youth busy but take them nowhere. The youth must put the youth demographic first, and then women. Select and campaign for leaders who offer realistic long-term responses to the challenges that most affect you. Don’t sell your birthright for pocket change.

Register as A Voter, Don’t Give Up on Kenya

Posted by on 5th August 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s something strange that most people who complain the most about the government and poor policies are the same ones who see no point in voting. What they fail to realize is that their inaction is rewarded by the leadership on display. Anybody who doesn’t vote when eligible to do so has no moral ground to complain about the direction the country is taking.

In working democracies, being a registered voter and going out to vote on the actual election date is revolutionary by itself. Voting, like Abraham Lincoln would say, gives rise to a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

A vote cast out of convictions and betterment of prevailing conditions would go to a leader who listens to the people and acts. This relationship between leaders and citizens definitely brings about good healthcare, food security, secure neighborhoods, employment and a corruption free public service. It is the people through the vote who change nations. Democracy works when the people take charge, when they abandon their roles it degenerates into a deadly monster.

In a country where over 9 million people remain unregistered as voters, we can derive that the people care less about the future of their children and grandchildren. Isn’t it manifestly clear that the future of Kenya is too important to be left to a minority?

Pondering this, is it not surprising that the people to whom the future belongs the most, ironically, are the ones greatly disengaged from it. Here are some statistics. A report by the Aga khan University confirms Kenya as a youthful country with a median age of 19 years. So we can rightly assume that the majority of the over 9 million unregistered voters are youth and off course their partners in marginalization – women.

Time to correct the past wrongs is nigh and we must therefore take up our role as good citizens and define the masterplan of the future. It is important to underline that voting alone can make you one of the planners.

While there are a number of challenges facing key institutions and therefore triggering apathy, the vote have immense powers to change institutions too. The secret is in identifying leaders who matches up our picture of the future. Sincerely, disenfranchising ourselves cannot make things better but worse. Refusing to register as a voter is tantamount to giving up on Kenya and your future, whereas making deliberate bad choices on the ballot box is equivalent to hawking your future at thirty pence.

Currently, the state of the nation isn’t so alluring thus a cloud of despondency. More statistics show that 41 per cent of the youth aged 20-24 live below the poverty line and also majority of the 15-19 year olds at 62%. The frank communication of this figure is that the youth and women especially should re-assess their priorities and resolve to own their future. Good people, politics affects all of life and more reason we should jealously be interested with the governance of Kenya.

We should say a resounding No! (Of course with our votes) to vices that have persistently denied us a good life. We must show that we are tired of losing loved ones to diseases that can be treated. Say No to an education system that doesn’t fulfil our needs. Say enough to institutions that extract the little we have rather than deliver.

The ability of rekindling hope is definitely within our reach. Time is now, to stop the blame game and find how we fit in this equation.

More importantly, civic education is fundamental and IEBC should also up their game in voter education to help Kenyans understand the process. Their staff at the county and constituency levels should be proactive and creative. To find the IEBC office in your constituency see our IEBC Office Locator

Ultimately, your vote stands out as your voice. Take control, register, identify servant leaders and plan to vote. The politicians are getting ready for the elections; the institutions too, will you?

 

 

Debate on Non- Kenyan IEBC Commissioners a Testament to an ailing Democracy

Posted by on 29th July 2016

Categories: Elections 2017 Uncategorized

 

Political drama is fodder for many Kenyans and that explains the heavy political content offered by our media houses. Unfortunately, our political players get carried away in their desire to show their political bravado and keep up the drama a little too long; thereby, sending signals that outside intervention might be necessary to calm their braggadocio.  At least that is what some Kenyans including political scientist Professor Bogonko think about the IEBC conundrum.

Prof. Bogonko recently suggested that the IEBC commissioners eat a humble pie and resign with dignity to pave way for a new team to be led by two foreign commissioners. His argument stems from the fact the country has in the past hired foreigners to lead important commissions where impartiality was paramount. It therefore should follow that this could be the remedy for the electoral commission that is dogged with credibility challenges every election year.

The idea to have polls run by foreigners was first fronted by opposition leaders in 2014. The leaders led by Senator James Orengo claimed that management of elections remained a thorny issue so long as a Kenyan was at the top suggesting that non-partisanship required non-Kenyans to manage elections.

It’s quite disturbing that over 50-years after independence we can’t agree on a clear way forward on how to manage our elections. Considering foreigners to manage our polls is practically an admission that Kenya is a failed state. To date only Afghanistan and Iraq are known to have outsourced electoral commissioners in 2004 and 2005 respectively through the United Nations (UN). Other countries that have seen the UN get involved, at least in the managing of elections are Cambodia and East Timor.

That this debate is raging should be the watershed moment both for our drama loving politicians and the IEBC commissioners- who have decided to stay put despite obvious lack of confidence from the public. No truly democratic nation has non-citizens on its electoral commission. Only failed states tend to gravitate to this model. Perhaps our politicians from both sides of the divide that are maintaining hard lines on the matter should really think if we should be in the same league with failed states.

The writing has been on the wall since CORD called for the disbandment of the commission. Politicians need to stop dilly-dallying and make the difficult choice. Luckily sanity prevailed and MPs shelved the report that National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee had cleared the chairman and his fellow commissioners of any wrong. The ball is now in the bi-partisan select committee court. It is time they proved the worth of their leadership. Nonetheless, it’s the IEBC chair and his eight commissioners that are creating the storm in the tea cup.

Surely, if the inter-religious council, the civil rights community, Law Society of Kenya, COTU and a sizeable number of Kenyans are dissatisfied with you, why should you put up a fight? Why should you even let Kenyans contemplate non-Kenyans for the job; like you were born to be commissioners?  Why should the IEBC commissioners wait for the Attorney General to advise the bi-partisan select committee that the former should be prevailed upon to leave voluntarily?

Chairman Hassan could borrow a leaf from the out-going British PM who having sensed the change in tide following the Brexit referendum decided to step down. It shows a man driven by conviction rather than ego.

As for the debate to have a non-Kenyan, let’s sober up. We have not reached that point. There are men and women of integrity in this country that can run credible elections. All we need to do is to look outside of politics. And our politicians should also tone down the unnecessary rhetoric lest we end up a failed state.