Opinion / Commentaries
Thursday, 04 May 2017 18:05 EAT
If what happened in party nominations during the past few weeks is the precursor of what is ahead, then the August 8 Kenya general elections could turn out to be a much troubled exercise.
In pluralistic societies, party primaries are supposed to mirror the real elections. They are supposed to be free and fair; devoid of rigging and cheating. They are supposed to give the electorate the first opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff and pick the best candidates based on the social, economic and political indicators they have set for themselves.
Usually, ordinary members, not political party leaders, control the process. They are the ones who dictate policies and strategies best suited to their interests.
The only role party leaders, including local officials, play is that of providing polling venues, ballot papers, and other requirements as may be needed for a smooth exercise, and for them to be present for counting and tallying of votes.
Nominations are not an exercise in manipulation, patronage, nepotism, or favors. However we saw in the Kenya nominations a deliberate pattern of machinations, fraud, interferences, and political intrigues, that appear to have rendered the process a sham in most areas.
While in a few areas the exercise was conducted diligently and professionally, in many parts polling was accompanied by violence, threats, vote stealing, vote manipulation, and blatant disregard for party rules. The result is that many bogus candidates "won" when they should have lost and vice versa.
In one Nairobi constituency, a loser needed only to camp at party offices and cry all day long to back his claim that he won. There was no recount of votes, no poll repeat, nothing. At the end of the day, the cry baby jubilantly left with the nomination certificate in his pocket. In other cases, protests and violent skirmishes led to overturning of poll results making losers winners and winners losers.
In addition, favoured candidates were given direct nominations and sailed through to the general elections unchallenged - an "affront" to democracy, as the Daily Nation once said.
Since the polls, dozens of "losers" have lost confidence in their parties and have crossed the isle to stand either as independents or as aspirants in other parties.
This has created major splits in both the ruling Jubilee party and the opposition NASA coalition - splits which will most likely resurface in a big way in the polls and cause unexpected upsets.
Overall, what happened in the primaries do not augur well for peaceful elections that are only three months away.
I hope Kenyans will use this short time until August to reflect on the future of their country, and come to terms with the fact that only a credible election will save the country from chaos.
The writer is a veteran journalist, author and former Member of Parliament for Bahari. All his books are available in bookshops in Nairobi and on Amazon.com