January 23rd 2018

Opinion / Commentaries

Politicians should stop beating drums of war as the Election Day draws near

Heightening our consternation even further is the fact that the ruling coalition [Jubilee] appears to be lauding the IEBC’s ineptitudes and unpreparedness. It makes us smell a rat

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 12 Jul 2017 14:43 EAT

2007/2008 Post Election Violence protesters.

Before it’s too late to turn tables, there’s a consuming need to tame the tide of the up-ratcheting political rhetoric. It is far beyond debate that our political atmosphere is getting politically polluted gradually by the forward-ticking of the clock.

Juxtaposing the current pressure cooker kind of the political situation with a time like this before Kenyans cast their votes in the previous election [2007], one would leap swiftly to the conclusion that our present political circumstances presage post-poll “doom and gloom.”

Why, one asks, are our political actors and by extension the electoral referee that’s the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) jeopardizing the security of this beloved country, that we all call home regardless of our tribal composition, political predisposition and religious extractions?

The stake-raising political remarks spewed by our political leaders across the political spectrum that aim at despising, intimidating, coercing and corrupting constitutionally established independent institutions and other arms of the government could actually plummet this nation into unspeakable chaos. All because of the swelling egocentric attitudes demonstrated by our political leaders.

This crop of leaders seem to have learnt  nothing from the tragedy that bedeviled Kenya in 2007/8 where more than a thousand people were reduced to statistics and roughly five-six hundred thousand internally displaced. Does it point to the slothful argument[s] that our leaders “have memories like sieves?“ I think their memories are highly-retentive, particularly of the major historical events that redefine the societal order. In my considered view, our leaders’ endless pursuit of vested interests has eclipsed the splendor of advancing the noble goals for the common good. Goals that serve the interests of the wider public.

And yes, our leaders are cognizant of the fact that they are doing Kenyans a  disservice by deliberately toxifying our political environment, with insincerity  and hypocrisy.

 On Friday last week, the High Court delivered a ruling that saw the poll body being ordered to re-tender the ballot paper printing. Reason? The tendering process fell short of public participation as required by the Constitution. Simple as that! However, the question of which axis of the political divide won or lost is irrelevant. It was a win for the integrity of the election process and Kenyan public in its entirety.

Instead of taking the Court’s decision inclusively, the poll agency together with Jubilee wing of the political spectrum went to the greater length of casting aspersions upon the substance, intentions [which they view as nefarious] and texture of the judgement. Critiquing a ruling and pointing out the possible bias due to some elements of existential conflicts of interest among some judges is neither illegal nor untoward.

All one has to do is follow the set procedures that lawyers know better; because the legal procedures abound in our elaborate judicial system. But  Jubilee has said is grossly  unfair. Legal scholars say it amounts to “superfluous interference of other arms of government.”

One hoped that the poll body immediately acted on the Court’s directive without crying foul. Nonetheless, its propensity to dance to the tune of some political group should leave patriotic Kenyans quaking in their boots. The Chebukati-led commission’s recent actions and inaction – given the manner in which they’re treating the competing political forces could lend credence to the popular belief and perception among the public that it’s not keen on delivering a credible electoral outcome. Meaning the sizable public confidence that the commission enjoyed in the past faces the risk of fading dramatically, if IEBC’s glaring incompetence and suspected unpreparedness is anything to go by.

NASA has been trying to advocate for the IEBC’s adequate preparedness for conducting free, fair and transparent elections. It has been consistent on this; pointing out without dithering the anomalies within the IEBC’s register and pressing on for its [register] clean-up before the voting day. Which in my view is a praise-worthy move. Interestingly, the commission’s attitude towards addressing the issues raised with the urgency that they deserve leaves a lot to be desired. Underscoring definitely why Kenyans should be a little bit jittery and disturbed.

Heightening our consternation even further is the fact that the ruling coalition [Jubilee] appears to be lauding the IEBC’s ineptitudes and unpreparedness. It makes us smell a rat.

Whatever the end-game of the seemingly ceaseless political ping-pong, all we need is post-poll PEACE. And this peace will only be attained if the credibility of the election is beyond reproach and the current political rhetoric which is peppered with divisive narratives cools down.

It’s in everybody’s earnest prayer that politicians across the board stop in their tracks, and tone things down; if they cared . Failure to de-escalate the simmering political temperatures would put Kenyans on a collision course.

IEBC, courts and politicians have the key to unlock the dangerous political stalemate that might occur before, during and after the election. They have to work in unity to make sure the voices of the people are heard. IEBC and Courts must rise above the political fray, preside over patriotically and honestly deliver nothing short of credible electoral results. 

That, in my opinion is the one and only impeccable panacea for guaranteeing peace, tranquility and harmony in our mother land, Kenya. I wrap up my piece by reminding us of the western maxim, ‘forewarned is forearmed.’

Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press

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