February 25th 2018

Opinion / Commentaries

Manual voting is Jubilee's only path to victory, and it will fight hard for it

The opposition must challenge this contentious law by all means. A large segment of the Kenyan populace is behind the opposition's authentic quest for level playing field, and Jubilee must not be allowed to impose its incompetent leadership upon us, Kenyans. We have suffered enough!

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 12 Jan 2017 11:11 EAT

IEBC Co-chairs Kiraitu Murungu and James Orengo in the good days.

An impending cloud of electoral uncertainty in our country is hovering menacingly above our heads, courtesy of partisan and individualistic interests ardently pursued by our self-dealing political elites. It is demonstrably obvious that once we propel our leaders into the positions of power, our collective welfare stopped being one of their topmost priorities. Yes, this cannot be gainsaid.

Kenyans are a deeply frustrated lot, whose spirits of patriotism are perpetually dampened by the obscenely avaricious political class. This underscores why the current crop of leaders across the political spectrum had received frosty welcome, and even faced with booing and heckling from disgruntled electorates.

Don't get me wrong. I'm just doing my work: painting the real picture of our leaders, particularly politicians. For the political sycophants and assorted cheer-leading enthusiasts who expect me to sing praises for their political godfathers, sorry. I don't know how to praise because there's hardly been any leader worth it. As I have indicated earlier, in one of my past articles, I'm nobody's Yes-man! However, praise I can, provided that it meets the minimum threshold of earning it...

Well, let’s muse over the controversially amended electoral law. In December, the National Assembly passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016. It's essential to note that the Elections Act stipulated, before the amendment, that polls will be carried out through an electronic system, including tallying and transmission of results. Which to many Kenyans (save for the few sacred beneficiaries of a rigged electoral system) was an ace idea worthy of adoption.

Some morally insolvent political elites together with their hired spin-doctors are heavily banking on the credulity and gullibility of some Kenyans, both half-schooled and the illiterate. Or even the erudite, of the sycophantic species.

Never in the wildest of my dreams had I thought of a government that's highly-touted as 'digital' one, would encourage and embrace the 'analogue' way of doing things. Look, the soft-speaking Education CS, Dr Fred Matiang'i who restored the credibility of our national examinations (KCPE and KCSE) ordered the relevant authorities to contact virtually the entire process technologically. You could download results from the designated website. In Huduma centres, they use technology. In a nutshell, technology is the engine of growth from all the key aspects of our routine activities or even lives.

With this in mind, we no longer need the assistance of a rocket scientist to elucidate for us, certainly in simple and coherent terms, why the ruling coalition was moving earth and heaven, with all its might, to make sure that contentious amended electoral law sails through the legislative chambers: the National Assembly and the Senate.

Remember, the electoral laws in question were negotiated by the joint Parliamentary Select Committee from the national assembly and senate, co-chaired by Senators James Orengo (representing CORD) and Kiraitu Murungi (Jubilee). These senators, I imagine, are a razor-sharp legal minds. The select committee, I'm reliably informed, adopted a bipartisan approach towards the issues raised. After their deliberations, the ball was 'placed' in the legislative court, which did what was necessary then. This was what exorcised the horrifying ghosts of street protests led by the opposition political luminaries.

I don't comprehend what incited the Jubilee side of the political divide into amending the hitherto negotiated and amended electoral law[s]. Maybe its popularity has conspicuously undergone a tremendous declension. Relying on its numerical fortitude, Jubilee legislators parachuted the 'thing' into the parliament. I'm sure you understand how the grotesque shape that the so-called debate took. MPs in the National Assembly hurled some unprintable slurs at each other. Journalists were threatened. I mean all manner of obnoxious behaviours were displayed.

Decorum was suspended, and political contests pitting the ruling coalition against the opposition played out as party politics took centre-stage. The rest is history. As anticipated, Jubilee pushed its agenda through the National Assembly. When the Bill moved to the Senate, senators across the political board promised Kenyans that they would debate it open-mindedly. At least for once, we heaved a sigh of relief. I thought senators would distinguish themselves from the shameful lower house, but that was not to be. The 'dispassionate debate' that they promised Kenyans could soon degenerate into a sickening show of political might. Emotions ran high as the debate raged on.

Even the contributions of all other election stakeholders like the media, civil society, the clergy, and so on and so forth were downplayed, I imagine, by design. What does this hideous turn of events mean to the political terrain of Kenya? Our political elites who were elected have forgotten their “employers”; ordinary wananchi. Political expediency seems to have drowned their sense of servant leadership. And you know this won't bode well with most of the Kenyan electorates. Bad for business.

Yes, let’s examine the crux of the whole issue. It's the toughest nut to crack for a right-thinking person to believe in Jubilee's slothful arguments. They are selling the narratives that the use of electronic system won't guarantee successful electoral process. Moreover, the Jubilee side fervently says we need a manual back-up system to skirt around unnecessary delays of electoral process, in the event technology fails. Just contemplate how laughable this is. Nevertheless, CORD is vehemently arguing against the use of manual system. Question is, who is fooling who, here? Wait. As I pen this piece, the president has signed the contentious Bill without dithering. Why? He knows what some of us may not easily fathom. Are you smelling some elements of monkey business here?

Based on the manner in which the ruling coalition has argued its points, there's every reason to believe that the UhuRuto-led coalition is having some ulterior motives. Even their most outlandish and exaggerated popularity ratings by the Nairobi-based pollsters should worry us. Let me hit the nail on the head. Jubilee has seen no chance of massive vote rigging if electronic system of election is adopted. Which highlights why they are doing all it takes, to make us believe in their 'cock and bull story'. The use of electronic system has worked well in Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana. Why not in our country? Truth is, they will do what they did in the past (2013); hire ICT experts to hack the system, thus create a climate for vote rigging.

Manual voting system is certainly vulnerable to manipulation. Jubilee leaders, with all due respect, want the electoral system rigged before the actual voting day; obviously in favour of its presidential torch bearer, the incumbent! Which patently tells us why the ruling coalition, infamously known for its exclusionary arrangements, inverted prioritisation of its national agendas, mastery of public relations stunts, deliberate facilitation of raiding of public coffers with impunity and its distorted definition of 'Patriotism’. Or conflation of patriotism with sycophancy!

I find it impeccably in order to put in my two pennyworth on the mind-gnawing issues and delicious intrigues enclosing the recently-assented to contentious Bill on electoral law[s]. People are hungering of the plain truth. The truth that the political class [especially those within the sanctums of power] plus the self-styled political analysts are keeping under the wraps. Jubilee government has drastically lost its popularity glory. So don't be startled when you see them clutching at a political straw. They are alive to the reality that NASA is a formidable political force that could easily send them packing, at the chink of dawn. There are all signals that the Jubilee house is saturated with panic; all and sundry inside there is having butterflies in the stomach.

The opposition, which is the government in waiting, must challenge this contentious law by all possible means. I am cock-sure large segment of the Kenyan populace is fully behind the opposition's authentic quest for level playing field. In summary, Jubilee must not be allowed to impose its incompetent leadership upon us, Kenyans. We have suffered enough!

The ruling coalition should blame itself for squandering the opportunity we gave them hitherto. I mean, voting in Jubilee again is like jumping out of frying pan into a ragging inferno. It's costly. We cannot afford to repeat the same blunder!

Someone should wake up and smell the coffee, shouldn’t he?

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

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