January 23rd 2018

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

IEBC has a lot still to do, but all of us are key to delivering free and fair elections

We need to deal with the Police and how they are acting as a tool in the hands of the ruling party. Elections can never be fair or credible if the security sector is not independent, impartial and unbiased. I have deep fear regarding the police and the security sector agencies.

By Cyprian NyamwamuMonday, 23 Jan 2017 10:52 EAT

Outgoing IEBC chairperson Isaack Hassan (l) hands over office to his successor Wafula Chebukati. (Photo: Courtesy/Standard).

Article 81 (e) of the Constitution sets the standards for free and fair elections. For us to have free and fair elections several ingredients must be in place sooner than later:

1. The current voter register- whichever it is because they are two or three- must be audited through a serious and credible process. IEBC does not like involving stakeholders. That is how they selected IEBC without going through a consultative process and this process has been stopped on its tracks. 

2. Voter registration must be carried out in a fair process. Several parts of this country have many qualified Kenyans denied the ID or Passport and this denies them the opportunity to register as voters. The current mass voter registration exercise is visible in its noise but in essence many will not register. Kenyans also seem disinterested going by the numerous ID cards uncollected from the administrative offices. Why can’t the chiefs take the ID cards and distribute them in their locations?? Why are Kenyans in the diaspora not being registered by IEBC in large numbers to vote for the Presidency alone? The Government using embassies to register voters for IEBC is very suspicious. 

3. We must finally get a clean verifiable, credible and solid Voter Register without millions of dead, imaginary and ghost voters. A clean register to base our exercise is crucial. 

4. We need to deal with the issue of political party governance in Kenya to ensure we have a known register of members of a party, that only members participate in the nomination of these parties and that the party primaries/nominations are free and fair, credible and free from corruption and patronage. The capture of the State in Kenya is through the capture of political parties. 

5. We need to deal with the Police and how they are acting as a tool in the hands of the ruling party. Elections can never be fair or credible if the security sector is not independent, impartial and unbiased. I have deep fear regarding the police and the security sector agencies. The way the government is spending and displaying armored personnel carriers with guns mounted on them for police to use is totally wrong headed and it is not being discussed and questioned adequately. 

6. We also need to set up a serious and strong vetting mechanism consistent with Chapter 6 of the constitution of Kenya to ensure that corrupt, fraudulent, anti-democracy, anti-cohesion, anti-peace individuals do not get elected to our Assemblies be it the Senate, National or County Assemblies.

The IEBC, working with the Ombudsman, the EACC, the NGEC, The KNCHR, The Police and the Intelligence Service should cooperate with the public to ensure women and men of who have betrayed out national values and principles are locked out of the leadership of our nation. 

7. The campaigns need to be nonviolent. We need to deal with hate speech, incitement, ethnic and clan biases that are likely to bring about serious conflicts and possible violence in the counties and even nationally. 

8. We need to settle this heavy matter of electoral transparency and accountability as regards the use of electoral technology. We must ensure that Electronic Voter Identification is not a negotiable. We cannot allow a situation where ballot stuffing, estimation of figures and cooking of results happens because we did not ascertain that only registered and alive voters willingly voted.

Let me say this: Central, parts of Rift Valley and parts of Nyanza are notorious for collusion to inflate the presidential vote. This must be dealt with. This 86 percent turnout for the presidency ballot and 72 percent for the rest is such a crime against the nation. Electronic Results Transmission must be employed as well to preempt the usual cooking of figures in order to favour politicians in their strongholds. 

9. The use of corrupt money and distortion of the will of the people through misuse of the incumbency is hurting our nation. There are also opposition candidates that are involved and that will be involved in corrupt practices and that will even employ criminal tactics to win the election. This is how Kenyans have been unable to get credible leaders of integrity. When the corrupt win elections, they use governmental public offices of trust to steal, abuse office for personal gain and deny the public rights and services. 

10. This ethnic balkanization of our nation and reducing elections to an ethnic census must be stopped by a group of conscious and courageous Kenyans who present a different and people centered narrative. The right questions must be asked. 

11. We must ensure that we have a credible IEBC which ensures that it has officers at the Polling station and at the Constituency and national level who do not cook figures, conjure results and mess up elections. The New Commissioners and Chair need a lot of support and protection from the ravenous political competitors on condition that they will open up the process and make it credible and believable. 

12. Civic and voter education is so crucial for our nation’s democratic consolidation, maturing our political culture, defeating bankrupt politics in favour of progressive, responsible and accountable people centered politics and processes. The current fight against civic and voter education by the Jubilee administration is regrettable and sends the wrong messages about government’s commitment to facilitating a credible and peaceful election.

13. There is need for a robust framework for election monitoring and observation of all the pre-election, election and post-election processes in order to promote the credibility of the process. Currently government is not interested in funding the process of observation or civic education leaving this at the mercy of foreign supporters- mostly through taxes of other nationals- which is regrettable. Yet the ruling coalition and the opposition seem to feel jittery about foreign funding. What both do not want is robust monitoring and evaluation and civic and voter education. 

14. I have heard the opposition say that the only way to ensure peace prevails in the post August 2017 general election is by ensuring that we have credible elections. This is foolish because it is not the ruling party officials who need peace or credible elections but the people of Kenya including the supporters of the opposition political parties. We need credible elections for credible elections purposes so that Kenyans get a government that is mandated by the will of the people of Kenya through a credible election.

We also need peace for purposes of peace because without peace the economic and social pillar as well as the governance pillar all collapse. Who suffers when peace collapses? Is it government officials? You can work for credible elections and for peace all at the same time.

Do not accept the ruling party’s trap of presenting a false option before the nation, which is that those demanding for credible elections are indirectly threatening peace. Or the opposition’s false narrative that those who are demanding that we secure peace are working for a rigged and fraudulent election that is not credible, free or fair. 

The writer is a good governance campaigner and CEO, Future of Kenya Foundation

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