How long will the country continue in a state of paralysis?

Saturday November 25 2017

Nasa supporters on Haile Selassie Avenue,

Nasa supporters on Haile Selassie Avenue, Nairobi during an anti-IEBC demonstration on October 11, 2017. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KARANJA KABAGE
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I was encouraged by the views in the Sunday Nation editorial last week and wish to add my thoughts to some of the patent issues raised (‘Court decision will give road map for the next action’, November 19, 2017).

I believe that the August 8 General Election was not the foundational basis for the pent-up anger.

The genesis is how our political parties are organised and managed. A careful analysis of the political parties’ nomination process often informs the outcome of our General Election.

CLEAN LEADERS

Without a doubt, a majority of these candidates are whom we vote into office.?Consequently, even before a General Election is held, we have a built-in corrupt system of electing and/or nominating leaders — and so true is the English saying: “garbage in, garbage out”.
When we begin with a crop of some leaders whose main aim is to get into power by whichever means at various levels, why then should we expect to have clean leaders, since the process used to nominate them is tainted?

Kenyans must henceforth demand that, as per Article 88 of the Constitution, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should conduct party primaries with clear rules applicable to everybody.

Why? The Kenyan taxpayer funds the main political parties and has a right to demand a transparent process!?These parties are no longer private or welfare organisations but public funded legal entities, auditable by the Auditor- General.

In the Sunday Nation article, you refer to electoral justice, which is a recent phenomenon that has not been defined, yet it is now a currency in our political discourse.

If you ask a majority of people – those who are advancing it or the ordinary person –? they will give you different meanings.

So let us not take it for granted that we know what it means, but rather give it a practical application since it has many facets.

REFORMS

The reference to police and IEBC as some of those institutions that need reforms makes sense.

However, with respect to the IEBC, an institution created post-2010 Constitution, we don’t seem to have the inclination to allow it time to firmly establish itself.

Kenyans are very quick at wanting to call for reforms, while it is impractical for an institution so young and with such enormity of responsibility to function normally when some in the political class are exceptionally impatient.

It is none other than the Kriegler Commission that articulated in its findings the solution when it recommended that an electoral commission should be in place and functioning at least 24 months to an election.

We must also accept that elections have winners and losers. For instance, in 2016 when the US election took place, Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton (Democratic Party) got more votes than Donald Trump (Republican Party), yet Trump carried the day.

We didn’t hear of talk that Mrs Clinton had 65.84 million voters versus 62.98 million of Mr Trump and, therefore, she should share power or one should be sensitive to people that voted for the Democratic Party candidate.

DEMOCRACY

This is one of Kenya’s contradictions: when they do not accept that democracy is the will of the majority but the minority must always have their say. We cannot have it both ways.
If we always think in terms of those people who supported the losing party as marginalised, we will never truly build strong parties and respect competitive politics nor have alternative programmes that address existence of different political parties.

This was why Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of governing but, unfortunately, it does not have an alternative.

Once we have accepted democracy, we must live with its consequences. This also means we must abide by the decisions of our courts which are the independent arbiters on matters of electoral disputes.
As far as national dialogue is concerned, I fully support it.

There are amendments that are an imperative to be made to our Constitution but then it is critical that we follow the dictates and letter of the Constitution in making the changes because any other procedure will invite anarchy.

A road map has been provided under Chapter 16 and that’s the only agreed route. Any other extra-constitutional means must be frowned on.?Finally, I agree that it is not just the political class that must be involved in national dialogue.

We must engage as many stakeholders as possible because as Pericles, a Greek philosopher, said “just because you do not take an interest in politics, does not mean politics won’t take an interest in you”.

That was true then and it is also true today because politics is the universal instrument of governance of a people.

The writer is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya; [email protected]?


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