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Legal Attempt to Level the Playing Field
During Political Campaigns Rubbished

Coastweek -- After a gruelling year that included a period of intense political activity followed by an intriguing and sometimes brutal period of litigation we now have a political and legal outcome to our “Elections 2017” soap opera, writes Teti Kamugunda.

By taking away all the high stakes and emotional voltage that were the reality in this election period, a cold observation from the outside without an understanding or appreciation of the undertones would leave one baffled at the actions, speechification and postures that were taken especially in the period of politico-legal activity prior to the election. 

The first was the to and fro about having a “credible” IEBC.

This action was precipitated by the opposition angling for the removal of the sitting members by casting aspersions on their ability to conduct a fair and credible election.

It was the pressure from street protests and intense media action that led to the “voluntary” resignation of the incumbent committee.

It resulted in the coming together of a multiparty comm-ittee to change the legislation pertaining to the IEBC and also revise part of the electoral law based on concerns that were raised by all the parties.

This revision was supposed to create a more credible and fair election as it took into account all the concerns of the multitude of political players.

This bipartisan revision by the two major protagonists in the elections was however going to come back and haunt the very same people who led the revision.

The second was the selection of the members of the IEBC following the enactment of the revisions to the Elections Act.

The interview of the shortlisted candidates was fully televised by one of the local TV stations and was in itself great entertainment.

The final selection of the chairman of the Commission surprised many people and has continued to be an intrigue in any discussion about the Commission.

The issue of the effe-ctiveness and trustworthiness of the organisation has also been a subject of heated discussion by all and sundry when all they were trying to do was deliver an election in a very heated and fiercely partisan environment.

This discussion will continue once the protagonists have had a short break to sort out the fallout resulting from the election outcomes.

It means that the next election will start in earnest much earlier than the law allows and will probably much more brutal as it will be an almost open field.

The third was the sheer expenditure that was visible during the electioneering process when the law actually tries to limit how much the parties spend in the elections.

This legal attempt at levelling the playing field is one that has been rubbished in Kenya as the various political parties see the uncapping of spending as an opportunity to gain serious advantage in campaigning.

It also causes ganging up of political parties in order to create some synergy in resources.

The issue of capping of spending of lection is likely to be part of the new discussions about having fair, free and credible elections in the future.

The fourth was the understanding of the court process.

The ruling and the circus around the court process had all of us glued to our TVs, social media and radio for hours on end and it did not disappoint.

The first petition was upheld and the election nullified.

This was a historical ruling that had many corners of the world talking.

The full import of the rulings of the two petitions and what it portends to the electoral process will play out.

There are currently many parallel conversations taking place in Kenya around what needs to be done going forward to ensure that elections do not have impacts on the social fabric of the country as has been witnessed in the elections this year.

These conversations have to take place but with an emphasis of empowering Wanjiku to be self-reliant and not to look up to political “representation” as the panacea to all their ills and expectations.

The election of a President, or Member of Parliament should be based on high level policy expectations.

The elections that will directly impact on the lives of ordinary citizens is that of the Governor and the MCA.

If we get to a situation where elections and heavily fought at the county level and incidentally at the national level.

That is when we will have reached political maturity as expressed in our Constitution.

As Kachumbari says, it is absolutely essential that we make every Kenyan have a sustainable livelihood so that they do not rely on politics to be the solution.



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  This year’s rally will be
flagged off at Sarova
Whitesands on November
23rd and finish at the same
venue on December 1st.


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