Elections in Kenya have never been credible, not even fare nor free. The multi party democracy in Kenya started when Kenneth Matiba was arrested and detained on July 4, 1990 together with Charles Rubia, and then political activist Raila Odinga, (also a candidate in this years elections) for demanding the re-introduction of multi-party democracy. At that time, the repression by President Daniel arap Moi’s (Nyayo was his other name) regime was at its peak.
The Cold War had collapsed and many Africa strongmen, including Moi, found themselves under pressure from donors and development partners in the West, as well as from home-grown movements, to allow multi-party democracy. The arrest of Rubia, Matiba, and Raila were to pre-empt a rally that had been planned by opposition leaders at the Kamkunji grounds in Nairobi on July 7.
The rally had been baptised Saba Saba. The group was led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Masinde Muliro, Timothy Njoya, James Orengo, Paul Muite, Gitobu Imanyara, and Martin Shikuku, among others, to press for greater democratic space and a stop to human rights abuses. Despite the ban by the government, thousands of Kenyans marched in defiance of a previously unchallengeable regime to make their way to Nairobi’s Kamukunji grounds to press the case for democracy……(Kenyans forget history very fast).
This is the second election since the passage of the new constitution in 2010, and the votes will likely be a referendum on some of its successes and failures of President Uhuru Kenyatta….son the the first president. It was being watched closely from all ends of the world. But Kenya has faced myriad obstacles to peaceful elections in the past, and there are three main issues which were at watch as August 8 approached: ongoing healthcare strikes, the role of false or defamatory news, and the potential for vote rigging…..the later being a common occurrence during elections.
Another issue of great concern was the growing prevalence of election-related mudslinging. In an already tense environment, the distribution of defamatory headlines about candidates was contributing to fears about potential electoral violence. The spread of fake news is particularly rapid in Kenya, where articles can be shared widely due to the high rate of mobile and internet access, a relatively youthful population, and a large volume of Twitter use. So days before the elections, people shopped, they wanted to make sure they had enough food….or call it more that enough, others travelled to safer places…..I mean places they felt safe.
When I travelled to Kisumu on the weekend before the election, I visited a major supermarket store and on that day they had recorded sales of 12 million two hours before they close of their business, more that double what they normally sale. There was great demand for transport to the country sides and the fares were doubled and in some places tripled. After violence following a disputed election in 2007 left approximately 1,400 dead, Kenyans are always afraid when election knocks on their doors. So afraid that those who were able, booked flights and jetted out of the country minutes before others queued to cast their votes.
Its calm today, elections have come and gone. IEBC, the body that oversees the election says that the incumbent won, they have also admitted that there was attempted hacking of their system……lets just call it hacking, I am a techie and I know there is nothing like attempted hacking…..and they need time to produce form 34a even though they have all the form 34b which are supposed to be generated from the former. Forms 34A are filled at polling stations to show how votes were cast before they are transmitted to the constituency level where the results are filled into forms 34B.
There has been demand from the part of public not to look into what happened during and after they cast their vote saying…….they would like to move on with their lives. Business stopped for one week and the roads were empty….so empty that I enjoyed biking 46 km two days after I cast my vote. It took three days to get the winner. People in some areas had run out of patient and collided with the force of police. Innocent lives were lost, lives of small children…….shot by police at close range. I restrained myself from watching news, from being on a political side and from wanting to know who had won.
It’s been 11 days since we went to the polls, NASA the opposition coalition have declared they will go to the supreme court….the highest court of the land. The move has been welcomes by those holding the government. IEBC on the other had still maintain their stand that the election was free, fair and credible, even with all the allegations that have knocked on their door. Some people have celebrated the innocent lives taken by the police, they have had a big laugh in death. The president came out and called for peace, and asked police not to use brutal force, but the damage is already done. If those victims will ever get justice remains to be witnessed.
Life has moved on very fast, people are going to work, others are pretending to be friends again. Husband and wife are talking again…….everything will go well for the next five years, then we will be at it again. Rigging elections, fleeing danger, overshopping and losing innocent lives…..all that while we call ourselves brothers and sisters.
The one who rigs best wins. The winners have their way and their say also.