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November 16, 2018

Primaries were undemocratic

Party nominations held ahead of the August 8 general election exposed the worst in some of the politicians seeking elective office, especially incumbents. Contemptuous does not describe the callous way those in power handle the electorate.

Some of the politicians, who presented themselves during the 2013 general election as ‘babysitters’, have evolved into public monsters. They abuse with terrifying callousness. The incumbents have no respect for the ordinary wananchi, who continue to pay for non-existent public services through their taxes. These are the majority of the voters.

They are the poor, who do not have access to clean water, affordable healthcare, roads and good schools. They are burdened taxpayers who fall easily to political crap.

Some of these incumbents have been accused of corruption, with pending integrity cases in court. But they still use proceeds of impunity to buy reelection. They plunder public funds, and then use the loot to defile your democratic rights. They have used public funds for self-aggrandisement, without fear of accountability or shame of exposure.

They have plundered with such recklessness that they should be ashamed of even seeking reelection. But they are still spreading the proceeds of corruption to bait the gullible.

An incident in Homa Bay county exposes the contemptuous behaviour of these leaders. The poor voters were waiting for the ‘god of largesse’. He was expected at midday.

When he arrived at sunset, the crowd of about 250 was agitated. They had not waited for him to listen to what he had to say. In any case, he usually has nothing to say about why he is seeking reelection after five years of plunder and personal grandeur.

The average belly of the politician, who only got elected in 2013, has grown into a nine-month pregnancy. The ‘heavily pregnant’ leader was expected to manage public funds for the benefit of the famished majority. His subjects, who he calls “my people”, still fight for water with wild animals at algae-filled pans.

The crowd was waiting for the handouts the politician gives to befuddle the masses. They have heard of his notoriety for throwing wards of cash at people. This was their turn to change diet.

When the politician arrived to the beat of ‘Sudhe Tibiim!’ from loudspeakers mounted on a Pickup truck, the crowd roared back a parody of the tune, ‘Sudhe Chibiim!’

The villagers do not know the meaning of ‘Tibiim! But the chorus had another meaning: Sudhe (wild dog) wife of a gorilla. “Gonywa iseketho nwa seche!” an intoxicated man, shouted from the back of the surging crowd. He was saying, “Free us, you have wasted our time.”

Market stalls were closing for the day. The crowd shouted, “Pesa! Pesa! Pesa!” Bundles of notes in Sh200 note denominations were thrown to the crowd from four directions. The campaign team scampered back to their cars, as echoes of ‘Sudhe Chibiim!’ followed with renewed bitterness. Five people were injured as the people fought for the money. Some of the notes were torn beyond value. Three people are still nursing wounds from the incident.

On the nomination day, ballot papers arrived 10 hours behind schedule in most polling stations. At Ndhole Primary School polling station, North Karachuonyo ward, Karachuonyo constituency, 50 ballot papers were delivered for 787 registered voters. In Kibiri ward, Karachuonyo, only one of 22 polling stations — Samanga Primary School — opened. Democracy was hijacked. But the results were declared in favour of the incumbent. The nomination was free and fair, the people were told.

Reelection should be tied to realisation of pre-election promises. Here, it is the ability to intimidate, unleash violence, bribe, blackmail, and brainwash.

Clan emotions add to this cocktail of confusion. The gullible fall easily to the treachery of the mendacious. The electorate must prepare to penalise such impudence at the general election on August 8.

Poll of the day