Impunity fuels electoral anarchy


At Independence 55 years ago, the Founding Fathers identified the triple challenges —ignorance, disease, and poverty. A fourth challenge — impunity — joined the cocktail soon after Uhuru.

Impunity has turned the courts into a laundry for the mischief and mendacity of the power clique. Impunity has blossomed — flowering every election time. It’s the feeding season for the vultures of opportunity.

The cost to the economy and the assault on stunted nationhood are clear to right-thinking people. But even the ranks of right-thinking citizens have diminished. Lords of impunity have found a price for them. Which is why they jump from party to party during elections.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines impunity as “exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of action.” The politically correct and those who enjoy the patronage of the power clique have always acted with impunity.

Whistleblowers are criminalised, as suspects buy their way to freedom. Integrity activist John Githongo was forced into exile in 2006, when he exposed the complicity of powerful ministers under the Kibaki regime. Suspects in the multibillion-shilling Anglo Leasing plunder are still playing clever with justice.

Law enforcers who give in to political pressure are responsible for the growth of impunity. Suspects are assumed to be guilty until they are proved rich and politically influential. Consequently, there is judicial, prosecutorial, and electoral anarchy.

In September, NASA lawyer and Mathare MP Anthony Oluoch wrote to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, asking for investigation and prosecution of suspects in electoral illegalities and irregularities.

Although Keriako Tobiko publicly acknowledged receipt of the letter, nothing has been done. The 21 days have grown into months. Impunity rules.

Kenyans were back at the Supreme Court, seeking to have the IEBC and its chairman Wafula Chebukati found to have committed electoral illegalities and irregularities. But the fresh presidential election on October 26 has just been validated, so that the country can move on because there can never be a perfect election.

Perhaps the courts would not be a laundry of bad manners if independent institutions worked right, guided solely by public interest.

Post-election behaviour would have taken a civil trajectory if the perpetrators of election offences were identified and penalised. The chairman of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya, the late Samuel Kivuitu, confessed, on camera, that he did not know who won the 2007 presidential election. But President Kibaki had to ‘win’ at all cost. Kivuitu announced an alleged winner, who was sworn in at night against the backdrop of gunfire, blood and tears.

Fair-weather politician Martha Karua was deep in the electoral muddle of 2007. Electoral anarchy is fair game when fraud favours a homeboy.

Perhaps the situation would have been different if former IEBC chairman Issack Hassan told the full account of the shenanigans of the 2013 presidential election.

The Hassan commission was forced out of the IEBC with a post-dated payoff. Hassan’s partisan statements during the 2013 Supreme Court hearings exposed a commission long embedded in the power clique.

The IEBC, under Chebukati, is a pretty mess. This man should be serving a jail term for contempt of court. He defied court orders to open the electoral servers. If the DPP had held Chebukati and his accomplices accountable in the bungle of the August 8 polls, electoral anarchy would have been checked.

In a memo to CEO Ezra Chiloba, Chebukati said the commission could not explain how a single budget item of Sh848 million was used. The satellite mobile phones meant for areas without 4G network were not delivered. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is yet to investigate these sins against the economy.

Electoral anarchy and crimes blossom because suspects are shielded from accountability. The Supreme Court has had its say, other investigative agencies should bring to a closure electoral crimes to deny impunity a new lease of life.