ELECTION 2022

VICTOR BWIRE: Election is a process not event, spare us the pressure

The legal regime has to put in place structures that would instill discipline in politicians.

In Summary

• There is a deliberate attempt by the political class to deny us the proceeds of democracy- a free, fare and acceptable election.

• More telling is how difficult it is becoming to get credible timely information on the process or to interact with major players involved in the General Election.

Kenya will go to the polls on August 9, 2022.
Kenya will go to the polls on August 9, 2022.
Image: THE STAR ILLUSTRATION

While the General Election is a continuous process, we continue to treat it as an event, thus making it costly, undemocratic, strenuous, incomplete and far-fetched that we create a lot of doubts in citizens.

By looking at elections as a one-day event whose only result must be the winners in the process, we create a lot of pressure and tension in the country and among the citizens during the electioneering period.

There is a deliberate attempt by the political class to deny us the proceeds of democracy- a free, fare and acceptable election. With a few weeks to the election, people are creating uncertainty and credibility perceptions around it. More telling is how difficult it is becoming to get credible timely information on the process or to interact with major players involved in the General Election.

With over 80 political parties participating in the election, many of which do not stand for any philosophy or ideology, our elections are becoming a farce. And as parties are mostly using intelligence, boardroom selection, guess work or selling nominations resulting in a tremendous increase in the number of independent candidates, voting in some areas will be hectic. Some areas have as many of 40 MCA candidates. If you include the other elective positions, imagine how many hours it will take for one to vote? A punishment to the voters.

Attempts to enact a law requiring political parties in Kenya to include in their registration their ideology and philosophy failed. The proposal had included a strict adherence to affirmative action, manifesto and clear substance of their formation.

Even with the existing Political Parties and Elections Acts in place, there is still serious confusion in the political system in the country and as such we are likely to see the same individuals and parties dominate both the county, national and senate systems for a number of years. The legal regime has to put in place structures that would instill discipline in politicians so that we at least bring sanity in the political spheres of the country.

Reality is that Kenya’s politics and governance system is very brutal, cunning, complex and demanding; the faint-hearted can barely survive. It has no respect for long term planning and can really upset. It survives on quick fixes while resolving around some key permanent personalities and government operatives.

The political system remains the main cause of tensions but it rarely creates permanent enemies for it's not based on ideology. It favours players and some grey-haired professionals in government are critical players. It can really frustrate those who go in thinking they will fix it or improve things for Kenyans.  

The system is dominated by the same people who by extension also dominate the economic and governance system through old networks. Having been beneficiaries of the old system, they also have a hand in the security, judicial and public service. The system occasionally admits and absorbs newcomers, who are quickly recruited to become radicalized defenders of the system.

Those who make it to Parliament go in deeply indebted after spending heavily during campaigns, thus they become vulnerable guns for hire. This has created a situation where those who come into power serve the interests of their funders leaving political accountability to those who finance the parties and not to the citizens. On the other hand, a strong culture of handouts has arisen narrowing the political space.

Furthermore, our big political parties largely operate like personal fiefdoms for founding owners and financiers. Many political parties remain dormant between election circles only to resurface during election time or when clamoring for funds under the Political Parties Act.

Few of the parties abide by the law and can barely give you information about their operations, membership expenditures and source of funds. Save for the noises that are heard after failed nomination promises to Parliament and House committees, no effort is given to fulfilling the election promises or giving alternative voices when the government is faltering.

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