• Weakest link in our democracy was demonstrated during party primaries, whereby they failed the democracy test in which people vote.
• Our electoral body isn’t insulated from partisanship, we must endeavour to achieve neutrality in due course.
Merry Christmas to you, my readers.
The year 2022 was the year we all waited for. Songs were composed, acres of prose written, thousands of meetings held, all to win the general elections.
The year started on a high note since the One Kenya Alliance, the once-touted Third Force turned out to be nothing more than a holding ground for some key politicians not to join William Ruto.
This didn’t come to pass since on January 23, 2022, Musalia Mudavadi made his big announcement aptly dubbed the ‘Earthquake’. He did the unexpected by joining William Ruto, having invited him to attend his National Delegates Convention (NDC).
His erstwhile allies Kalonzo Musyoka, Gideon Moi and a host of others walked away. Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya had a joint pact with Mudavadi, it worked!
Azimio Coalition, on the other hand, also coalesced around President Uhuru Kenyatta. Raila Odinga was their candidate, and many moneyed people, including the Mt Kenya tycoons. supported them.
Those close to the powers that be, business interests and anyone who didn’t want the taxman to be sent their way played it safe and got stuck on the side of government.
Eventually, One Kenya alliance split right down the middle. Kalonzo Musyoka and Gideon Moi joined the Azimio side. However, Kalonzo had attempted to run alone and even declared a running mate Andrew Sunkuli, only to withdraw and join Raila Odinga.
He had previously declared that he would be the most foolish person to back Raila for a third time — he did just that. In fact, Kalonzo was subjected to the now-famous running mate interviews, despite having deputised Raila in the two previous elections, he lost to Martha Karua. The latter didn’t deliver the mythical 40 per cent Mt Kenya votes, while Kalonzo did actually give Raila 76 per cent of the votes from the Lower Eastern region eventually.
The Kenya Kwanza side finally settled on Rigathi Gachagua, after a long meeting that lasted for 17 hours, pitting him against Professor Kithure Kindiki, who has since become Interior minister. Musalia Mudavadi who had bid for the position during negotiations ended up getting the Prime Cabinet Secretary position, the same one that Raila Odinga had offered to Kalonzo Musyoka.
Curiously, Raila had already appointed several of his team members into the Cabinet months before the elections were held. These included Hassan Joho as Lands Minister, Wycliffe Oparanya at National Treasury, Eugene Wamalwa as Defence minister and Charity Ngilu was to be given a plum docket as she had not defended her seat as Kitui governor. It didn’t come to pass.
Earlier on in March, the two major coalitions held their National Delegates Conventions. Later on in July, they launched their manifestos, with the Kenya Kwanza one aptly titled ‘The Plan' coming out as far superior to Azimio’s 10-point agenda.
The weakest link to our democracy was demonstrated during the party primaries, whereby they failed the democracy test. ODM decided to conduct an ‘electronic’ version in which the majority of did not let the people vote. Jubilee decided to do negotiated democracy through interviews.
UDA is the only party that attempted to conduct the primaries, yet the exercise was far from being free and fair in many instances.
This goes to prove we still have a very long way to go in ensuring institutionalised parties with clear functional organs that can procure internal party democracy.
The August 9 general elections were largely peaceful. Incumbents having gotten the tickets of the most popular parties went ahead to win the elections, with a record 55 per cent of MPs in the National Assembly having made a comeback. This is unprecedented since on average, 70 per cent of them don’t make it.
However, the IEBC, through its chairman Wafula Chebukati, ensured the general elections were largely free and fair, with all independent observers giving the process a clean bill of health.
This is phenomenal, considering that the elections were too close, with President William Ruto getting 50.49 per cent against Raila Odinga’s 48.85 per cent, a difference of only 1.64 per cent, translating to only a 234,811 vote difference!
Another key achievement of our democracy is that the Supreme Court unanimously endorsed the elections, with all the seven judges declaring that William Ruto was validly elected president.
However, the cost of living was a major election issue, with Kenyans experiencing acute hunger. Livestock including wild animals faced serious starvation. The government has spent more than Sh13 billion on hunger alleviation initiatives thus far.
The year is coming to a close with three out of the four Cherera IEBC commissioners having resigned, with only Irene Masit fighting on. It’s the 4th such body to experience a similar purge from Kivuitu’s ECK, IIEC, IEBC 1 and now the Chebukati-Cherera era.
This clearly demonstrates that our electoral body isn’t insulated from partisanship, something that we must endeavour to achieve in due course. We hope and pray that 2023 will be a calmer year, bringing with it great tidings and prosperity for our great country Kenya
Happy New Year, my dear readers!!
(Edited by V. Graham)