What we can do to ensure foreigners do not get to file the story they came for
Hordes of foreign correspondents have flocked to Kenya, many of them to report on how “primitive tribal Africans” cannot manage a simple election. Monday offers a chance to send them home without a story. To do that, several players must get it right.
There will be delays and long queues. That’s not the fault of the electoral commission. The blame for this lies at the door of the Committee of “Experts” who drafted the Constitution.
The task they have set for voters is akin to doing a complex crossword puzzle while 500 people queue behind you patiently waiting for their turn.
Voters anywhere in the world would find it difficult to fill in six ballot papers of different colours – each with up to a dozen candidates – and then match the completed form with ballot boxes of a similar colour.
The next Parliament should move an amendment staggering the election so that the poll for MPs, women’s representatives, county representatives and senators takes place on a different day from that of president and governor.
Despite the inevitable delays, voters should be patient. Remember the recent election in Ghana was a mini-fiasco.
Many BVR kits didn’t work, and the election had to be carried over to a second day. But Ghanaians didn’t chop each others’ heads off, and the election passed off peacefully.
The fate of the nation is in their hands. Much will ride on how efficiently they work tomorrow. It was disturbing to read how they are still testing their system of transmission of results despite having had over two years to prepare for the election.
Whatever the IEBC does, it is essential that the public perceives any problems that emerge to be the result of incompetence rather than mischief. The commission includes nominees of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga which means it is unlikely they will try to rig the election.
Word is that the two sides at Anniversary Towers monitor each other vigilantly, creating a situation similar to the nuclear deterrent that stopped the Americans and Soviets from going to war. Long may that stalemate continue.
Kimemia and Co
In Turkey, they call unelected bureaucrats and members of the security forces who wield great power the “deep state”.
I have no idea whether the claims Cord has levelled at some of Kenya’s top civil servants hold any water or not. But these people should limit their involvement in the electoral process to preparing a smooth handover, as Sally Kosgei and Co did to their great credit in 2002.
They are useful but not always constructive. The Kriegler report did not limit its criticism to the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya. It also censured some civil society bodies like Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice which Kriegler found played a role in heightening tensions with pronouncements that “lacked a credible basis”.
Reading the report you discover, for example, that the famous Molo returning officer who appeared at KICC claiming he had the real tally from that constituency and who was later extensively quoted by bodies such as the Law Society of Kenya, was in fact an imposter. The real returning officer, Mr Laban Arupe Korellach, told Kiregler he was astonished to see the man on TV reading the “actual results”.
The media should be wary of similar tricksters in the crucial few days ahead.
The task for all Kenyans is clear. Tomorrow, we must send the peace industry into recession and invest all the billions of shillings that have been poured into NGOs in recent years into the real economy.
Murithi Mutiga is the Special Projects Editor, Sunday Nation firstname.lastname@example.org