Petitions rectify institutions for present and future

Friday, August 26th, 2022 03:30 | By
Supreme Court of Kenya. PHOTO/Courtesy

The last two phases of this year’s General Election have unlocked another chapter of the political class playing fast and loose with the facts. 

Members are having a field day with the distorted information made available by those who seek to exploit Kenyans’ unperturbed nature.

An online petition on change.org calling for the arrest of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati has been doing rounds. Some Kenyans are dissatisfied with the declaration Chebukati made.

These are the kind of things that define a truly democratic State. The ability to question processes without fear of repercussions. While the outcomes of online petitions range, they are important in establishing and sustaining the work of citizens as government watchdogs.

A number of petitions have been filed with the Kenyan Supreme court. They seek to question the presidential vote tallying, declaration of the presidential elect, fault the technology used and push for nullification of the presidential election. This is all within the rights of the petitioners.

While it may seem like delaying the inevitable, it is a necessary step towards having a more transparent electoral body. The figures presented and disputed by the four commissioners have been subject to a lot of mockeries.

It was an attempt to downplay the seriousness of a critical issue. Kenyans, as expected took the bait and run with it. Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit and Justus Nyangaya in their wisdom, or lack of it, highlighted issues that should be more than memes. After all, even one vote wrongly allocated is one vote too many.

Chebukati might be compromised in his duties. That directly affects the declaration of the presidential winner. This then means that the IEBC is not an independent institution. The failure to announce the numbers from some of the voting stations proves that it was not a transparent process.

Attempts to discredit Raila Odinga and Martha Karua’s petition as a Chebukati war underestimating the effects those involved in a process can tarnish and ruin it. If we all agree that politicians can destroy governments, then it goes without saying that a chairman can collapse an institution and its work.

Kenyans should not just surrender and let individuals bend a democratic process to their will. This is about ensuring that the next IEBC chairperson understands his/her role as that of a servant of people and not a pawn to be used by the highest bidder. Chebukati should prove that he can be trusted to be free of political allegiance and sober in his judgements.

We as a nation are indebted to Raila for challenging the processes time and again. By going to court each time after an election, he has in his own way brought more clarity and transparency. In 2017, he was successful in his petition to have IEBC open their servers albeit for a short time.

In the 2022 elections, IEBC made public several of the numbers through their website. This type of accountability can only be achieved through relentless questioning of the processes.

A viral quote by Jackson Mandago,”usiweke maneno ya siasa kwa roho…” is as true as it is convenient in such a time. It is being used to imply the need to accept and move on even with the grievous inaccuracies noted by different interests in this election. Being silent is not peace.

Complacency is not peace. Turning a deaf ear to the things being outlined is simply sweeping dirt under the rug. “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

Seeking justice through the proper legal channels is a lesson that needs to be repeated to this and the next generations. This will also call into question how our judicial systems work. The Executive, Legislature and Judiciary need to be put up to the task as often as needed to necessitate an overall change in our government. Building a democracy is still our job as citizens.

— The writer is a strategic communications consultant

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