Are you electing a lawmaker or lawbreaker today?
By all accounts, Kenyan politics is an expensive undertaking: Chaotic, abusive, divisive and above all a very lucrative industry for the high and mighty who would do anything within their power and resources to get elected to various seats.
Survival of the fittest is the appropriate definition of the game of politics. Fat pocket aspirants retain goons for purposes of unleashing fear and terror on political rivals who could pose a threat to their bid for leadership and wealth in a sea of biting poverty and run away cost of living.
Candidates would stop at nothing to clinch contested positions that seem to bestow above the law status on future office holders and the honourable title dangled as collateral for huge loans in commercial banks.
Noisy candidates of questionable character across the divide are in today’s race after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) nominated some of 241 aspirants against objections raised by the anti-graft agency, citing a constitutional requirement on the integrity of bidders for leadership positions.
The one million dollar question is, what sort of a lawmaker are Kenyans looking for when they can overwhelmingly vote potential law breakers of many shades and criminal convicts to enact laws in the country’s legislatures.
Notwithstanding government peace guarantees, pleas by religious and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are not convincing gestures. Least convinced voters are scared stiff and unknown number of their ilk could, out of fear of chaos already rehearsed in election platforms, are likely stay indoors or avoid government designated hot spots ahead of the elections. Perpetrators of some of the worst crimes during elections are yet to be prosecuted.
Peace prayer caravans and the deployment of paramilitary troops to hot spots ahead of the elections have helped fuel fears of the electorate and the population who could be consuming public relations rhetoric.
“Who am I to ignore chaos signals and stay put to vote for self-serving leaders who cannot and will not protect me and my family in the event of an eruption during and after the election,” remarked a voter fleeing a Nakuru constituency to a safe sanctuary farther west in the country. Going by past experiences, any right-thinking Kenyan would support voters fleeing hot spots.
That no doubt is one of the wasted votes—courtesy of the government unbelievable pronouncement and war-like utterances in campaign rallies. Low voter turn out in some areas is a distinct possibility and few voters who dare turn up do so at own peril or prepare for ugly confrontations and consequences.
The fear of election-related violence is not without a precedent and has since become a ritual in a country notorious for condoning chaos in times of need. More than 1,000 lives lost, property of unknown value destroyed and nearly half million uprooted from their homes in the aftermath of the 2007/8 bloody post election violence. Yet the International Criminal Court (ICC) set free all the suspected masterminds of the post-election violence.
My urge to Kenyans, please go vote and go home to await the results. Make deliberate efforts to maintain peace at your individual level.
— The writer is a freelance journalist—[email protected]