I know it is a bit premature, but it looks like President Uhuru Kenyatta is finding his groove as president of a perilously divided Kenya. The meeting held at the State House on April 13, 2013 between the president, his deputy William Ruto and CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka gave this Kenyan a reason to be optimistic about the tone of leadership and types of leaders the country of his birth elected into office. The picture on the front page of the Daily Nation dated April 13, 2013 of the four men sharing a hearty laugh is, to use a cliché, priceless! That picture is one of intense political rivals who appear able to put aside their deep oftentimes acrimonious political rivalry for the greater good (of a country divided). Indeed this is one picture that is worth more than a thousand words. Hopefully the increasingly rabid supporters of the two sides can take their cue from said picture and cool down the tension, especially online.
Add to the State House meeting between the two top candidates of the just-concluded presidential contest and their deputies the fact that on Friday, April 19, the two men – Uhuru and Raila – both attended the burial of the late Secretary-General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) David Okuta Osiany in Nyando, near Kisumu. Reports of the two principals walking hand-in-hand towards the grave of the late leader of the teachers’ union is a powerful image that will go a long way in endearing Mr. Kenyatta towards a Luo community that overwhelmingly voted for Raila Odinga. The visuals of the president and his erstwhile challenger reportedly walking hand-in-hand towards the grave of Mr. Osiany is one that should be played and re-played over and over again until it is seared in the collective minds of all Kenyans, especially the two communities represented by the president and his “older brother.”
I will argue that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s overtures towards Mr. Okuta, and by extension the Luo community from which the dearly-departed hailed, has been the polar opposite of his father’s behavior towards said community. Kenyatta Pere’s conduct towards his chief political rival Oginga Odinga, indeed towards the Luo community during his presidency, came across as condescending, disrespectful and full of disdain. One can make a compelling argument that his government’s policies towards the region (Nyanza) were consistent with the fore-going characterization. Additionally, the July 1969 murder of Tom Mboya, supposedly on the orders of the “Big Man” (rumored to be Jomo Kenyatta or someone very close to him) started the alienation of the Luo community from the country’s leaders. Add to the anguish and fury over Mboya’s death, the war of words that erupted between Kenyatta Pere and Odinga Pere during the opening of the New Nyanza General Hospital in Kisumu in October 1969. The acerbic verbal exchange between the two doyens of Kenya’s post-independence politics and the ensuing violent and disproportionate response by Kenyatta’s security towards the predominantly Luo crowd in that charged atmosphere that resulted in the death of hundreds (of Luos) only firmed alienation of the community from a government they all believed was unfair and responsible for the death of one of their own (Tom Mboya)!
Granted the president and his deputy were inaugurated less than two weeks ago on April 9, 2013 for a two hundred and sixty week-term in office i.e. 5yrs x 52weeks/year. Additionally, Mr. Kenyatta is yet to name his cabinet which he claims will “reflect the true face of Kenya.” Finally, it is important to note that the parliament and the public has yet to begin the vetting process on the selected members of Kenyatta’s cabinet; a process that can be very messy and has been described stateside as “making sausage.” The latter – making sausage – is an expression that alludes to the ugliness of the sausage-making process that includes blending animal parts that most people do not normally eat by themselves with spices and other additives to produce sausage, a product most people gladly devour without hesitation! It will be interesting to see how Mr. Kenyatta deals with the process previously seen by his predecessors including his father Jomo Kenyatta and those around them as their opportunity to “eat matundu ya uhuru.” In a clear illustration of the adage “elections have consequences,” the deal-making and backroom power-sharing agreements between the winners collectively have the potential to further widen the gulf between the various communities represented by Uhuru’s Jubilee Coalition and Raila’s CORD.
It is my hope that Mr. Kenyatta’s actions since the Supreme Court ruled in his favor are beyond symbolic and definitely not photo-ops – photo opportunities i.e. carefully planned and recorded events often masked as news(worthy) and intended to present those in the photograph, in this case Mr. Kenyatta, in a positive light. I hope Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto make decisions that support the positive start and statements they have made and have been making early in their administration. I will take it a step further and opine that the president and his deputy should worry more about the advise offered by those around them than about what Raila and Kalonza will do next. Kenya’s history is littered with presidential aides and others with access to the corridors of power who acted selfishly by lining their pockets and fattening their bank accounts while claiming to act on “behalf of Bwana Mkubwa” or “The Big Man.” It is the actions of these selfish individuals that tend to erect a bubble/filter around the president thereby alienating him from the plight of everyday citizens.
Uhuru can put an end to this cycle by ensuring that his administration does not join the pantheon of corrupt and tribalistic administrations of yesteryears nor reflect the tyranny of the majority as embodied by the jingoism and hubris reflected in the comments made in cyberspace by his supporters.
- Number of votes separating Uhuru and Raila: 832,887 or 6,173,433 vs. 5,340,5463
- IEBC budget for providing the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits: kshs. 3.82billion1
- Number of bids to supply the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits: 41
- Highest bid: kshs. 8.31billion (OnTrack, Israel)1
- Lowest bid: kshs. 3.76billion (4G ID Solutions, India)1
- Winning bid: kshs. 4.63billion (Face Technology, South Africa – 2nd highest bid)1
- Difference between reported IEBC budget for BVR Kits and winning bid: ~kshs. 810Million over budget (4.63b – 3.82b)
- Poll data source/location analyzed/presented to Supreme Court by Ms. Kethi Kilonzo: 32
- Total number of polling stations in the country: 33,4003
- % of polling stations whose no. of registered voters differ from the no. of votes cast/reported by the IEBC: 0.0001%2
- The increase in Mr. Kenyatta’s vote count in Nyeri due to discrepancy between votes – county vs. IEBC: 0.31% or 317,881 vs. 318,8802
- The decrease in Mr. Odinga’s vote count in Nyeri due to discrepancy between votes – county vs. IEBC: 7.8% or 6,075 vs. 5,6382
- % difference between registered voters and votes tabulated as received in Charity Primary School Kieni : 31,000% or 1 registered voter vs. 310 votes received2
- % difference between registered voters and final votes tallied/reported in Machakos Town: 2,546% or 125 registered voters vs. 3,182 votes tallied/reported2
- Lowest discrepancy noted: 0.31% in Nyeri2
- Highest discrepancy noted: 31,000% in Kieni, Nyeri2
- % gap between Uhuru and Raila: 6.76% or 50.07% vs. 43.31%3
- The total number of constituencies in the country – 291 (including Diaspora)3
1 – Source: Africa’s Public Procurement & Entrepreneurship Research Initiative (APPERI), Kenya: IEBC Tender Team Quits over Biometric Deal, July 16, 2012.
2 – Source: Presentation by Kethi Kilonzo before Supreme Court, Daily Nation, March 27, 2012, The Poll was a fraud on voters, argues lawyer.
3 – Source: IEBC Website (link from previous post http://www.kenyaelections.com/wp-content/uploads/SUMMARY-OF-2013-PRESIDENTIAL-RESULTS-DECLARED-ON-9_3_2013.pdf)
Kensanity (noun); Ken-san-i-ty: the practice of accepting or tolerating corruption and incompetence as long as it keeps one of “ours” in power and prevents those “others”/”foreigners” from doing unto “us” what we do unto “them”. Kensanity: A portmanteau of the words “Kenya” and “insanity”.
Kenyans are once again in the throes of a disputed presidential election and as was the case in the prior dispute in 2007; they are forced to wait until an organization other than the body charged with overseeing the elections decides the legitimacy of the election results. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Kenyans had to sit on pins and needles until Dr. Kofi Annan crafted a power-sharing agreement between out-going POK Mr. Mwai Kibaki and current challenger, CORD’s Raila Odinga in 2007. The incompetence of the Election Commission of Kenya (ECK) caused ethnic violence that earned the president-elect and his vice – Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto – a date with the good folks at The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity! It was also during that time when Kenyans heard the late head of the Election Commission of Kenya Mr. Samuel Kivuiti famously say that “he doesn’t know who won the (2007) elections” even though the charter of the organization he headed at the time included the seemingly simple and yet obviously lofty goal of being “…a model electoral commission that will manage free, fair, credible and professional elections…” It was also in 2007 when Mr. Mwai Kibaki was surreptitiously and hurriedly sworn in by a political appointee Chief Justice Evans Gicheru in a cagy ceremony attended by a handful of loyalists one (1) hour after Kivuiti’s team had bungled the elections and set the country ablaze!
Fast-forward to 2013 and the country is again faced with the apparent failure of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), another bureaucracy whose website offered the error message “Fetching of original content failed with the following error: Proxy Publisher Failure CONNECTION_ERROR. If you own this domain, please consult this FAQ” on March 25, 2013 @12:21PM Pacific Standard Time when this article was being drafted! I visited the organization’s website to get information on its charter and/or mission statement to see how either lined up with its current performance! That I received an error message, presumably from the organization’s server, is fitting given one of the issues at the center of IEBC’s current morass – servers that crashed or as inelegantly put by the chairman Mr. Hassan Issack; “experienced a database query problem resulting from high traffic” thus crashing the electronic system and forcing the IEBC to resort to manual tallying of the votes which were at the root of the 2007 fiasco! And here I thought it was only the Romney campaign team that was still living in the era of the typewriter and dot-matrix printers! To add insult to injury, it is also being revealed in the on-going investigation of yet another bungled management of an election, that the tender awarded to Face Technologies of South Africa to provide the voter registration kits was mired in irregularities. I am shocked; absolutely shocked that an issue in Kenya involving oodles of money is steeped in irregularities and possible wrong-doing – please note the dripping sarcasm!
On the other hand and given the definition of my newly-coined portmanteau “Kensanity,” it makes perfect sense that the tender was awarded to the second-most expensive bid which was almost kshs. 1billion ABOVE the body’s (IEBC) budget! The Daily Nation of March 25, 2013 reported that the team charged with overseeing the tender process resigned because “it could not go on with the work because it was being judged harshly on a number of issues by people who did not have full disclosure of what was happening.” The unnamed IEBC member went on to say that they “were for sure uncomfortable with the pressure that was being piled on them by various quarters…” Let me see if I get this right: The very people who were most likely paid princely sums of money because they were supposedly qualified and able to manage an election are now saying that they cannot handle being called to account for their incompetence?
People, how many times are we going to see this movie? And how many times are we, as a society, going to allow corruption, incompetence and the various permutations of “isms” to affect our lives to the point of “killing the goose (Kenya) that lays the golden egg (a vibrant and capable country)?” And just out of morbid curiosity, are we going to hold to account those responsible for the current fiasco? The elections currently being litigated are coming in the wake of the elections of 2007 whose results yielded an orgy of ethnic violence. This alone should have been motivation for all those who claim to love Kenya to demand an election devoid of the chicanery of 2007: No patriotic Kenyan should have been part of a decision that risked an event similar to the tragic paroxysms of 2007. That we seemed to be facing the same situation we faced six years ago is indeed the latter half of my portmanteau – insanity. As a country we seemed to be doing the same over and over again and expecting a different result.