“Mr. Moderator, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies: I just can’t believe everyone in here is a friend, and I don’t want to leave anybody out. The question tonight, as I understand it, is “The Negro Revolt, and Where Do We Go From Here?” or What Next?” In my little humble way of understanding it, it points toward either the ballot or the bullet.”
On 17th January, 2013, eligible and ineligible Kenyan voters will go to the polls to elect their preferred party candidates for the main election set for 4th March, 2013. Being a weekday, turnout is expected to be very low and subsequently, there are those people who although they have better policies, ideas and ideology, their fate will be sealed on this day. I know for sure that bribery, vote stuffing, purchasing of official ballot papers and corruption in all its shapes and varieties will be the order of the day. Due to the apathy associated with politics and politicians, I bet that only a handful of people will take time off work to go and take part in the nomination exercise. It is at the nomination stage during the selection and approval of candidates that elections can be won or lost. Due to our nature to hop from party to party, the mere granting of a nomination certificate by “the correct” regional party guarantees election, the nomination process then is a high opportunity for the exercise of suffrage.
A lot has been said and written about the reforms and change brought about by the new constitutional dispensation, I tell you this – and you can take it to the bank – on the ground, nothing much has changed. The qualifications, integrity and ethics aspects of the constitutional requirements for aspirants have been watered down to mere mongrels by those in the August House to fit their standard (which is not a surprise considering how low they aim, while the constitution had raised the bar high). It is not just the constitution that has been shelved, but the following Acts also, The Elections Act, 2011, The Elections Act (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 2012, The Elections Act (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, 2012, The Statute Law Miscellaneous (Amendment) Act, 2012, The Statute Law Miscellaneous (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 2012, The Politics Parties Act, 2011 and The Elections (General Regulations, 2012 have not been spared the assault.
Fundraisings known as Harambees are banned by law during the campaigning period, but aspirants are falling over themselves visiting religious places, turning up at funerals, visiting hoods at night to see “their people” and doing all manner of things not compatible with the law. But they are not afraid of the penalties because they know this is Kenya. It now very common to hear ladies and youths being told to get ready with their national identity cards and voters cards because a certain aspirant will be coming over to seek votes. It is disheartening that even people who appear good are forced to go along with this blatant disregard for the law at the threat of not being elected. Sometimes in March, 2007 when he launched his campaign to represent Kamukunji, I had a chance to see Prof. PLO Lumumba in action, traversing the length and breadth of Kamukunji constituency vote hunting. Those who were with Joseph Wandera, Mwandawiro Mghanga, Tirop Arap Kitur and Karimi Nduthu in Nairobi University in 1985 may disagree with my take on PLO. But let us be clear here, PLO is not an angel, he is in fact a blood and flesh person like you and me, but I found his brand of politics to be extraordinary and correct.
PLO with his clarion call, siasa za sera, would go to places which needed structural, social and economic boost and take down the wishes and needs of the people. He also hand a handout that set out his agenda for the people of Kamukunji which we gave to the people. If it was a workshop for the disabled or a place that cared for HIV infected and affected people, he never gave out money, he took up the matter with a view of finding a long-term and sustainable solution. He turned out to be an exceptional character indeed, he was shouted down in Gikomba and Uhuru, applauded in Kiambiu and Biafra in Pumwani, lectured at for not being in ODM-Kenya even supposedly for opposing Agwambo. The man was resilient and stuck to his guns, high on Mbaraka Mwinshehe’s revolutionary songs; he went on to join hands with Maur Bwanamaka and launched Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU) in May, 2007 at the Bomas of Kenya. For those who were in attendance, they will admit that this was a people affair, volunteers joining hands to make the event a success. We know of cause what happened, he was not elected and some character known as Simon Mbugua moved to court and was handed the Kamukunji seat on a silver platter (Justice Fred Ochieng later on sent Mbugua packing). PLO went on to serve on a more prestigious posting at The Ethics and Integrity Commission (Then known as Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission) after the departure of justice Ringera). Although he was letter pushed out when slime balls in parliament conspired against him, I still believe that PLO is one of the best politicians Kenyans have.
Despite the deep political dynamics and the dire state of affairs obtaining, Kenyans, take my advice and guidance and elect people with traits like those which were exhibited by PLO in 2007, no handouts or bribing but a future that is at least bearable. I would rather vote for a person with the right attitude towards equity, governance, health, education, eradication and reduction of poverty after elections than he who gives hand-outs before elections. The results of these handouts is that the elected person ignores his responsibilities believing that he/she bought her position and the citizens lack the moral authority to question his/her decisions.