Worrying clouds are gathering over Kenya. They will need to be nipped in the bud. Make no mistake; the country’s political adrenaline is in free flow, our negative energy levels on the rise.
We need to heed the panic bells. From Murang’a to Kisii and Gucha; and from Nairobi to Kirinyaga, the emerging mood is worrying. We will need to manage ourselves and to manage our fears, everywhere in the country. The political class must be told to speak and act responsibly. This class is beginning to engage its usual reckless gear ahead of elections. The only thing that seems to matter to some people in this class is greed and selfishness. And when the greedy and selfish excite us, we act with wild passion.
We have seen angry young people charging at each other in Murang’a. They are ostensibly fighting for the interests of top contenders for the governor’s seat in next year’s elections. The governor, Mwangi wa Iria, is afraid of foremost opponent, Kigumo MP Jameleck Kamau. Wa Iria has the last word on who uses which public playground for what purpose in Murang’a County. Now Wa Iria has denied Kamau the use of public playgrounds for his political rallies. Someone should tell Wa Iria that this is naked abuse of office. But it only gets worse. Kamau has vowed to hold his meetings, with or without permission from Wa Iria. Murang’a, prepare for trouble.
In Nairobi, too, fear is setting in. Some Jubilee gubernatorial hopefuls have gone into panic, too. Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth has arrived on the scene. He wants to be the governor. Panicky opponents have ganged up, saying they will stop him by all means. What means? They spoke with sinister innuendo. We don’t know where this will end up. Hopefully it will not go beyond verbal display of fear. Experience reminds us to think otherwise, however.
In the triangular zone where the Kisii, Kipsigis and Maasai communities meet, violence is flaring up, on and off. It reminds you of similar happenings ahead of the violent elections of 1992, 1997 and 2007. Elsewhere in Machakos, false and embarrassing alarms went off. The deputy governor’s daughter is supposed to have been abducted by her father’s political enemies. Fortunately the young lady has surfaced. It turns out that she was only enjoying good time with her friends, out of family sight. However, war cries had already begun. And they came dangerously from very high up.
The pick of the basket is two-fold. On the one hand is CORD’s crying wolf about the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). On the other hand are the angry outbursts from the Presidency whenever the Opposition raises legitimate questions about corruption in the Jubilee Government. Confounding still is that these outbursts deliberately seek to suck in ethnic sympathies. For example, President Kenyatta angrily remarks, “He is saying this water is going to (a certain tribe).”
The IEBC, for its part, is a powder keg. The electoral authority has been in the loop for three and a half years now. The country eventually heaved a sigh of relief when the political class agreed on how to reform the IEBC ahead of next year’s poll. The commissioners were “persuaded” to resign and make way for a new team. The process of replacing them is underway, in the hands of respected men and women. Hopefully we will allow this team to give us the new commissioners. But even as we watch and wait, CORD has been intermittently making worrying and unsubstantiated allegations against IEBC. The Opposition has even threatened to disrupt the elections. They have said, “We shall declare that it is impossible to create an enabling environment for the conduct of the free and fair elections. The country will then be called to action.” Read that again, “The country will then be called to action.” What action?
But that is not all. CORD has stated further, “There will be no elections unless the entire legal regime, including the use of technology in an integrated electronic system, is fully implemented and the conduct of free and fair elections is guaranteed.” The coalition accuses the IEBC Secretariat of “working in cahoots with the Jubilee administration” to steal next year’s elections. They don’t specify whether this will be at all levels, but we must presume they are focused on the presidential poll.
These are very serious allegations. They amount to shouting fire in a crowded theatre. It would be useful for CORD to provide the evidence and proof. If they cannot, they need to be reminded that they are placing the country on the path to disaster. Questions about the integrity of elections have become very sensitive in Kenya. They have demonstrated that they can destroy the country. Responsible leaders need to weigh their words. You cannot take lightly words like, “There will be no elections,” or better still, “The country will be called to action.”
Meanwhile President Kenyatta’s public comportment continues to disappoint. His verbal eruptions whenever his government is criticized leave you wondering whether he knew what he was asking for when he called upon Kenyans to make him their President. Did the President imagine that we were sending him to a five-year holiday camp to make merry with his friends? Someone, please tell the President that Kenyans have a right to ask him where their money has gone. They have a right to speak about these things as robustly as possible.
Please, tell President Kenyatta that he cannot stop us from asking him questions about his performance. His role, in such cases, is to give us sober and logical answers that we can buy. These angry outbursts will not wash. And an increasingly condescending Deputy President only worsens the outbursts. The DP seems to be intent on looking loathsome and disrespectful not just to fellow leaders, but to whole communities. When you put together arrogance, suspicion, public outbursts of anger, rumours, threats, abuse of office, innuendo, panic and fear, your goose is cooked. Let us call our leaders back to order.