The verdict marked a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa. ~ 72-year-old Raila Odinga declared as the Supreme Court annulled Kenyatta’s re-election.
Kisumu, the Kenyan port city of the greater Lake Victoria basin and a NASA stronghold erupted in joy as opposition supporters filled the streets chanting songs of victory. There were reports of a security van driver who stopped in the middle of the road to dance, while Odinga himself popularly called ‘Baba’ couldn’t hold back his elation as he joined throngs of jubilant followers to hit the dance floor in what appeared to be a jam-packed club house in Nairobi.
It is no longer news that the Supreme recently upturned the August 8th shambolic Kenyan Presidential Election won by the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta. In its ruling supported by 4 of 6 judges, the court stated that the election fell short of relevant constitutional provisions. It thereafter ordered for a fresh election to be held in 60 days.
Now let us go back a few weeks. Soon after it became clear that the opposition was not going to accept the election results, we had a barrage of statements issued by the so called election observers adjudging the election as free and fair while praising the Independent Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
From America, the former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the Carter Center’s observer mission in Kenya, stated thus:“Kenya has made a remarkable statement to Africa and the world about its democracy and the character of that democracy. Don’t let anybody besmirch that.”
The head of the European Union’s election observer mission in Kenya Marietje Schaake said there were no signs of “centralised or localised manipulation” of the voting process, while at the same time recommended: “A thorough review of technology used, with consideration of alternative means of providing for electoral integrity”. Can you beat such double speak?!
Not a few political watchers know these assertions were guaranteed to please the incumbent as well as assuage the fears of international investors with huge stakes in one of Africa’s biggest economy.
We saw similar statements in Rwanda earlier on in August as Kagame swept through a landslide victory winning 99% of total votes cast. Coming on the heels of a controversial constitutional amendment, which ended a two tenure limit for presidents, that victory hypothetically permits Kagame to sit tight for over 3 decades.
These so called election observers will shamelessly stand on the blood of those killed in election protests and declare to the world that all is well provided it suits the interests of their foreign pay masters.
This pattern of validating rogue electoral processes in Africa by supposedly more knowledgeable western observers has become a norm we must unshackle ourselves from. I remember our own Maradona Ibrahim Babangida cautioning western countries back then to allow Africans fashion out suitable democracies for themselves. How many times have these countries invited Africans to monitor their elections? It is preposterous that Kerry who should be assisting the Harvey-caned Texas residents will mount the rostrum and pontificate on an election thousands of miles away while the US is still reeling from the allegations of a possible Russian collusion with Trump during the last Presidential election
The election observer industry in Africa is largely a scam, we have known this all the while. If there is an issue that should ring alarm bells as they head to their next missionary journey, it is the hilarious but disparaging slogan deployed by Odinga, “Vifaranga vya computer”. That was how he described Uhuru and his co-travelers. Meaning “Computer generated leaders”, the slogan symbolizes the nucleus of modern rigging in African elections.
Gone are the days of massive thumb printing of ballot papers and snatching of ballot boxes. Observers should reduce the resources allocated to monitor the pre-electoral process as elections are now manipulated in the later stages of counting and the tallying. That is where emphasis and focus should be placed. We saw this play out in Nigeria as the infamous Maurice Iwu brazenly orchestrated a scam in the 2007 Presidential elections.
But more importantly, the entire continent should be asking this question. When will the west stop deceiving and misleading Africa? Or better still, when will Africa rise and put an end to western hypocrisy and deceit??? Because your pace of development will always depend on those you depend on.
It is noteworthy to state that however confident as he may have projected, Odinga and many including yours truly could not have filed that petition with certainty that the somewhat conservative Supreme Court would make such a historic decision.
Indeed prior to the court hearings, he had proclaimed at a public rally that his ‘stolen mandate’ which was given by a majority of Kenyans cannot be truncated by a panel of judges. Paradoxically he is now applauding the verdict while his incumbent opponent who benefitted from the ruling of the same apex court 4 years ago is throwing potshots and labeling the judges as rogues.
Be that as it may, the fact that Odinga kept on pushing is an inspirational message to future generations. It was the legendary Jimmy Cliff who sang that you can get it if you really want but you must try, try and try. You will succeed at last.
Some say the Supreme Court only tried to redeem itself in consideration of the harsh criticism that trailed its decision that triggered the chaotic bloodshed in 2007, while others posit that it delivered justice as expected. Whatever your prism of perception one thing is certain, the ground-breaking judgment is another example of the beauty of democracy and reaffirms the judiciary’s designation as the last hope of the common man.
As we await the rerun in the next 2 months let us hope the traveling observers learned a lesson or two that will facilitate their job in Angola when they take on the quasi-one-party state ruled by the powerful and wealthy dos Santos family. For now, let us salute Kenya’s judiciary, be proud of Justice David Maraga and others and congratulate Raila Odinga and his supporters. Together they have put the right foot forward for the rest of Africa to emulate.