in

Elections should never have been rigged, commercialised

Though NASA complains it was robbed of victory in the presidential election, instead of calling its members and supporters to go to the streets and protest, it has now decided to go to the Supreme Court for legal redress.

The decision by NASA to go to court was received with much relief by many, who feared that, though mass action is constitutional, its disruption of business and work would bring with it a great deal of loss. The ability to go to work and simultaneously fight a legal battle in court will enhance electoral and political maturity. Hopefully, if the Supreme Court will adjudicate upon this most important case guided by the principle of “Let right be done, though the heavens fall,” justice will also enhance our legal maturity.

Apart from acquiring maturity from the way we handle the aftermath of elections, there is also a lot that we must learn from the entire electoral process.

Looking at elections in European and Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom and the US, and comparing them with complaints and allegations of rigging both at levels of party nomination and general election here in Kenya, ours are hell and theirs heaven.

But there is a ray of hope: However bad comparisons are between our elections and the others today, if we make efforts, we will hold better polls in the future.

But we drain all interest and joy from elections when we engage too long in them, often starting our campaigns the day after the inauguration of the new President. Even the most politically interested get exhausted by the everyday campaigns for five years.

When we take our campaigns and elections as a matter of life and death, we kill ourselves with anxiety and strong desire to end unending campaigns. People even reach a point where they don’t want to read newspapers or listen to radios with screaming political headlines.

Our elections also tire because they are hedged upon a conviction that the candidate we support must win and others fail. In the process, we treat competitors as enemies, who we treat with hostility, which also exacts a psychological and emotional toll on us.

That we can treat our competitors in an electoral contest as enemies means we have yet to mature politically. In fact, this could mean we declare a physical war against our so-called enemies after concluding the electoral one. That is why, in many countries, there are post-election crises, in which people on different sides of the electoral divide fight physically and with weapons.

And the electoral conflict gets exacerbated by going to the polls as communities against the others, fuelled by negative ethnicity that treats everybody outside our own as an enemy that must be vanquished and eliminated. This is why all our elections end with extreme hostility between and among communities.

Because many Kenyans believe “all is fair in love and war,” on matters election, we have put Chapter 6 aside and go to elections morally valueless and completely unfit as leaders that can give moral value to leadership and add positive use to elections.

Yet we have done worse than morally emasculate elections. By commercialising leadership, we have also corrupted campaigns and the electoral process to a point where we bribe voters openly and elect corrupt leaders. And their only business is to bribe voters and enrich themselves by robbing whoever they will, including the government.

For lack of values, corruption has become the hallmark of all leaders, who unlike in Brazil and South Korea where we have seen presidents driven out of leadership by irate populace, in Kenya, being corrupt is the key qualification of those who are being sworn into offices they will soon turn into dens of thieves.

But these are bad times for our country. Not only are leaders immune from integrity and, therefore, free to be as corrupt as they want and unbelievably, masses think their salvation lies in corruption.

Both the masses and the leaders have formed an unholy alliance to propagate corruption against interests and survival of ignorant poor. Indeed, the unholy alliance of leaders and confused masses used elections to acquire power by which the rich can consolidate impunity against all crime.

Finally, leaders must not blackmail the masses to vote for them in return for resources or withhold development from voters who may have failed to vote for them. By separating development from elections and political leadership, people must be given state resources for no other reason but their qualification as taxpayers.

How to face realities in business

Blogger Robert Alai freed after spending night in police cell