BendAburu Alert... Symptoms of a disease, that affects Kenyans has, yet again, shown up, in the most unlikely of places, the Supreme Court of Kenya.
Symptoms of a disease, that affects Kenyans has, yet again, shown up, in the most unlikely of places, the Supreme Court of Kenya. The illness has staked its claim, at the much revered bench of the Supreme Court, where decisions on any matter, whether good or bad, must be accepted “as court pleases.”
The ailment, whose symptoms have long manifested in various walks of life in Kenya, has shown up among some honourable members of the judiciary. Sadly, demonstrating they too are not immune from the social ill, which is presently having adverse impacts on many areas of our country.
This reality was brought home rudely, by none other than the decision by the Supreme Court, when it delivered a remarkable ruling that overturned the decision by two lower courts’ that had earlier nullified the election of the embattled Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti. Members of the top court gave Mr. Awiti a “clean bill of health” allowing him yet another term. A verdict which surprised many and was accepted very coldly in HomaBay County and beyond.
The Supreme Court has not only diluted, debased, and rendered ineffective the votes cast by Homa Bay voters. It also made the people of HomaBay – and many others – question whether their votes really count! – Peter Ouma Muga
Hard on the heels of this criticism comes a series of judgments which interestingly, we have since learnt, reliably, that there may be other recent verdicts where the affliction also spread after the Supreme Court judges missed the grade in other near similiar cases.
The Disease erodes Legacies in Judiciary
In HomaBay, we perhaps naively, relied on the judiciary to ~ innoculate ~ and cure the Awiti government currently riddled with the social malady. However, the Supreme Court sadly not only failed to place the Homa Bay voter in her rightful place in the electoral architecture, but also performed dismally and lost in what seemed a perfect opportunity for the honourable members to retrieve some of the ~judiciary’s’ ~ lost credibility and legitimacy as a democratic public institution, nevermind rhe lost trust, confidence and opportunity.
The rulings not only diluted, debased, and rendered ineffective the votes cast by Homa Bay voters. It also made the people of HomaBay – and many others – questions whether their votes really count!
Court’s reasoning left much to be desired, for we should demand of the highest court that its reasoning is impeccable and relentless. Sadly, the decision left a state of regrettable confusion in its wake. Legacies have been roasted in the alter of truth!
More deeply, it made people ask whether elections are a time of despair for contesting candidates, and queried whether the efforts of the general citizenry to seek new leadership through elections in this country are engaged in a worthless effort.
For those of us with an unshakable faith in democracy, and believe this great country has an untapped robust potential. The Courts’ decision, went a long way in strengthening our resolve and belief that “the right to vote” is not merely placing a ballot in a box, but the right ~ to vote ~ has an intrinsic value independent of the outcome of elections. A belief, that was actually injured after we cast the vote, in HomaBay County, and then for some reason – and we are not dumb – we now cannot ask basic questions about what became of “the right.”
Perhaps, and thankfully, the Supreme Court decision has had a quiet energizing consequence on the electorate – including myself. Its’ given rise to a bucketful of issues which can rightfully be equated to a medical condition – and which are very much like Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in more than one way.
While PTSD, is triggered by a terrifying event, the Courts decision which also raised panic upon the public who recognized that the interest of voters interest have since ceased to matter— either by experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms which include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event continue to occur. It is not far removed, therefore, that the Courts action is also now a (sic) Post-Traumatic Supreme Court Decision which promises to stay with us for a while.
The Apex Court action is however only a symptom of the well orchestrated nefarious malady And like its mental disorder equivalent, where the symptoms threaten to get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with day-to-day functioning – in full blown PTSD. The top Court (sic) Post-Traumatic Supreme Court Decision read by Justice Ojwang has profound consequences which are in play in our day-to-day lives in Kenya and which promise to stay.
Luckily, the Supreme Court decision has had a profound effect and almost certainly shifted the voter’s thoughts a little. Because any voter – in Homa Bay County and beyond – who earlier had any doubts, is now very clear in their minds on the answer to the question – Do our votes count for anything?
Now, more than ever, the same voter seems to have gained an increasing awareness of the intimate connection between the activities of godfathers – and their go-betweens – in Kenyan politics and how they now blatantly subversion the electoral process to deny voters control of a ‘valuable political resource; the giving or withholding of their votes’.
The ruling read by Justice Ojwang, has successfully fortified the impression that people’s votes do not count in the outcome of elections!! A reality, which even as Ojwang read the decision had the following two serious implications:
- Inspired voter apathy. When voters – the most important actors in any democracy – lose interest in, and enthusiasm for, the electoral system, there is little doubt that it – the electoral system – is in serious danger.
- Diluted the role of the ordinary voter in political parties, and heralds the rise in the phenomenon of the ‘political godfather’ who has the financial leverage to determine who wins an election or loses it, hence consigning the voter who has no such resources to an insignificant position. Clearly demonstrating that political parties would rather invest in attracting “political godfathers” to their fold than ordinary voters in order to win elections.
Hence the prominence accorded ‘political godfathers’ in party formations means that voters will increasingly count for little in electoral calculations.
Remedy for Disease
To remedy the situation needs the likes of Ahmednashir Abdulahi SC, who use their expertise in court when the system is abused in the interest of the few ruling elite.
Further, without a strong and alert membership able to insist on due process and to hold the party officials to strict levels of accountability, political parties will continue to be weakened and suffer an erosion of internal democratic practices with dire consequences when the voters wake up to the reality.
It is our right — and duty — to demand a clean leadership consisting of people with integrity. Every political party should be held to account for this by its voters.
The weakening of the voters will not only highlight the dictatorial orientations, but could also discourage and demoralise their members; on the threat to the foundations of democracy. Yet, voters could ignore both the powers of godfathers and the arbitrariness of the party bureaucracy if they were offered better protection of their votes – which Justice Ojwang and crew failed in doing.
While Justice Maraga and his team in the rulings read by Ojwang seemed to have scheduled his destiny with the dustbin of history by failing to rise to the occasion with wise counsel and strengthen democracy in Kenya, a situation for which history ~and God~ will give them their due. They are only a small part of the game, as you surely will see when the rain clouds in the horizon start pouring ~ read referendum manenos ~ then the voter will gain centre stage again.
I wish to believe it will not be business as usual whether its the dynasties – or leadership elite – now prepare to secure their hold on the voters and secure their position of entrusted power.
Who must take charge
As voters – we must rightfully ask the respective political parties why they have known crooks on their candidate list, and we must demand that fraudsters be removed from the list
Voters deserve respect, but only if we stand up for ourselves ~ as voters. If you accept thieves in your party’s candidate list, so be it — but don’t complain later about corruption.
It is time, and over-time, to take responsibility for the mess that we ourselves, as voters, have allowed this country to fall into. In the meantime, I urge Ojwang and crew, find it in your heart to visit the deprived people of HomaBay, go the villages of this poverty ravaged county and look them in the face – you owe them an apology. Justice Maraga all this happened under your watch please accompany him.
You let us down.
Peter Ouma Muga –