Magazine article New African

Kenya: What Went Wrong

Magazine article New African

Kenya: What Went Wrong

Article excerpt

We have two reports, presenting the points of view of each side, on the disheartening events in Kenya, a nation once known as "the gem of East Africa". The Electoral Commissioner Samuel Kivuitu has publicly admitted that he had no clue as to who exactly won the controversial general elections. Here, as Wanjohi Kabukuru reports from Nairobi (from a PNU point of view), the irregularities were perpetrated by both sides, and by so doing the equation was altered to become a benchmark of who is a better thief? A big shame for a country that once made Africa proud. Please see also the Opinion article on Page 63.


It was to be a circus. As soon as it emerged that President Mwai Kibaki, the Party of National Unity (PNU) candidate, was closing the gap between him and his main challenger, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the circus became a fracas.

When the final tallying had been done of 209 (out of 210) constituencies, showing Kibaki had won with 4,584,721 votes, against Odingas 4,352,993, followed by Kalonzo Musyoka's 879,903 votes, the fracas turned into a nightmare.

Just exactly what went wrong with the 27 December general elections? What did the over 500 Kenyans die for? And why did over 250,000 people get displaced? How did Kenya, East Africa's gem, find itself in a quagmire of fevered ethnic passions?

While the ODM pontificated from the rooftops that it was not willing to accept the results announced by Commissioner Samuel Kivuitu, chair of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), the reality is that the irregularities of the 2007 general elections pervade across the board. Both PNU and ODM entertained wrongdoing and by so doing, the equation was altered to become a benchmark of who is a better thief?

The very institutions that were entrusted to steer the process to an amicable end have not fared any better. Kivuitu publicly admitted that he had no clue as to who exactly won the election. What a thing to say--by an electoral commissioner!

Five years ago, Kenya stood up to the world, pounding its chest about its mature democracy. Today, it is wallowing in shame!

In as much as the ODM shouts, it too is guilty of the same crime it is accusing its opponents in the PNU of committing. ODM's anger stems from the premise of being beaten at its own game. So where did it all start and who was involved?

It goes back to the 2005 Constitutional Referendum. Soon after the government side, which was pro-constitution, was defeated, Habel Nyamu, a former ECK commissioner, expressed misgivings and confessed of irregularities in the referendum. In his complaints published by the Daily Nation, Nyamu detailed contestable results posted by the "No" side (championed by the ODM) in their strongholds. Nyamus complaints about tallying in relation to voter turnout and registered voters per constituency were ignored. Little did anyone know that this same ghost will haunt the nation two years later.


The authenticity of the referendum result has since been exposed. The referendum vote was not about issues contained in the Draft Constitution. It was all about ethnicity. ODM stirred up the entire country under the banner of an anti-Kikuyu platform. A leaked confidential ODM presidential strategy paper dubbed "Positioning and Marketing ODM and the People's President Raila Odinga" reveals as much.


The strategy paper details the strengths and weaknesses of ODM's presidential contender, Raila Odinga, and illustrates significant pointers on how an anti-Kikuyu agenda would serve the party well. It also draws concordant comparisons and examples of the 2005 anti-Kikuyu voting ideal espoused by the ODM in the referendum vote.

"Owing to this strategy's success during the 2005 referendum, it is the party's position that it should be utilised once more for the general election," the document says, adding: "There is an overwhelming feeling among the non-GEMA (Gikuyu, Embu and Meru Association) communities that the Kikuyus are selfish bigots dedicated to a tribal hegemony and will never share the spoils of government with other communities. …

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