Saturday, January 26, 2013



P. Anyang' Nyong'o
January 20th, 2013

If nominations for political parties are to be done through universal adult suffrage by secret ballot which we have tried, then it should be done by the IEBC with parties paying for the costs. I approached the IEBC with this proposal a few months ago but I was turned down. The reason I was given was that the IEBC was busy preparing for the General Elections and would find little time for this nomination exercise.

Further, the IEBC argued that as a court of last resort when disputes arise from the elections, it cannot conduct party nominations. It was up to the parties to design methods of nomination that they can handle. It is now quite clear to me that this method of nomination, complicated by having to nominate 5 different candidates at the same time, is a nightmare to all political parties. So why perpetuate the fiction that parties can or should nominate their candidates through universal suffrage? I do not think so.

Let us learn something from other democracies. In Great Britain, neither the Labour Party nor the Conservative Party indulges in this extravagance in nominating their candidates for elections at any level. It is the responsibility of the party leadership and organs to identify the candidates and present them to the electorate for election. The national Labour Party, for example, is always engaged in the exercise of evaluating the performance of the party in all constituencies in readiness for elections. In this regard, it is in constant touch with constituency labour party branches.

There are constituencies which the party regards as "safe" constituencies where any labour party candidate can win in any election. In such constituencies, the party will send qualified party members who are electable to run on the party ticket. In marginal constituencies more work is done to ensure that both the candidate and the party are capable of winning the hearts and minds of the people based on several factors that need to be taken into consideration.

In the USA they have what are call "primaries" where party members vote a preferred candidate to compete with candidates of other political parties in the main elections. The USA primaries are not all based on universal suffrage. There are states, like Iowa, where they use "caucuses". Further, not all states hold the primaries at the same time. Primaries are scheduled sequentially from one state to the other to give the political parties and the candidates enough time and space to organize and manage the primaries effectively.

The rules of competition in both Great Britain and the USA are very clear; they leave little room for ambiguity. Further, traditions have been built over time, which make political competition civil and devoid of barbaric conflicts. Even in younger democracies like Botswana, such barbaric behavior that we see candidates and their supporters exhibiting in Kenya are conspicuous by their absence. So what is wrong with us?

Nothing really is wrong with us except that we have come up with rules and procedures for political competition which are naive and by their very nature provide room for unnecessary conflict. But let that statement not appear as letting some people off the hook; political violence is wrong and the culture of breeding hooliganism as a necessary component of our electioneering must not only be heavily punished by the state but must be stopped urgently. Unfortunately some state actors, through monetary gain, also indulge in it on behalf of candidates. But let us look into the process in detail.

First, it is not fair to outsource the responsibility of identifying candidates for elections to the general public; this is silly, unfair and unnecessarily cumbersome. The electorate expects political parties to identify candidates in the least expensive and conflict free process provided the candidates so identified are qualified, competent, electable and meet the objectives and policies of the party.

Second, the general public should not be subjected to two general elections so as to elect one representative; both the logic and the arithmetic don't add up. The first process of identification of a candidate should be purely a party affair in accordance with that party's rules. In Kenya, a party that chooses to do primaries through universal adult suffrage without having the capacity or technology to do so is simply setting itself up for problems; this is a baptism by fire we are currently going through. If experience is anything we learn from, this should be it: never again.

Third, let us not demonize other methods of choosing candidates as inferior to the universal suffrage route: romance and populism always aim higher than either the intellect or the real world we can comprehend. So let us all take some deep breath and say, in unison, romance and populism are part of human behavior but we should not be doomed for a period of time to walk the political night with both.

Next time, this is what we should do. We must accept that a political party, in the first place, is a club. In Kenya we should be in a position to understand what this means and have a second look at the laws that govern political parties in this light. There is a strong feeling that something is rotten in the way our laws were hurriedly written and amended in Parliament.
While we may be currently smelling this rot, we are not quite sure where the odor is coming from. Let us hope that the eleventh parliament will be able to come up with fresh noses to smell it, clean it up and set up a better modus operandi for running future elections.

Thursday, January 24, 2013



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
January 23, 2013

I didn’t like the mayhem that was visited upon us most of last week in most parts of the country. If it wasn’t happening in Kisumu, Homa Bay and Siaya it was happening in Kajiado, Mombasa and Othaya. And the mayhem, destruction and business disruption was in equal measure. Old tyres were the preferred choice of expressing our displeasure against whoever had wronged us.

I have this strange feeling that elections as we know them are as alien to us in this continent as those who imported them into our region. In better days, in those days of my grandfather and my father, their democracy was a simple process. It did not require lorry loads of imported voters to come and confirm that so and so was the people’s choice. It did not require elaborate long queues of people losing their sleep over an election only to remain in the cold, sun, rain and still return to their homes because some clever chap diverted their voting papers to the other corner of the country.

Our forefathers were a lot cleverer than us. They did not need democracy as we know it today to run the affairs of our society. We had elders and wise men of the village who had taken ages learning from their seniors the art of governance, conflict resolution and even meting out punishment to criminal elements in our society. In extreme situations those who committed murder, rape or incest were ostracized from their communities and word spread to neighboring communities not to give them shelter. The tag itself was punishment enough. The same elders had the added responsibility of recruiting new ones in to their ranks such that continuity was ensured.

Looking at what happened in recent elections in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Nigeria, Senegal and Egypt, one gets the feeling that this thing called democracy is not working for us. We have to find another way of electing our leaders. In any case the very people we strive to elect in to offices are normally the first ones to break the rules of engagement. That is why elections materials are hijacked and destroyed as happened in Murang’a and Homa Bay during primaries. In some constituencies like Nyando, Muhoroni and Kisumu West, they were not so lucky. Voting materials arrived four good days long after the elections were over. Of course considering that these constituencies are all in Kisumu County with an international airport, one assumed that since the voting would start at 6am on January 17 through to 6pm on the same day, a good elections planner, if he cared to succeed would fly in all the materials on the morning of January 16 and ensure they are all distributed to constituency election supervisors. This was not to be.

Prof. Nyong’o himself a victim of this latest fiasco in our election process wrote an interesting article in the local press where he competently cited mature democracies such as Britain, France, Israel and the USA. In all those states he quoted, local party officials have the powers to nominate state representatives, national assembly representatives and councillors.
 It is the reason we never hear of primaries for senators in the USA or Lords in Britain. That is the work of party managers who have all the data on all members including their competence either as legislators, senators, governors or county representatives. We only hear of them when they are competing in general elections. It was the reason Obama’s replacement as Senator of Illinois was not contested. It fell upon the sitting governor to nominate a replacement.

To some extent, what Prof. Nyongo’ was vouching for on the eve of our disastrous primaries was actually being implemented by Narc, Narc Kenya, UDF, New Ford Kenya, Reclaim &Restore Kenya. Ironically, those parties that take pride in large following were the worst hit by this wave of violence. The big guns fell on their swords because they failed the test right from the beginning.

If what Mr. Gichuki Mugambi, the Othaya aspirant is saying is true; that in Othaya nursery school, goons and Administration police led by one of the aspirants invaded a long line of voters at 7pm, put out the lights and chased away voters, why would any civilized person do such a thing in the President’s backyard? It can only mean one thing; these thugs simply don’t understand the kind of democracy the society is trying to impose on them. This ignorance was displayed everywhere in the strongholds of popular parties. This flagrant abuse of the process was more obvious in URP, TNA and ODM voting areas. It was the reason there were riots in Kondele, Yala, Rodi Kopany, Homa Bay, Mombasa, Eldoret, Kericho, Muhoroni, Bondo, Siaya and Ahero.

It is time we changed cause if what we have cannot work for us.

Thursday, January 17, 2013



By Jerry Okungu
January 16, 2013
Nairobi, Kenya

By the time you read this article, Kenya’s primary elections will have been concluded. With that conclusion, many political careers especially in Nyanza and Central will have been cut short. This is because these are the two regions that normally vote as a block, making it possible to accurately predict the eventual winner by merely going through the primaries.

However, the events of Super Thursday put into disarray this norm. Much as it will work for most of Nyanza this morning, the same will not be said of Central where there was total chaos, disorder and mass migration of aspirants in all directions. It will not be until Friday or even Saturday night before we know who will bear the TNA flag in Central region. This confusion has spread to URP and Wiper regions in their strongholds forcing them to extend voting time to the second day with the attendant logistical nightmare of looking for fresh venues now that the government has chosen to reopen schools on Friday.

This year’s elections, the first under the new constitution, started generating fireworks before. With candidates gunning for at least six positions all at the same time, the competition will be stiff and the field crowded. The situation has been compounded by six major parties merging to form three major voting blocks.

Since the stakes are so high, it is expecting that this morning as winners rush to the IEBC offices to hand in their nomination certificates, losers will either be rushing to court to challenge the outcome or heading to other smaller parties considering the rumour that already some aspirants had been issued with nomination certificates from smaller parties just in case.

As I was updating this article, already Hassan Omar the Senator aspirant for Mombasa and Philip Kisia the governor aspirant for Nairobi had already switched from ODM to Wiper Democratic Party and Federal Party of Kenya respectively.

So far, this election has claimed two big names in politics- Cabinet Soita Shitanda of New Ford Kenya currently of UDF and Dr. Bishop Wanjiru. They were found to have fake degree certificates

However, if there are mass fallouts after these primaries, how will they affect the outcome of the main coalition parties? Will party leaders stem the unrest and stabilize the political environment? Are we faced with another face of political realignment before the general elections?

This year’s elections have brought with them unusual political decisions. We have seen political heavyweights retiring from politics without giving plausible reasons to do so. Those major players who have so far quit politics, at least for the time being include three cabinet ministers and a onetime MP for Mandera Central, Hon Abdikadir Mohammed. Abdikadir chaired the parliamentary committee of the all important Constitution review for the better part of the 10th parliament.
It is rumoured that clan elders in Mandera Central vetoed his candidacy and endorsed another candidate for the ODM ticket!

Others who have pulled out of the race include Fred Gumo, the outgoing MP for Westlands, Franklin Bett, the outgoing MP for Bureti and Beth Mugo, the outgoing MP for Dagoretti.
Of the three cabinet ministers, only Beth Mugo gave plausible reason for dropping out of the race. She took the decision on advice from her doctors following her battle with cancer in recent times.

Minister for Roads, Franklin Bett’s departure from elective politics was not taken kindly by his constituents prompting them to pour into the streets of Kericho to demand that he rescinds his decision. However, after he was appointment ODM Election Board Chairman, the die was cast.

Bett’s decision to bow out of politics could have been prompted by Rift Valley politics. He may have sensed that the URP would give him a run for his money, hence the decision to bow out with some dignity. It was also strange that just a few months earlier, Bett was upbeat and even campaigned to be nominated Raila Odinga’s running mate.

Others have suggested that Bett could have avoided elective politics to eye cabinet nominations in the ODM government. By avoiding acrimonious local politics, he would stand a better chance of winning parliamentary approval with the backing of South Rift MPs should he be nominated.

When Musalia Mudavadi’s UDF was being hatched by the Office of the President, there was a strong rumour that Abdikar Mohammed, the MP for Mandera Central would play a significant role. After all, the man had made a name for himself during the 10th Parliament with his competent stewardship of crafting Kenya’s new constitution. However, brilliant a lawyer as he was, there were some concerns about his dalliance with the not so progressive forces of the political class. His ambition to find space in the political arena might have led him astray to begin consorting with conservatives. Now, when political alliances started taking shape, he realized he had joined the wrong company with a real possibility of losing the next elections. He chose to cut his losses.

Fred Gumo, the MP for Westlands is synonymous with Westlands since the advent of multiparty politics. Mr. Kaa Ngumu has fought many bruising battles with formidable opponents for the last 20 years, 10 of which he spent as Kanu stalwart in Nairobi politics. His fierce battles with Haroun Mwau and Betty Tett are still very fresh in our minds.
Although Gumo cited his age, mid sixties as the reason for retiring from the game he loved, eyebrows were raised because he was definitely not the oldest if one remembers that MPs William Ole Ntimama and Stanley Githunguri are yet to call it a day.

Could some of these retirements have to do with the vetting process that will this time screen and lay bare dealings of those aspiring for elective office? Could it be that there are skeletons in their closets they are not in a hurry to get exposed? Could Gumo’s sudden retirement from politics have to do with retired President Moi’s car that was recently found in his possession under mysterious circumstances?

Yes, today is the D-Day when we will know the front runners from CORD, Jubilee, Narc Kenya, Amani and Eagle coalitions who will battle it out on March 4 2013.

Friday, January 11, 2013



P. Anyang' Nyong'o

For Sunday Standard, 13-01-13

The concept of reform ought not to be misused. Nor should it be abused. From time immemorial reform has always been a frightening concept and proposition to those in power, whether we are talking about ecclesiastical power or political power. Reformers have always been an endangered species, loathed by the powerful and cunningly held in suspicion by pretenders to the the thrones of both the church and the state. Kenya's history demonstrates this more than perfectly.

A political refrain is emerging from the conservative side of our current political divide, so-called the Jubilee coalition. During the debate and struggle for constitutional reform in 2010, they spoke spitefully about the reforms being proposed in the new constitution, and they dismissed reformers "with the contempt they deserve." They even introduced new clauses that never existed in the document just to ridicule the whole process and make it look like a joke.

One of the phantom clauses they introduced asserted that when the constitution is passed gay marriage will be allowed in Kenya. Hon. Wakholi wa Bufwoli made fun of this by saying that he would be very unlucky under such circumstances since no man was likely to propose to him!

These conservative zealots went even further: they asserted that dogs and other animals would have more rights than human beings under the new constitution. Tax payers would be forced to pay more money to finance dogs' rights. Ridiculous as all this may sound today, it is a fact that they were uttered by men and women now claiming that they can organize, lead and institutionalize political parties that will truly implement the constitution they once held in great contempt.

In the context of looking for votes from all Kenyans, the majority of whom voted for the new constitution, it is understandable for this coalition of conservatives to ask Kenyans not to look at the past. To compel Kenyans to drive, as it were, without looking at their rear mirrors is not a very fair proposal: it offends common sense. It is, of course, a very dangerous proposal that any driving school would regard as utterly subversive of the cardinal norm in good traffic behavior.

Looking at the past, in our case, may lead to unearthing the deeds, deals and utterances of these priests of conservatism. But then the conservatives enter into a rather dangerous and delicate zone of trying to lecture Kenyans on who is a reformer and who can carry the flag of reform among the presidential contenders.

Having ruled themselves out of the league of reformers, it becomes incumbent upon them to once more deride the leading reformer, historically and contemporarily, among the presidential contenders; and that is Raila Amolo Odinga. This was to be expected from what they had done in 2010; having shot down the concept of reform then, time has now come for them to shoot down the chief messenger of reform, the Prime Minister himself.

I heard a very interesting modification of this mission of conservatives from one of them. The gentleman argued that Kenyans should not worry about who becomes the president with regard to safeguarding the constitution after the general elections. All candidates are Kenyans and hence it does not matter who among them gets the responsibility to implement the major policies and programs that implementing the constitution implies.

If that were so then the concept "reform" would lose its meaning. In essence reform means departure from the way things have been done and may continue to be done if no new perspectives, methodologies, beliefs and commitments are used in dealing with public or ecclesiastical affairs. People, therefore, who have believed in, defended and served the status quo with all passion--including swearing to take up arms to uphold it--cannot possibly preside over its demise once they take over state power.

 Many a reformer have been beheaded, guillotined, imprisoned, sent into exile or rigged out of elections precisely because defenders of the status quo have never stomached the idea that reformers can take over state power peacefully. The alternative to such drastic actions is the pretense that reform can be safe in the hands of conservatives. History proves otherwise, and Kenya of 1969 to 2010 stands out vividly as a living example of conservatives who ran all reformers aground to erect a most vicious authoritarian state in the middle of the tropics.

Those of us who spent many years in the trenches when reform was a dirty word in the ears of the powers that be will not stand by and see the public being duped to believe that wolves in sheep's clothes are now actually the lambs of God. There is, of course, the possibility that a Saul can become a Paul, and that being born again at times actually leads to character transformation for the better. But then if one is not on the road to Damascus chances that one will encounter the voice of God calling one to conversion are pretty slim. And a non believer who cannot stand the homilies of genuine believers is unlikely to be born again.

The Jubilee conservatives are obviously zealots out to preach a religion that believes the past is irrelevant and the future cannot be built on the foundations of the past. That, of course, would make evolution unbelievable and history a subject that ought to be confined to the dustbin of boring fiction. Travelling along that lane would not take us far. Those of us committed to building for the future benefitting from past experience are unlikely to be impressed by that fiction.



Poll: Raila-Kalonzo ticket lead presidential race

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka (left) confers with Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) during the Cord rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on December 22, 2012. The joint ticket of Mr Odinga andMr Musyoka would clinch the presidency if elections were held today, an opinion poll showed January 11, 2013. FILE
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka (left) confers with Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) during the Cord rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on December 22, 2012. The joint ticket of Mr Odinga andMr Musyoka would clinch the presidency if elections were held today, an opinion poll showed January 11, 2013. FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP
Posted  Friday, January 11  2013 at  12:22

The joint ticket of Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka would clinch the presidency if elections were held today, an opinion poll shows.
The Infotrak Research and Consulting survey released on Friday shows that the Raila-Kalonzo pairing under the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) would win the March 4 presidential election in the first round with 51 per cent of the vote.
Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto of the Jubilee coalition would attract 39 per cent. Musalia Mudavadi of the United Democratic Forum (UDF) and the Peter Kenneth-Raphael Tuju alliance were tied at 3 per cent.
The poll found that Narc Kenya's Martha Karua would get 0.3 per cent and James ole Kiyiapi of the Restore and Build Kenya party 0.1 per cent, while 3 per cent of voters are still undecided.
The Raila-Kalonzo fronted Cord was rated the most popular alliance with an approval rating of 49 per cent.
The Jubilee Coalition, which brings together Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, has a 40 per cent rating, while UDF stands at 3 per cent.
The Eagle Coalition represented by Peter Kenneth's Kenya National Congress (KNC) and Raphael Tuju's Party Of Action (POA) has a 3 per cent approval rating.



Prime Minister Raila Odinga addresses a crowd at a matatu stage in Nyeri Town as he campaigned for his presidential bid on January 10, 2013. Photo/JOSEPH KANYI
Prime Minister Raila Odinga addresses a crowd at a matatu stage in Nyeri Town as he campaigned for his presidential bid on January 10, 2013. Photo/JOSEPH KANYI  NATION MEDIA GROUP
Posted  Friday, January 11  2013 at  11:09

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has condemnedMPs hefty send off perks terming it as a betrayal to the people of Kenya.
Mr Odinga said he would advise President Kibaki to reject the package that includes, among other things, diplomatic passports for the legislators and their spouses, unfettered access to VIP lounges in Kenya's airports and a state funeral upon death.
"I have studied the Presidential Retirement Benefits (Amendment) Bill and the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill that were passed by Parliament a few days ago, and I completely object to them," said Mr Odinga in a statement Friday.
"The passage of these Bills amounts to treachery by Parliament. It is an attempt by MPs to blackmail, arm twist and even bribe the Executive in order to have their way," he said.
Mr Odinga said the MPs move will negate the achievements of the Tenth Parliament and the coalition government.
“The recommendations of the two Bills are unacceptable, unjustifiable and border on criminality,” said the PM.
He said the country is faced with a myriad of problems that should be addressed first before MPs think of lining their pockets at the expense of taxpayers.
In any case, Mr Odinga said, the country is not in position to pay each of the 222 MPs Sh9.m each in severance pay.
“In a nation struggling with hunger, insecurity, unemployment, wanting health services, rising cost of education and numerous other shortcomings, I find no words to explain and justify the proposed packages to our suffering citizens,” Mr Odinga said.
“This runaway greed and callousness must be condemned and rejected by all Kenyans. I condemn and reject this package. We neither need it, nor can we afford it,”
The PM said he would consult President Kibaki “to ensure that we do the right thing for the people of Kenya”.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
January 9, 2013

In December 2002, greedy party functionaries sold nomination tickets to losers and moneyed individuals at the expense of popular candidates. A case in point was the bombardment of the NARC head offices in Nairobi with stones by angry losers. Realizing that they were under siege, the profiteers handed in nomination certificates to the protesters through the office windows.

In Kisumu, it was the same story but a little more bizarre. It was alleged that nomination managers holed themselves in a top star hotel and started dishing out nomination certificates to the highest bidders.

The situation was no different in 2007 when a top retired high court judge who was hired to lead the party’s Election Board messed up the nomination beyond recognition. In the aftermath, he was fired by an angry party leadership. In that year, there were a number of party candidates who got direct nominations at the expense of the electorate’s preference. Some of them like Joe Nyagah of Embu still went ahead to lose anyway.

 Some popular candidates in Rift Valley who felt shortchanged switched to smaller parties and won against major candidates. In some constituencies country-wide, moneyed aspirants bought their way into parliament.

This year, there are already grumbles that the same merchants of injustice are at it again. Loud noises are in the air about some top luminaries in Kisumu, Nyeri, Siaya, Nairobi and Mombasa angling for direct nomination.

These grumbles in Jubilee Alliance, Cord and Amani must be taken seriously and nipped in the bud. If there are small fish operatives planning to cash in on desperate aspirants, party leaders must weed them from the party. They are the stuff that can bring this country to its knees.

This is because party leaders must remember that there are many aspirants who have spent a fortune traversing their counties for the last two years campaigning for the same posts. If they are knocked out unfairly, it will not auger well for the country. Such little failings are the stuff that sent Museveni to the bush. Kenyans don’t want to go that route.

This preferential treatment perceived to be the preserve of those close to political parties’ leadership must be disabused. If the characters feel the urge to plunge into politics, they must be prepared to travel the narrow path. They must be reminded that there is no shortcut to fame and neither is the road to stardom smooth.

This year’s elections are too important for Kenya to be handled carelessly and casually. Those trusted with this heavy responsibility must appreciate the magnitude of their duties.

We are holding the first election that is different in all aspects since independence. We are electing more officials than we have done before.

Never before have we invoked integrity and ethics clauses in our electoral system. It has always been a free for all affair. Our liberalism has been a breeding ground for thieves, swindlers, thugs, land grabbers and public coffer looters to be elected our leaders. Only this time we are trying to put a break to this madness.

To succeed in this, let us remove friendship, our closeness to political operatives and party donors to deny the electorate their choice. If as party leaders and election boards we get blinded by the wealth of some of our aspirants, if we turn a blind eye to their excesses, crimes, court cases and their recorded public image, we shall forever ruin the chance to make Kenya and truly democratic state.

We know that there are constitutional offices charged with the responsibility to vet aspirants- thousands of them from all over the country. However, to make their work simpler and meaningful, county political offices must be in the thick of things. Those officials that were elected by parties to be branch officials know the aspirants better and must gather the courage to execute their responsibilities with the strength of character.
Their sense of morality, ethics and integrity should guide them to aspire to be Caesar’s wife in their enclaves so that by the time the names of the aspirants from locations and counties reach the national office, 80% of the vetting process is complete.

This is the reason our new constitution barred elected politicians from running political offices. If you are elected a branch chairman, Secretary or treasurer, be satisfied with that position and excel as a fair and competent manager.

I know this is a tall order, this country being Kenya but we must start somewhere. The clock is ticking against us. We must build political dykes to weather the floods of general elections. We have to be an example to the rest of East Africa and the continent like we almost did in 2002.

We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes that sent our brothers to The Hague. We must be ready to learn from our mistakes.

Saturday, January 5, 2013



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
January 2, 2013

The shaky mergers and political alliances are over. Now we have Jubilee, CORD, Eagle and Pambazuka as the Wamalwa- Mudavadi alliance is still cooking. Never mind that Jubilee and Pambazuka alliances have had their rocky starts.

As Musalia was being ejected from the Jubilee alliance over his controversial stand on the presidential nomination process, Wamalwa chose to bolt out of Pambazuka of Cyrus Jirongo, Gideon Moi and Nicholas Biwott to join forces with his fellow Luhya to consolidate the Luhya vote.

For most of these alliances especially the major ones, the coast is already clear. Kenyans already know who the flag bearers and their running mates are. Now we know that Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Peter Kenneth and possibly Musalia Mudavadi will be on the ballot as presidential candidates. We also know that former presidential wannabes- William Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka, Raphael Tuju and Eugene Wamalwa will be ready to play second fiddle to their principals.

The other presidential wannabes still looking for a miracle to take them to state house come March 5 2013 are Madam Martha Karua and former PS Olekyiapi who have resisted the merger storm. How votes from their backyards will make them turn the tables on major mergers still remains to be seen.

But there is another group of former presidential wannabes that swallowed their pride to save their political careers. They include Madam Charity Ngilu and Moses Wetangula who will be nobody’s running mates. Instead they will run for senate posts in their counties with the possibility that their parties win the majority for them to be majority leaders. However, that possibility is still in the air as they have first to win those seats in their counties.

However, looking at the fractured political scene, there is a real possibility that there will be no party with a clear majority in parliament come next year.
Jubilee or CORD may take power with a slim majority that will be the subject of vicious attacks of smaller parties. And knowing how Kenyan politics is more personal than issues oriented, some of the aggrieved losers will be busy bringing down the winner than engaging in constructive debate.

The morning after March 4th will see two scenarios; there will be some real big names wailing and gnawing their teeth into political oblivion for at least the next five years. These are those who will have lost the presidency and their running mates. Unfortunately these wailers will be the majority. And as they leak their wounds, there will be claims of election rigging and foul play. Others will rush to court to demand election repeat irrespective of whether that the IEBC and all groups of observers will have given the process a clean bill of health.

Looked at another way, one wonders what political strategies Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua, Raphael Tuju and Ole Kiyiapi will have employed if indeed their intention was to build their political portfolios for subsequent elections. This is because in Kenya, it will be difficult to get media attention once you have lost and gone home. Former aspirants can testify to this.

A general assessment of the political landscape indicates there will be no major contests in Central and Nyanza regions. The winners in these regions are already known. The impact Raphael Tuju will have on Nyanza voters will be the same impact Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth will have on Central region.

In Eastern region, it would appear like the impact of Charity Ngilu is slowly being confined to Kitui County where she faces one of her toughest battles against another seasoned politician- David Musila for the Kitui senate seat. If Ngilu loses ground to Musila, the combined ODM –Wiper onslaught is likely to wipe NARC out of Ukambani politics. But like they say; it is never over until the fat lady does her gig. Ngilu may just pull a fast one even if it is only to save her political career.

As usual, Western province will be a free for all affair where every party will be clawing at one another to get the upper hand. However, the contest will be between Moses Wetangula of CORD with support cast from the CORD entire national team. At the opposite corner will be Wickliff Musalia Mudavadi and Eugene Wamalwa who are already facing stiff competition in their backyards.

Chances of CORD and Jubilee alliances splitting the votes in North Eastern the way  PNU and ODM did in 2007 are very high considering that the main political players in the current alliances are the same.

However, the real battle royale will be fought, won and lost in the Rift Valley. Here is where bitter rivals will either meet their waterloo or claim victory. Raila Odinga and his CORD team, especially the remaining Kalenjin political kingpins will want to prove that Ruto’s departure from ODM was of no consequence. Defeating Ruto in his backyard will be a devastating and demoralizing experience for a high flying politician like William. It will almost put his political career in the deep freezer for a number of years.

Ruto on the other hand with his Jubilee brigade will want to prove that he is still the master of his maskan and that he was the factor behind Raila Odinga’s sterling performance in that region  five years earlier.

Finally, when all is said and done; this contest will be between CORD and Jubilee alliances. The rest of the contenders will merely flower girls or at best escorts.

However, there is a catch. The two horses will either win or lose the elections at the primaries if they play dirty games with the electorate. Bungling the nomination process will hand them sure defeat.




P. Anyang' Nyong'o
Sunday Standard, January 6th. 2013

I have been impressed by the number of articles, commentaries, editorials and opinion pieces that have been published in the Kenyan daily newspapers on the ODM nomination process. Radio commentators and editorials, let alone call-in sessions, have equally been preoccupied with the same issue, always putting the party in the spotlight of current political party activities.

All this awesome attention paid to the party over and above other parties can only signify one thing: that the ODM is the party to watch, particularly at a time when it is in partnership with Wiper Democratic Party and FORD-Kenya in the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD). Kenyans have great hope in the ODM as a transformative and progressive party, hence the high standards expected from it.

Alternatively, there could be an even more sinister motive behind this focus on the ODM nomination process by certain writers and commentators: that of trying to undermine and discredit the nomination process so as to diminish the image of the party during this very important process of getting credible candidates to compete and win in the coming general elections. Once the process is discredited the outcome can be equally undermined. Taking incidents from the past, an impression is created that the same mistakes and problems are likely to be repeated. Hence the refrain of "the nominations are bound to be rigged." Recent facts, however, prove the contrary. Let me explain.

In the November/December 2007 nomination process, the party experienced tremendous problems in nominating candidates. There were certain disastrous situations where candidates who were winners in the process actually "lost" to their opponents. The Party Leader eventually called all competitors to the Bomas of Kenya for a meeting which did a postmortem on the nomination where it was agreed that the results would be respected on condition that radical reforms were undertaken in the party's National Elections Board to avoid such blunders in the future.

That exercise was undertaken with speed, and Engineer Phillip Okundi took over as Chairman and Dr. Misoi as Secretary of the Board. For the 5 years during which Okundi led the Board it conducted very successful nominations for all the bye elections that were held in such constituencies as Embakasi, Ainamoi, Shinyalu, Ikolomani, Kamkunji, Starehe, Makadara, Bomet, Sotik, Ndhiwa, Kajiado North and a host of ward bye elections across the nation. Much of the complaints that were recently heard at the aftermath of the Ndhiwa bye election was the result of the delayed arrival of ballot papers in only one polling station out of 147. Indeed the losers had no other tangible complaints save for logistical issues arising from presiding officers who were unfamiliar with the Ndhiwa terrain.

While the CORD must make sure logistical problems do not compromise the integrity of the nomination process, it is also equally important for the CORD fraternity to discuss such issues with restraint and not cause panic unnecessarily among our voters. Alarming statements like "the nominations are not going to be fair" without any concrete evidence of encountered problems create fear  for no reason. The National Elections Board, led by Hon. Franklin Bett, is ready all the time to listen to suggestions that can help the Board improve its performance.

The question very often raised among all democratic parties the world over is what kind of process should political parties adopt in identifying candidates for competitive elections against other parties?

In Great Britain the Labour Party does not involve itself in a protracted nomination process through primaries that resemble a general election like we do. Constituency Labour Parties, which are effectively the branches of the party at the national level, identify qualified candidates with known truck records in the party for nomination by the party leadership at the national level. This is essentially a process of internal democracy within the party accepted by members as effective, efficient and responsive to the needs of the party which is to win elections, form the government and rule the country in line with its manifesto.

In South Africa the ANC  follows a process not very different from that followed by Labour. It is the party organs which are charged with the responsibility of leadership development, recruitment and eventually nomination to compete in general elections.

Many political parties would find what happens in Kenya rather strange. Here people believe that a political party can only get good leaders through an open system where a mini general election is held, baptized as a nomination process, and open to anybody who professes to be a member of the party even if he or she joined the morning of presenting his or her papers. We could excuse ourselves by saying that our parties are still young. But this is not a very good reason for not wanting to grow up!

The litmus test for democracy in political parties is not based so much on whether or not they hold primaries which are like general elections  but whether they conduct themselves in accordance with the rules and regulations formulated by their members, accepted by them and exercised without favor among all members. That is why democratic elections are often defined as struggles over rules of the electoral game before they become struggles over elections themselves.

Currently intense struggles are going on within political parties over the rules governing nominating candidates for elections. Once the leaders and members accept certain rules as fair and legitimate then it is possible to expect diverse formulae used to nominate candidates other than the open primary system. In Northern Kenya, for example, clans deliberate over a period of time and eventually arrive at who the acceptable candidate is. Nobody can deny such a system the democratic tag.

Likewise, there was a lot of hue and cry in certain counties where some leaders came together and agreed on how to support one another in sharing and running for different posts. There is nothing undemocratic about this provided it does not stop any other person who is not part of such an accord from entering competition for any of the seats so shared. Democracy does not mean that all forms of methods adopted in a competitive election must be the same. All it means is that the competitive process must be open enough to allow for multiple choices that can produce ideas and leadership in the use of state power for democratic and good governance following the elections.