Electoral fraud and democratic struggles in Kenya
Lessons from 2013 electoral process
2013-03-13, Issue 621
The peoples of Kenya voted in an electoral process on 4 March 2013. There were six differing elections held on that day with the contests for president, 47 governors, 47 senators, 47 county women’s representatives, 290 members of the National Assembly and 1,450 members of the county assembly. When the election results were officially announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on 9 March, Uhuru Kenyatta, leader of The National Alliance (TNA), which together with three other parties formed the Jubilee Coalition, was declared winner of the presidential vote with 6,173,433 votes out of 12, 330, 028 votes cast – translating into 50.07 per cent of the vote. Mr. Raila Odinga leader of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) was supposed to have polled 5,340, 546 or 43.31 per cent of the votes. Under the Constitution of Kenya, the winner had to receive 50 percent plus one to avoid a runoff election. In this announcement Kenyatta, son of former President Jomo Kenyatta, was declared president – elect.
Within one hour of the declaration of the official results by the IEBC, Raila Odinga disputed the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as president citing ‘massive irregularities’ and evidence of ‘poll anomalies.’ Even before this press conference, the entire process of the 2013 elections had been called into question in the face of ‘technical' difficulties, where the system that had been established for the conduct of the elections failed. Were these ‘technical’ failures in the birthplace of M-pesa, the famous electronic money transfer service, orchestrated to manipulate the system? This was the claim by the CORD alliance as they promised to file an election petition to challenge the election results of the presidential vote. Other sources claimed that there had been a cyber attack on the IEBC to discredit this independent body.
The CORD challenge to what was called election rigging was to be presented to the Supreme Court of Kenya by a team of lawyers. The election petition that was being assembled was arguing that the equipment deployed by the IEBC for the election - ranging from the poll books, computer servers, electronic transmission of results and electronic voter identification - had failed and that the tallying of votes had been compromised.
FRONTS IN THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION
This legal challenge to the 2013 elections brought to the fore one of five major fronts in the struggles for democratic participation in Kenya. The five fronts had been (1) the protracted political struggles – manifest in the election campaigns of Kenya (especially between 1992 and 2013, (2) the information warfare and attempts to control the flow of information about the political process, 3) the cyber warfare which involved the compromising of the computer systems of the IEBC) (4) the legal struggles to be fought before the Supreme Court and (5) the struggles over the devolution of political power weakening the centralization and concentration of wealth and power in Kenya since 1963.
Both Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta represent wings of the nationalist thrust of the decolonization process. The father of Raila Odinga, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, had been a stalwart of the independence struggles and had written the book about the derailment of independence, Not yet Uhuru (Not yet Independence). Western media placed the stamp of ethnic enclaves and simplified the principled opposition of Oginga Odinga to the derailment of the political process as‘tribal’ differences between the Luo and Kikuyu peoples. During the first forty years of decolonization, Kenya was the principal base for western military, economic and political mischief in Africa.
Uhuru Kenyatta is heir to one of the largest fortunes in Eastern Africa and his family is associated with the forces that dominate the Nairobi Securities Exchange. The faction of the political divide represented by Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto was that section of the Kenyan society that had monopolized political and economic power since 1963. In 2007, national elections were held and the outcome of that process contested. Headlines in newspapers far and wide had screamed ‘Kibaki ‘stole’ Kenyan elections through vote rigging and fraud.’ Mwai Kibaki had been sworn in quickly at dusk in order to prevent a challenge in court and immediately violence had erupted as spontaneous outbursts of anger spread throughout Kenya. Sections of the political leaders entered the violent confrontation with allegations that these leaders fomented ethnic hatred and violence. The violent confrontations on the streets and villages of Kenya had left over a thousand dead . Two years after these clashes both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were indicted before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity.
Within the ranks of the Kenyan society there had been a massive mobilization to reform the political system to break the monopoly of power by the Kenyan oligarchy. One component of the reform sentiment was that there should be an end to the politics of impunity. In the planning for the 2013 electoral contest, those opposed to the maturation of a dynastic tradition in Kenya mobilized to prevent a repeat of the vote rigging and fraud of 2007-2008. This reform process resulted in the new 2010 constitution where a referendum was overwhelmingly supported by 67 per cent of the voters. This referendum had expanded the democratic rights of the Kenyan people and the 2013 process was supposed to be one more episode in the extension of democratic participation.
The very fact that the planned election petition opposing 'irregularities' is to be heard before the Supreme Court of Kenya is one of the small victories of the 2010 constitutional process. What was before the people in the election was whether the dominant tycoons could win in the elections what they had lost in the referendum in 2010. This was also a test of the contending forces, because elections as one element of political struggle depended on the organizational capabilities of the competing factions. To be able to rig elections successfully requires a level of financial, military and political capability that challenged Kenyans whether they were able to develop new strategies to extend democratic participation. The majority of Kenyans are opposed to the creation of a dynasty in the society and the protracted battles with the entrenched oligarchs will have consequences far beyond the created borders of present day Kenya.
ELECTORAL FRAUD IN KENYA
Throughout Africa numerous leaders have mastered the art of manipulating elections and the electoral game. After the African Union outlawed coups in 2002 many of the former generals found ways to perpetuate themselves in power through election rigging, unconstitutional manipulations of political process and subversion of their country’s constitutions. Elsewhere, the idea of democratic elections had been turned into contests between ethnic blocs. Kenya had not suffered from a successful coup’d etat by the military but since the 1969 split among the nationalist leaders, the electoral system has been bedeviled by fraud and the disenfranchisement of the electorate. Daniel Arap Moi , the second President of Kenya between 1978-2002, had gained international notoriety to the point where the struggles to extend democratic participation extended to every social group in Kenya. When it became clear to the external supporters of the Moi dictatorship that the mass mobilization against arbitrary rule held the seeds of massive revolt, international forces from the western world financed a massive human rights campaign to depoliticize the struggles for basic freedoms in Kenya.
Under Arap Moi, the concentration and centralization of wealth had rocketed Kenya to the top tier of the African economies. The banking sector of Kenya became the hub for regional accumulation and leaders from as far afield as West Africa found the Kenyan financial services industry a friendly offshore center to store illicit holdings. The real estate sector in Nairobi grew by leaps and bounds and regional accumulators from Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and parts of Ethiopia found an alliance with the Kenyan magnates. The growth of the banking sector (boosted by funds from far and wide), the telecommunications sector, and insurance industry outpaced the traditional areas of manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and transportation sectors. Money laundering from the international trade in illegal substances could easily be disguised in this booming economy as the economic barons hid behind ethnic masks to demobilize the population. The politicization of ethnicity had been orchestrated very effectively by the British colonial overlords in the last years of colonial exploitation in order to divide the forces of national independence and reconstruction.
Frank Kitson, the theoretician and practitioner of British counterinsurgency warfare had mobilized the British intellectual institutions and had stimulated a growth industry in British anthropological circles to reinforce the stamp of ethnic allegiances on the people of Kenya. Kenyan freedom fighters from the Land and Freedom Army (called Mau Mau) had exposed the crimes against humanity by the British and 50 years after independence, some of the survivors of ‘Britain's Gulag’ have been waging a protracted campaign to claim reparations from Britain. Last October the British courts ruled in favor of some of the veterans of the war who had been brutally tortured during the period of savage beatings and killings that had characterized the effort of Britain to defeat the independence struggle. What Britain had lost during the anti-colonial struggles it made up for with the massive cultural war to impose western values and cultures on a small educated elite. Although Britain had ceded power to a small group, the dominance of the English language and culture among the rulers had created Nairobi as a hub for international financiers. Kenyan schools and cultural institutions boasted of their links to Britain while towards the end of the Cold War the US military cooperated with the British to maintain Kenya as one of the cockpits of western imperial interests in Africa.
Exploitation and domination in Kenya took many forms and the more intense the exploitation, the greater was the western presence in the form of differing business enterprises, media outlets, private military contractors, conservative evangelists and international non-governmental organizations. The latter claimed a space within the ‘human rights‘ networks across Eastern Africa and sought to monopolize the intellectual currents. In so far as extreme inequalities arose from the consequences of liberalization and privatization, there was a clear relationship between gross inequalities and regional alliances. These alliances were founded on the political barons whose experiences at primitive accumulation were refined with the years of holding on to political power. Scandals such as Anglo leasing, Goldenberg, Maize procurement followed each other with such regularity that the poor of Kenya were becoming immune to stories of theft of state property and misappropriation of funds. In the period between the referendum of 2010 and the elections of 2013 one former ally of Raila Odinga, Miguna Miguna issued a book, ‘Peeling Back The Mask’, about the economic activities of Raila Odinga as Prime Minister. A second book launched before the 2013 elections , ‘Kidneys for the King’ castigated Kenyan politicians in general but was supportive of Uhuru Kenyatta. What the books really exposed was the extent to which Raila Odinga was a novice in this hothouse of primitive accumulation that was called the business community of Kenya.
This aspect of Kenyan society is of central importance to the history of electoral fraud and the changing political alliances. Fraud reinforced the conditions of mass poverty and regional divisions. Regional differentiation and ethnic mobilization were meant to conceal the massive wealth in the hands of a few. This high concentration of wealth dictated that the creativity of the mass of the population was compromised and the necessary conditions for genuine wealth creation remain stymied. Electoral fraud strengthened the power of those with the inside levers of the networks of capital.
Numerous commentators have pointed to the undemocratic governance and manipulation of elections in countries such as Cameroons, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Swaziland and Zimbabwe to point to the reality that most African states are undemocratic. After the end of the Cold War western agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy in the Unites States traversed the length and breadth of Africa promoting a brand of democratic politics that divorced policies from the economic realities of exploitation. In the teaching of political science, democracy has been associated with competition in elections just as economics is associated with competition in the market place. This representation of democracy has come from the conditionalities that have been associated with ‘development organizations’ in the past twenty years. The World Bank and the varying international organs promoted democratic governance that was in essence one where, democracy is a competitive political system in which competing leaders and organizations define the alternatives of public policy in such a way that the public can participate in the decision making process.
Kenya was one of the bases for European and North American democratic initiatives .Robert Dahl has been one of the most prolific writers on the conception of democracy which excluded issues of economic management, access to economic resources and life itself. Engaged groups within Africa and outside critiqued this simplistic view of democracy to note that issues of health, education, shelter, food, environmental repair and basic requirements of life were very important components of democracy. In particular, African feminists drew attention to the issues of citizenship, bodily integrity, sexual and reproductive rights as central aspects of democracy that had been erased in the liberal conception of democracy.  Feminists broadened democracy even further than the horizons of the social democrats who had struggled to defend the rights of workers in Western Europe after the capitalist depression of the 1930s.
It is precisely because of this tradition of undemocratic leaders covering up brutalities in the name of democracy why the mainstream focus on elections and voting has been manipulated and subverted. Leaders in most African countries understand the ideological biases of the mainstream scholarship on democracy and are aware that democracy can be undermined as long as the basic forms of capital accumulation are not seriously affected. It is for this reason that the writers on low intensity democracy argue for the link between political change and social reform. In Kenya a vibrant grassroots tradition maintained the pressures for social reforms and these pressures brought about shifting alliances. It was within this tradition of social reforms and the elaboration of democratic participation where the elections of 2013 needs to be located.
ELECTORAL STRUGGLES IN KENYA
After the struggles for independence in Kenya, the society produced thinkers and activists who stood at the front of the African struggles for democratic participation. Writers such as Ngugi Wa Thiongo achieved international notoriety in his campaign for justice in Kenya. Other leaders such as Wangari Mathaai had taken the ideas about democracy and basic rights to link to environmental sustenance. As one generation of Kenyans was exiled, imprisoned, broken or passed on, another came up and these battles for change emerged in the electoral contests. The twenty first century had started with intensified struggles to end the Moi dictatorship and this took the form of a coalition that brought Mwai Kibaki to the Presidency in 2002. No sooner had Kibaki occupied the seat of power when it became clear that the economic oligarchs would dominate the political spaces in Kenya. Five years after Kibaki took over from Moi to become the third President of Kenya, elections were held in December 2007. It was this election where the people came out and voted massively to end the dominance of the one per cent that dominated the Kenyan Stock Market.
When the election results were announced, awarding victory to Kibaki for a second term in the first days of January 2008, there was a spontaneous eruption of outrage. Elements from the ruling factions entered into the fray to direct the spontaneous rebellions of the peoples into ethnic rivalries in order to stem the possibility of a wider rebellion. It was in the midst of this violent confrontation when the international forces converged on Kenya to work out a compromise where Mwai Kibaki would remain as President and Raila Odinga would enter a coalition government as the Prime Minister. For one large section of the population, this compromise was a bitter pill but was accepted in order to avert a complete breakdown of social peace. While the mainstream political forces jockeyed for positions, the grass roots democratic forces worked hard to bring to the table the reform of the political system through a constitutional process. This process culminated in a referendum of 2010 where the new constitution of Kenya was ratified.
PRESENTATION OF THE CANDIDATES
The forces of democratic change in Kenya had been campaigning against impunity and international human rights forces joined in this call for impunity in order to be at the center of the political debate. This intervention took the form of the indictment of six leaders in Kenya who were indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. After this indictment of the six, the charges were dropped against two and of the four that faced indictment; two were from the most prominent leaders in Kenya. These were the Deputy Prime Minister of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
Both Kenyatta and Ruto presented themselves as ethnic leaders preserving the interests of the ‘Kikuyu’ and ‘Kalenjin.’ Uhuru Kenyatta represented a section of the Kenyan oligarchy that felt that it was their right to hold on to power. William Ruto had emerged in the last years of the Moi dictatorship and at the time of the 2007 elections had been an ally of Raila Odinga in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Both Kenyatta and Ruto represented entrenched interests of capital. Ruto had received even greater national prominence during the struggles over the new constitution in 2010 when he emerged as the leading spokesperson for that faction of the Kenyan political leadership that was aligned to the most conservative section of religious fundamentalism in the United States. As a conservative populist leader, Ruto did not disguise his deep misogynistic and homophobic politics while presenting himself as the leader of the disenfranchised from the Rift Valley, in short, a leader of the Kalenjins.
Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto created an alliance called The National Alliance (TNA) with the nomenclature of the Jubilee which was a play on both biblical code s as well as the fact that 2013 was the fiftieth anniversary of Kenyan independence. After some twists and turns during the period after the referendum when it was unclear where the balance of political forces stood, Uhuru Kenyatta took the nomination forms to be the presidential candidate for the TNA while William Ruto was his running mate.
Both Kenyatta and Ruto hid behind regional allegiances and petty ethnic claims to mount their campaign. As the campaign matured and the lines of the electoral battles became sharper, Kenyatta and Ruto developed a sharp anti-imperialist posture with claims that their campaign was to protect the sovereignty of Kenya. Both leaders had presented themselves to the ICC in The Hague to proclaim their innocence. Here was a case of one of the most blatant manipulation of the anti-imperialist claims of the progressive forces in Africa.
Progressive African intellectuals had critiqued the ICC in so far as up to the present all of those indicted under the statutes of the Rome Convention were from Africa. These African nationalists had queried whether it was only in Africa where crimes against humanity were being carried out. When the ICC indicted the leader of Libya as part of the NATO war against Libya in June 2011, the clear manipulation of the ICC by the West was opposed in Africa. More significant was the fact that the very same Western Europeans who had indicted President Bashir of Sudan aligned with Bashir to execute the war against the peoples of Libya. The United States was not a signatory to the Rome Statutes but the media in the United States were willing and able to hide behind the Rome Statutes to push the foreign policy agenda of the United States.
William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta used the discourse of African radicals about defending the sovereignty of Africa, especially after some western European diplomats issued statements to the effect there would be sanctions on Kenya if Uhuru Kenyatta were to be elected President. The assistant Secretary of State for Africa in the State Department , Johnny Carson, inflamed the ‘anti-imperialist’ posture of the TNA leaders when he issued a statement to the effect that there would be ‘consequences’ if the leaders of the Jubilee alliance were elected in the elections. The planning for the elections of 2013 had attracted international attention because of the confluence of national, regional and international issues that hinged on the outcome of the elections.
4 MARCH 2013: FRAUD OR TECHNICAL FAILURES?
For the peoples of Kenya the 2013 electoral contests were the first to be held under the new Constitution. The Constitution had provided for a devolved system of government which replaced the 8 provinces of Kenya with 47 counties. On March 4 there were six elections held on one day. An elaborate system of the sharing of National revenues had been worked out in order to break the concentration and centralization of wealth and power in Nairobi.
The election campaign had been unrelenting from the end of the period of the Referendum in 2010 and picked up momentum in the last months of 2012. As the campaign intensified, there were signs that the technical capabilities of the IEBC were flawed. In February, the chairperson of the telecommunications company Safari com, Mr. Collymore had warned the public over possible electoral hitches. In a letter dated 21 February 2013, Mr Collymore pointed out the shortcomings of the technical capabilities that could ‘seriously compromise the IEBC’s ability to execute a credible election.’ This warning from the top service provider of cell phone service in Kenya brought this company into the center of the fray after the court challenge subsequent to the announcement of the election results on Saturday March 9. The CEO of Safaricom Had urged Hassan to pursue technical testing of stress loads, mobile handsets and website security. One other prelude to the election was the announcement by the Chief Justice, Dr. Willy Mutunga, that he had been threatened and intimidated by sections of the intelligence services when he was about to leave the country. Mutunga issued a statement reaffirming the independence of the Judiciary under the new Constitution.
THE PEOPLE VOTED
On the morning of 4 March, people woke early to go to the polls and found that by 5 am there were long lines of anxious citizens who wanted to exercise the franchise. People waiting for eight to ten hours and as the international media queried why there had been so much patience to vote, those who responded overwhelmingly declared that they had waited five years for this new chance to vote. Numerous stories were carried in the press of the sacrifices of the people as they waited to vote. Billions of Kenya shillings (over one hundred million dollars) had been invested in new technologies to ensure a smooth flow of the election but as soon as the polling started there were reports of the breakdown of the voter identification system. Electronic voter identification kits failed forcing the IEBC to manually register and identify voters. Prior to the elections, Kenyans had been feted in the international media as a new base to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa where young Kenyans were at the forefront of innovative rollouts to increase cell phone and computer usage in Kenya. Yet, on the very day that this expertise was needed, the entire system broke down. As reported in the newspapers, ‘Kenyans witnessed the failure of virtually every instrument the IEBC had deployed for the elections: the poll books, the servers, the telephone transmission, the BVR – biometric voter registration- - they all failed despite the billions spent on acquiring them.’
The people of Kenya were shaken as the systems broke and differing reports were trickling in as to the cause of the breakdown of the system. Here was a replay of 2007 elections when it was not possible to believe the figures that were being reported.
According to the East African newspaper, the credibility of the process was undermined.
‘During voting on Monday the electronic voter identification kip procured late last year to identify voters failed, forcing the IEBC to switch to manual identification- a system that was castigated in 2007 election which was marred by rigging claims. The challenges did not end there. The electoral body was supposed to transmit election results from the polling centers electronically to the tallying center in Nairobi, from where they would be broadcast throughout the country. Afterwards, polling heads from the country’s 290 constituencies would physically take the hard copies of the results to the national tallying centre. The IEBC had to verify the results sent electronically before announcing the final results to the public. All of this was expected to be done in 48 hours after the polls closed, even though the law grants the poll body seven days after the voting to announce the results. But the electronic system failed, forcing the electoral body to adopt the manual tallying system.
According to the IEBC chairman, the fault was due to a programing error which he said resulted from a conflict between the IEBC server and the database resulting in the system multiplying the number of rejected votes by eight. At some point the total votes counted at 5.6 m, the number of rejected votes were at 338, 592.’
As reported in the East African, ‘Polling clerks, frustrated by passwords that did not work and batteries that had not been charged, among other glaring mistakes, were forced to resort to manual identification of voters. The use of kits was meant to stop multiple voting an end such practices as people voted using the names of long dead voters.’
ELECTORAL FRAUD AGAIN?
Instead of the results being announced after 48 hours, Kenyans were gripped by the conflicting reports coming out of the HQ of the IEBC about the causes of the technical problems. From the reporting, despite minor problems with the other five electoral contests, the major problem was with the tallying of the results of the Presidential election. It soon became obvious from the press reports that there had been massive interference with the system at numerous levels, at the polling station, with the tampering with the registration kits, with the breakdown of the computing system and with the inconsistent reportage of the election results. The IEBC was embarrassed when it was coming out that in some centers the number of votes counted exceeded the number of registered voters.
Two days after the elections electronic tallying was discarded and counting began afresh manually. Under these conditions, the IEBC withdrew the verification of the results with the polling agents from the 8 Presidential candidates. After the removal of the polling agents , the vote counting process was not transparent. By 7 March, one nongovernmental organization went to Court to try to stop the counting. The African centre for open Governance (Africog) presented a case to the High Court saying that they had uncontroverted evidence’ of inconsistencies and votes that were more than the registered voters. Africog questioned why the IEBC had resorted to manual tallying of the votes and the fact that the technical failures were not explained to the electorate.
This complaint had been followed but by another from the Vice presidential candidate of CORD, Mr Musyoka. The press conference of the VP of CORD was hardly covered by the local media and gave an indication of the layered organizational capabilities of the TNA. Not only did the campaign and publicity of the TNA exude the amount of financial resources available to the Uhuru Kenyatta camp, but the information operations of the TNA were superior to all the other parties combined. By Friday evening, the ways in which the reportage of the results were being managed by the print and TV forces demonstrated the fact that the population was being prepared for a victory by Uhuru Kenyatta. After midnight on 8 March, the citizens were told that election results would be announced at 11am on 9 March. By 2 am the IBEC released more results and by morning the dominant news outlets were carrying stories of the massive victory of Uhuru Kenyatta.
When citizens went to sleep, it was not clear that Uhuru Kenyatta had reached the threshold of avoiding a runoff election. By mid-afternoon the IEBC announced the results with Uhuru Kenyatta designated as president elect. Apart from the declaration of the Presidential results, it was announced that CORD won 23 of the 47 senate seats, with 19 for Jubilee, the Amani Coalition of Musalia Mudavadi won – 4 Senate seats, while the Alliance Party won two senate seats. In the Parliament – of 291 MP’s Jubilee won 159, to CORD 139. Jubilee controlled most of the counties – won 21 governor seats, CORD 20 governor seats and seven shared among other independent parties
International election observers stated that the polls were credible but immediately Raila Odinga on behalf of the CORD coalition called a press conference stating that the results were flawed and did not reflect the will of the voters.
THE COURT CHALLENGE
Within minutes after the IEBC delivered their results, Raila Odinga called a press conference and stated that the IEBC had delivered another ‘tainted elections.’ Odinga stated that,” we thought that this would never happen again. It most regrettably did. But this time we have a new independent judiciary in which we in CORD and most Kenyans have faith. It will uphold the rule of law and we will abide by its decision.” Even while international praise was being showered on the victor, the CORD alliance was assembling a team of lawyers to present a petition to the Supreme Court that the results were not credible. Under the law, the IEBC was supposed to turn over the information of the voting tallies to any Court challenge, but had been refusing to cooperate with the Court challenge.
Kenyan citizens had voted and waited patiently to hear from the Chief Justice. Willy Mutunga had emerged from over thirty years of the anti-dictatorial struggles in Kenya to become the Chief Justice. On Monday March 11, he made a clear press statement that the Supreme Court would hear the petition without fear or favor. The fourth leg of the 2013 democratic struggles had been joined as Kenyans braced to the full information of the case to be presented to the High Court by CORD.
In 2007, Mwai Kibaki had been hurriedly sworn in even before the people had digested the results. Under the new reform constitution of Kenya there had to be 14 days between the election and the swearing in of the new President. In this 14 day period, any citizen had the right to present an election petition within seven days. This article of the constitution had been one small reform that guaranteed that Uhuru Kenyatta would not be sworn in while there were court challenges. Even in the face of the challenge, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto began to play out the part as new leaders while for proper theater, they both went to church services with the press publishing pictures of Ruto shedding tears of joy.
The local and international media were replete with stories that Kenyans had voted on the basis of ‘tribal’ affiliations’ ignoring the real information about the Kenyatta’s commercial interests – banking, insurance , agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and many other enterprises tied to western interest. The issues of the possibility of a Kenyan dynasty began to emerge as Kenyatta traveled to Gatundu, the seat of power under Jomo Kenyatta 1963-1978. It was the visual images of this new Kenyatta at Gatundu that brought out clearly the issues of theft and primitive accumulation over the past fifty years.
During the presidential debates, Uhuru Kenyatta had admitted that in one part of Kenya he only had 30,000 hectares. In a society with mass poverty and landlessness this casual remark reminded the people that the millions of Kikuyus were not landlords like Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta declared that the 2013 elections were the fairest and freest in Kenya’s history while numerous heads of states showered accolades on the peaceful electoral process. As the new battles of the democratic struggles went to the courts, Kenyans were being patient in so far as they understood that the entire process of reform that brought about this stage of democratic contest had emerged from fifty years of anti-dictatorial struggles. The devolved constitution had provided a template that could be a model for local self-determination as the pressures of African unification pushed the process of the full unity of the peoples of Africa.
Kenyans had turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise because they had placed their faith in the new devolved Constitution that they had struggled to bring into force.
The Jubilee coalition has argued through their spokespersons that the elections represented the will of the Kenyan people. CORD argues that the tally was manipulated to avoid a runoff and second round of elections. If Jubilee was so confident then they ought to cooperate with the legal process and fight the fight if and when a ruling is made by the Supreme Court.
In November 2010, Hosni Mubarak and his party announced that they had won 80 per cent of the votes in the elections. Four months later, the people organized themselves in a massive rebellion that drove Mubarak from power. The emergence of new social forces such as Asma Mafhouz was one indication that a new wind was blowing over Africa as the poverty and exploitation intensified in this period of crisis. Kenya is now awaiting its own Asma Mafhouz moment as the more far sighted members of the oligarchy understand that political power cannot be monopolized by one section of the capitalist class. This is the new stage of the struggle for democracy as the people.
* Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is also a Special invited Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of the forthcoming book, ‘Global NATO and the catastrophic failure in Libya’.
1. Democracy Shireen,’ From Presence to Power: Women's Citizenship in a New Democracy’, Agenda, No. 40, Citizenship (1999)
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