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A regional electoral body will improve governance in EAC

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by ByaseL, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Feb 12, 2010
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    Jerry Okungu

    I HAVE said it before in this column. I am glad senior managers at the East African Community Secretariat are seeing it now. I saw it way back when Kenya was burning soon after the 2007 elections. Let us face the reality of our electoral systems. Our politics are governed by ethnicity, regionalism and in some cases clanism.

    We go to the elections not because we are believers in one form of ideology or the other. We go into politics to control resources and amass wealth for our kinsmen and our villages. Nationalism hardly flies in our brains.

    Because of our psychological affinity to our tribes and ancestral homes, we fight tooth and nail to win national offices so that we can rule and dominate other communities and in the process control national assets on behalf of our people. For this flaw, we go into politics as if we are going to the battle field, to fight to win; never to lose. This is the reason we always cry foul whenever we lose an election because we have come to believe that they can never be fair and free especially if we are fighting against a sitting head of state. We in this part of the world have come to mistrust election managers and the entire judicial process because for many years, we have been the subject of authoritarian presidency, an office that was all powerful and all knowing.

    Just 20-years-ago, it was impossible to differentiate an African President and some European Monarch. An African President was as inaccessible as he was unapproachable. He was some demi-god whose word was law. Challenging his authority in any form was a recipe for dire consequences on the part of the “ungrateful” citizen. We have had situations where all electoral commission members, the Attorney General, Police Commissioner, Judges, cabinet ministers, intelligence and military commanders were direct appointees of the sitting president.

    To complicate matters; during elections, the sitting president would traverse the countryside soliciting for votes using the trappings of power in tow. He would use state security, state motorcade, helicopters and security agents whose main role would be to intimidate both voters and opponents alike. In the Kenyan situation, it was during those moments when new districts would be created, land title deeds issued to the landless and promises of electricity and roads would be the order of the day.

    What this means is that for us in this part of the world, the election process would be flawed many years before the polling day because the electorate would have been unduly influenced well in advance. The reason Kenyans fought when they realized that the elections had been messed up by the then ECK was because the “losers" knew that they would not find justice in the courts of law because, like the ECK, the judiciary had been compromised by the Executive. This fact came glaring when the Chief Justice rushed to State House to swear in the President just minutes after the ECK declared him the winner despite protests from all over Kenya.

    If Madam Beatrice Kiraso and other senior EAC directors are initiating debate on the formation of a standing East African Community Election Supervisor, so be it. It will be the only way to remove the management of this process from the controls and influence of competing forces. Such a body will give the electorate in each country undergoing the process a bit of comfort that a semblance of fairness would be exercised.

    Take the case of Burundi; if during their elections, a Kenyan is selected to lead a team of commissioners across the region to conduct the elections, it would be difficult to mistrust them with the results because such a team would have no direct interest in Burundian politics. And the same would be replicated in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. And in any case, bodies such as the East African Court of Justice, EALA and the Council of Ministers that have been working smoothly since their formation have set precedents. All that East Africans will need will be for the EAC Summit to give the regional electoral body real autonomy and real teeth so that it can go about doing its business without interference from busy bodies and political activists that can never see anything good in a regional outfit.

    We have to get rid of the culture where perennial losers in presidential elections will have every excuse under the sun to blame their losses on irregularities that seem to have been perfected by sitting heads of state. We have to get rid of the culture of impunity where sitting heads of state misuse their executive powers, rig elections and declare themselves winners and continue to rule as if nothing had happened. A regional electoral body would go a long
  2. N

    Nyauba JF-Expert Member

    Feb 12, 2010
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    Well thought idea.
    Africa and particulary EA we have experienced unfair elections ever since independence simply because power has been seen not a solution/direction to bring development to the people rather than enriching the selected few.

    For the EAC to initiate a formation of regional electorate body presents the lingering sentiments prevailing to secretariat members as they are part of the sufferers of the post elections outcomes.

    Can we walk the TALK?? Lets hope for vibrant debate with forward looking to make it real.
  3. Smatta

    Smatta JF-Expert Member

    Feb 12, 2010
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    One of the best article I have read in a while. Implementation and political will are the only obstacles.