If the ongoing party primaries are anything to go by, then Kenya is a long way from conducting credible, free and fair elections. Incidents of drama and violence have marred the process, with cases of ballot stuffing and vote rigging being the order of the day. Ballot material has arrived late to the polling stations with voters having to queue the whole day, only for the voting process to begin in the evening and run into the night. In areas where the expected number of voters was over 2000, only 200 ballot papers were sent, showing just how unprepared the political parties were. Of greater concern is the fact that voting of an individual is based on tribal lines and the political party one belongs to. Both the opposition and the ruling party are faced with the distress of conducting credible, free and fair elections across the country.
In the early 90s when Kenya finally became a multi-party state, the then president Daniel Arap Moi had one caution: Political pluralism is a threat to national cohesion and integration. Two decades later, democracy in the country is still rising. On democracy John Adams, a great philosopher and the second president of the United States of America says, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” The words clearly bring into picture democracy in Kenya today.
In the campaigns leading to the primaries, candidates had already expressed fears of rigging, although the leadership has remained adamant that free and fair elections are being conducted. If political aspirants have no confidence in the party primaries election process, who are we, the common ‘mwananchi’ to vote and exude confidence that our preferred candidate will be voted in democratically? The gubernatorial elections in Busia County were full of irregularities, with the number of ballot papers being higher than the number of registered voters in one of the areas. In Kisumu county residents took to the streets when their preferred candidate was not announced as the winner.
Competition for the gubernatorial seat especially in areas like Nairobi, have witnessed increasing violence. The actuation of ethnic-based party strongholds has strained the progress in democracy, and has increased violence.
Can we therefore boast of democracy with the confusion witnessed in the party primaries?