Dealing firmly with offenders will set precedent for 2017 poll

In the Malindi by-election, the conduct of both the opposition and Jubilee was disgraceful.

Friday March 11 2016

By MUTUMA MATHIU
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Where I come from, a man does not stand idly as a woman is brutalised, humiliated, and stripped in broad daylight.

He is expected to intervene and save the woman’s honour irrespective of whatever crime she is believed to have committed.

In the old days, if she was a very bad person, she would be convicted by a council and stuffed in a bee hive, then rolled down a steep hillside until she was dizzy.

To be a leader, you must love people. If you do not love real, breathing humans, you must at least love the theory, the abstract.

Because leadership is about taking care of people, not robbing them, brutalising them, or killing them when they do not vote for you or because they come from another tribe; taking care of them.

So if you watch as a woman is beaten by political thugs and you do nothing about it, you are a useless, cowardly guy pretending to be a leader. You are fake.

If the lunacy we saw in the Malindi and Kericho by-elections is a sign of what is in store in the 2017 elections, then we are in for a rough ride.

DISGRACEFUL CONDUCT

In the Malindi parliamentary by-election, the conduct of both the opposition and Jubilee was disgraceful.

The parachuting in of MPs from other parts of the country, especially characters with a violent disposition such as Ferdinand Waititu, was a clear sign that the party did not learn the lessons of 2007.

Tension and violence hurt the public. Jubilee is in power. It did not need to flood the area with its supporters from elsewhere.

It needed to allow the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the police, as well as election observers and monitors to do their jobs.

A question should also be asked whether the police were even-handed in the treatment of those involved in illegal activities.

They arrested and locked up an ODM official. Can they charge him and have him punished? Did they deal with Jubilee officials in the same manner?

The Orange party, which played a starring role along with PNU in the post-election violence in 2007, once more demonstrated a tendency to hooliganism.

Gangs, some armed, roughed up and robbed people they accused of bribing voters.

It was just an excuse to unleash terror on the supporters of their opponents and scare away the political tourists who had been parachuted in by Jubilee.

Mr John Rafiki, Mr Godfrey Karume, Mr Stephen Menza, and Mr Patrick Tingani all have a story to tell.

They were attacked and nearly killed by gangs for the nebulous offence of bribing voters.

Mr Peter Gitau, a former MP, was set upon by a gang led by a woman politician.

You might question what the MP was doing there; an election is not a football match.

But if he was properly accredited by the IEBC as an observer or agent, then that is a different matter.

But meting out violence, even on suspected vote thieves, ought to be an election offence. Do people buy votes from total strangers? I thought this crime is usually committed by locals who know who they are buying?

KANU'S CONCERNS

In Kericho, Kanu’s rejection of the results was deliciously ironic.

That party, in its history, is responsible for stealing more elections perhaps than any other party on the continent.

Still, it deserves fairness and it probably has reformed now that it is out of power.

One of its complaints was that the results were announced “too quickly” and it, therefore, suspected that the results were cooked elsewhere.

I think it is the first time that a party is rejecting the results of an election because the authorities were too efficient by half.

Usually, trouble starts because the counting has taken too long. Therefore, it is assumed that the results are being cooked.

I think Jubilee has questions to answer about Kericho that are as serious as the ones that ODM would be asked to answer in Malindi.

First, this was a very well-resourced campaign. Senators Onesmus Kipchumba Murkomen and Kithure Kindiki were all over the place in aircraft and big cars, mobilising big rallies and all that staff that must have cost a fortune. Were you boys using your own funds?

PUBLIC FUNDS

An investigation needs to be conducted into the possible use of public funds by Jubilee in Kericho.

The possibility of the use of the Bomet County government vehicles in the campaigns should also be looked into.

Use of public funds should be treated as theft and those concerned surcharged and prosecuted.

Even more serious is the participation of State officials in these campaigns.

The poster boy of this suspected violation is former Kericho senator and now Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter.

I do not think he is alone; there are many more civil servants who poked their little snouts in the political trough.

Elections go to the heads of the political class in a very dangerous way. And Kenyan politicians and their bands of thugs will do anything to win.

That is where the anarchy starts. The only way to end electoral anarchy is to strongly demonstrate intolerance for it.

If you want a peaceful and organised election 2017, then you must punish violations during these by-elections.

[email protected] Twitter: @mutuma_mathiu

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