The D-Day for Kenya, peace to you brothers and sisters

Sunday August 07 2022
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Police officers stand guard on June 06, 2016 in Kisumu, during a past demonstration demanding the national electoral oversight body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), disband the electoral body. PHOTO|FILE

By Saumu Jumanne

On 9th August 2022, it will be a big day for Kenya. As the East African Nation, it goes for General Elections, where each eligible voter has a chance to vote for representatives: president, member of parliaments, senator, woman representative, governor, and member of the county assemblies. Note that the woman representatives are voted in by both genders (males and females).

Kenyans are our neighbours, brothers and sisters, in-laws, friends, and at times our geopolitical competitors where we compete against each other. Some Tanzanians have parents from Kenya, and vice versa is true.

How can you tell the difference between a Kenyan Maasai and a Tanzania one? How can you tell someone the difference between a Kenyan Luo and a Tanzania Luo? The list goes on and on. But most importantly, we are together in the East African Community (EAC) because some realities make us depend on each other.

As Tanzania, we are trading partners with Kenya. What can happens to Tanzania can have significant implications for Kenya and vice versa is true.

The same for all the other EAC partners/member states. The presidential post in Kenya is interesting! We are so aware that the outgoing president, Uhuru Kenyatta, is supporting his rival of many years, Raila Odinga. He does not want his deputy, Dr. William Ruto, to win. But it’s interesting that thanks to the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, the constitutional dispensation could not allow Kenyatta to sack his deputy despite their differences, Dr. Ruto is on the ballot.

Interestingly, the retired Tanzanian President Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete will head the EAC election observation mission to Kenya. For history students, Dr. Kikwete will always be remembered in the history of Kenya as he played a pivotal role with the late Kofi Annan in ending the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya.

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The duo helped to craft a deal between the late Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga.

The handshake between Kibaki and Odinga made a new Kenya. In 2010, the duo led the country into a referendum to adopt a new constitution, which has been hailed progressive. Like in Tanzania, the Constitution of Kenya allows the president to go for two terms (five years each) only. Our other neighbors, especially Uganda and Rwanda, have a different song concerning presidential term limits.

Note that one of the worst political diseases in Africa is electoral violence. We have seen it in the past in Kenya, Zanzibar, Uganda, and Burundi, to mention a few one time or other, they have experienced the malaise.

The question of free and fair elections often becomes controversial and leads to violence. The consequence of electoral violence to the citizen is poverty. We need a very politically stable EAC, which will be able to attain higher economic development that will reduce poverty among the masses. Political or electoral violence breeds more poverty. No one wants that to happen anymore in Africa and other parts of the world.

The African politicians must learn to concede defeat gracefully. The leaders to be elected should also know that they are the servants of the people who have elected them, and they are the people’s representatives. When so many things go wrong because of bad governance, including corruption in Africa, our politicians as the elected leaders are more often than not to blame.

The world will be watching as Kenyans expect to vote on 9th August 2022. We remind all Kenyans that fair and peaceful elections are of paramount importance. May I use this opportunity to wish our neighbors Kenyans the best of luck in their coming general election. May the best candidates win for the good of Kenya, EAC and the world. God bless Tanzania, God bless Kenya, God bless EAC.