simplifying the electoral process in Kenya

Last night when i couldn’t sleep and reading wasn’t helping, it occurred to me we have a problem with the conduct of elections and the type of people employed to do the work. First I admit here that the process has improved but it can be better.

To address the efficiency of the voting process, we must first look at the political players who benefit from an inefficient system.

Next we look at the people who manage this process. The voting process is controlled by a team of commissioners appointed by the president. They have a secretariat with a CEO and other staff I guess who are involved in the elections. The commissioners enjoy security of tenure, are paid huge salaries and it does seem to me, do very little in terms of simplifying the voting process. Our elections get more expensive every election cycle instead of cheaper, smoother and more transparent. So what to do?

First, make the commissioner position a volunteer position. They shouldn’t expect any pay. Add a condition that should they botch the elections, they will forfeit their freedom and property. But if they should improve the voting process, they will be rewarded handsomely or beautifully whichever you identify with.

Do away with the lawyers. Damn it. They have demonstrated they can’t do arithmetic. They have been at the centre of the election disputes, over numbers, we have had in the last three cycles and it seems the country hasn’t learnt from it.

It should be a requirement that whoever wants to be nominated as a volunteer in the election body must demonstrate how they intend to ensure the vote counting and tallying is both efficient and open to scrutiny. I have ideas on this but that’s for later. The voting process should be treated as a project with a start and end date. The risks identified and classed. Mitigation measures agreed, roles allocated, budgets agreed on and whatever processes required to execute the project made available. A move to a paperless system should be considered.

I had said I would deal with the political players first but look at us. I don’t know about other countries, but I think there is a general luck of trust that each of us will follow the maxim of one man one vote and to cure this, political parties and candidates employ vast numbers of observers to ensure there is no shady dealings going on. The question is how do we address the conflict between private and public morality?

The other question that presents itself is how to reduce the stakes in the political game. As it is, the high stakes means winning by any means has become the mantra. I am not naive to the fact that being a legislator offers many goods that so many would die for. All around, politicians seems to outlive everyone else. They don’t ever die. They have access to government contracts- and in a world where the richest people or organizations are those that do business with the government, then the stakes can not be any lower. A time must come when this madness will get to its apex and the only way out is down, but we don’t have much time so interventions are needed now.

It occurred to me quite recently that the requirements for political office are so low compared to any other office. You apply for a job in almost any field and they want millions of years in experience, your achievements, bonafides and all. But when it comes to politics, the bare minimum which shockingly, this class of clowns don’t have. Take the case of the current governor for Nairobi. When asked to produce his certificates, he went to court as if the courts can cure such a deficiency!

But all this is wishful thinking. A man can dream.

In the picture of Dorian Gray

There are very many sentences that qualify to be treated as quotable quotes. Besides that, the novel is such a fine read.

In one place, he has Lord Henry wonder loudly

I wonder who it was defined mab as a rational animal. It was the moat premature definition ever given. Man is many things, but he is not rational.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Before that, he has Lord Henry complain about ‘always’ not the pads, of course. He says

Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last for ever.

Ans finally, something that reminded me of a quote I read many years ago, he says about temptation;

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.

And in totally unrelated news, the electoral body is still tallying votes since Tuesday night. There should be a much simpler and quicker way to count and tally votes from 46k polling stations.

In case you have not read Humble Pi: a comedy of mathematical errors, I recommend you do. Even if you don’t find it interesting, I bet you will learn something new.

And with that, happy weekend everyone.

In one of our dailies

A Dr. Chacha wrote an article where he seems to lament the absence of god in Kenya during elections. One would think there are jurisdictions where god has a voters card since he tells us that god doesn’t vote in Kenya which should be obvious.

He takes umbrage on a politician calling himself a son of mau mau instead of a son of god and interprets this as choosing violence as a means of resolving political dispute instead of peaceful alternatives. I don’t think this interpretation is correct nor justified.

In the same article, he writes evil always triumphs over good evidenced by the bad leaders we end up with. These leaders are voted by the masses. I hope the good lecturer is willing to agree that the voters prefer evil to good, otherwise I don’t see how his argument can be sustained.

It is parsons who have always insisted leaders are anointed by god regardless of how dubious their character is.

His conclusion that religion doesn’t affect how we vote should not be mourned but actually celebrated. We are not electing the bishop but representatives who shall legislate on our behalf. And religion shouldn’t determine how people vote.That ethnicity affects how people vote is an area for study for social scientists.

And with that, have a great weekend everyone.

what are we to do

still from Who, if anyone, owns the past? the author writes, and I think this relevant almost everywhere, but especially in our current political stalemate between a rogue and theiving government and a desire for representative government

[..]Very little change is to be expected from those who are comfortably settled in life, sure of their position, satisfied with their lot, who continue to regard only their neighbours as their fellows, and live without querying anything and without asking anew every day the essential questions. Personal commitment and a willingness to make an effort and even sacrifice on behalf of a cause are not the result of material satisfaction but of spiritual aspirations. Something to live for and not on. Without human tension, there is no change. Without passion or compassion there will not be sufficient steadfastness in rebellion.

Those formerly committed to change become docile, the reformers of yesterday get co-opted into the Establishment and the ‘civil conspirators’ accept ‘things as they are’, giving up the attempts to make them ‘as they ought to be’.

In order to strengthen genuine democracy, reduce disparities and ensure that civil society takes on the responsibility that only it can assume, there is historically, only one path to follow; the defense of values and ideals that are regarded as crucial to human dignity.

And what do we, young people of Africa need?

We need role models who will show us the value of hard work, resourcefulness, integrity, and commitment. [..]the masses in Africa are fed up with the ruling vampire elites who make vain promises to seek election, but once elected, break their promises and become more preoccupied with the frenzied plunder of the state treasury.

What is the artist, the scholar, the journalist to do?

I am no artist. Not in any sense of the word. I am an architect. I modify space or rather create living or livable and sometimes unlivable environments. I am not a writer either, but I do write. But I wouldn’t for the life of me keep quiet at a time like this. Silence would mean a tacit approval and acceptance of things as they are. I am a cynic. A thorough-going pessimist and a realist. The world is as is. Things are and they exist in different layers. Nothing is black or white and truth, to the postmodernist, varies or depends on who is telling it.

What is it I will not be quiet about?

Women being violated in their homes.

Children being shot by police.

Men being killed by police.

Homes and business being destroyed.

Nurses, doctors and other professionals being taken for granted.

Attempts to grab power from the people.

Arithmetic being insulted.

Lies being told as truth.

Ethnic profiling by the state.

State sponsored violence.

Our constitution being seen as a book of suggestions.

But as I told my friends when we started this conversation, that I am conflicted and have many thoughts on this. Hope, in a way is the greatest of all evils. It prolongs human misery. The hope that things will be better, especially when there is much against this hope, is to prolong our misery. Herein is my first conflict. I am agitating for change. I hope change is possible. But I also believe such a hope prolongs my misery. The cycle of violence seem to me to have no end in sight. On the country, it does look like it will only get worse. The state has, by convincing the populace of Al Shabaab and other external enemies, militarized the population. And the most unfortunate thing is this has happened at the level where critical thinking is a luxury. In the police, the army cadre, the National Youth Service, guards and so on. They search you at a local mini-supermarket and as you get into a church (the irony- even those who pray for god’s protection are not sure they can depend entirely on god).

In my brief study of history, I have come to the conclusion that historical events do not have a single cause, but that their causes go back decades in an unbroken continuum of cause-effect. What are we to do in such a scenario? What can each of us do to affect the cause of history or rather to improve the present? Are we to watch helplessly as history unfolds before us? How do we become participants in changing the course of history, to write a different history? These and many more questions are what we are called to reflect upon.

In his book, If the War goes on, Hermann Hesse, writes

At the same time we scholars and artists joining in the outcry against certain belligerent powers. As though today, when the world is on fire, such utterances could be of any value. As though an artist or a man of letters, even the best and most famous of us, had any say in matters of war.

He continues his lament,

Others participate in the great events by carrying the war into their studies and writing bloodthirsty war songs or rabid articles fomenting hatred among nations. That perhaps is the worst of all. The men who are risking their lives every day at the front maybe entitled to bitterness, to momentary anger and hatred; the same maybe true of active politicians. But we writers, artists and journalists- can it be our function to make things worse than they are? Is the situation not already ugly and deplorable enough?

Here then, is first a question of what our effect will be and a secondly a challenge to not make an already ugly situation ugly and deplorable.

As I have said elsewhere, and some have disagreed, the real battle is that with the self. That is the first battleground of history, of fate and if each of us can win the battle against hate, greed, we may as well be on course to writing a new history for mankind.

 

As I conclude my ramblings, I live you with this poem by John Bell for reflection.

If the war goes on

If the war goes on and the children die of hunger,

and the old men weep, for the young men are no more,

and the women learn how to dance without a partner,

who will keep the score?

 

If the war goes on and the truth is taken hostage,

and new terrors lead to the need to euphemize;

when the calls for peace are declared unpatriotic

who’ll expose the lies?

 

If the war goes on and the daily bread is terror,

and the voiceless poor take the road as refugees;

when a nation’s pride destines millions to be homeless,

who will heed their pleas?

 

If the war goes on and the rich increase their fortunes,

and the arms sales soar as new weapons are displayed;

when a fertile field turns to no-man’s land tomorrow,

who’ll approve such trade?

 

If the war goes on, will we close the doors to heaven?

If the war goes on, will we breach the gates of hell?

If the war goes on, will we ever be forgotten? If the war goes on…

 

Election boycott KE

Hello friends,

In my last post, I said there would be no election. Well, the clown’s party that controls the election body decided to go on with their party census on our tab. And by doing so, they have sunk several billion shillings down the drain.

That 12 billion shillings could have done a lot. For example this

I would have done you all an injustice if I don’t show you the people who went to cast their votes for the clowns

What happens from here now? No one knows.

Dear Uhuru and Raila

I am sure you have by now received and read the letter addressed to you by ICJ Kenya.

Before, I continue with my letter, I will state my bias. I want to see an end to Uhuru’s presidency. I believe it should not have happened in the first place anyway, but here we are. With that behind us, my letter will build on theirs but also departure significantly from it.

In their calling you to dialogue, they are implicitly saying, we the people have no demands that the two of you can agree on what portions of the cake to take and what crumbs we shall have. I beg to differ. We are the right bearers and are to determine how we shall be led. You can meet over beer or bbq, that’s all good. I however, as a voter, would want to know what iebc has done in ensuring that each vote will count.

While making their ruling, the SCoK observed that the iebc had committed illegalities and irregularities. To date no one has answered to these charges. It is business as usual at iebc. This is unacceptable. The commission must tell us who through omission or commission bungled the election whose end result has been the loss of life.

Uhuru has to rein on the police to stop killing protestors. Picketing is guaranteed by law and the citizens can continue to demonstrate even if Raila called them off. The police have no right to kill people. They can only arrest. And on this matter, you are complicit. ICJ Kenya are not brave enough to tell you the people who have died have been killed on your orders.

A situation where after every election we must have dialogue is not tenable. I demand on my own behalf, that those who bungled the election be made to account. No payoffs as you did with Hassan. This matter must and should be put to rest in a way that serves us and future generations. 

IEBC has to be seen to be transparent. If this means sharing minutes of the meetings, so be it. The elections concern our present and future. They have to be above board. 

Talk if you must, but it must not be to meet your individual goals but must represent the aspirations of the people. The Constitution is clear as to who the power belongs to. And in that document, we must determine how we will be governed. Time, however, is running out and our patience is wearing thin.

No more lives must be lost. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9FLm5wAmIJbUnJjQVJtV0huWk0/view?usp=drivesdk

What is an election?

Those of you following on the drama now know 2 commissioners have now resigned from the electoral body. One did so a few days after the full ruling and yesterday Dr. Akombe quit. This has reduced the commission from 9 to 7. The present composition doesn’t meet the gender requirement as required by law and is in that way unconstitutional.

Yesterday we were treated to a non speech by the commission chair where he said they are ready for election but can’t guarantee that it will be free, fair and credible. He says he has been outvoted by commissioners serving political interests. What this translates to is going to a match where the referee and assistant referees are working with your opponent.

I am here waiting for him to resign. We have plans to picket on 26th October while the chief clown’s party goes to the polls. It will be interesting. If the revolution will not be televised, it will be tweeted and retweeted.

Seconds to disaster

Hey friends.

I think as at this moment, Kenya is seconds away from disaster, not legal but political and no one knows how it will end. I think it will end in disaster and we will be none the wiser.

There will be, like in war, no winners or losers but those who are left. Whoever they will be, they will be so divided they will not be able to recognize each other.

So we wait. The clock is ticking. 26th is the date.

The article below paints the picture in more words than I can generally muster.

Against second rate democracy in Kenya 

 

greetings from Nairobi

I am still alive and there maybe no elections on 26th October.

I have questions,

would the world economy be harmed if we gave everyone basic income, reduced work hours and abolished private property?

does abolishing jail houses portend a rise in criminal activity?

is such a society desirable?

what place does education play in forming better citizens?

would abolishing the entire war enterprise be beneficial to all the residents of the globe?