By: Humphrey Kajimba
With the promulgation of the new constitution in August 4, 2010 after long-drawn-out years of failed dictatorial regimes, inequitable resource allocation and malfunctioning electoral systems, it was widely anticipated by Kenyans that democracy will usher in improved pact in terms of humanizing their pitiable standard of living.
The citizenry gazed with great prospect of better things to come in the route of governance; they anticipated the freeing of state resources from the monopoly of greedy bureaucrats to more effective, morally upright and efficient programmes of social provisioning.
To restore confidence of Kenyans in this vital transition, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was established in 2011 in provision of the 2010 constitution and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act to replace the defunct electoral commission with its mandate being the continuous registration of voters and revision of the voterâ€™s roll, the delimitation of constituencies and wards, the regulation of political parties process, the settlement of electoral disputes, the registration of candidates for elections, voter education, the facilitation of the observation, monitoring and evaluation of elections, the regulation of money spent by a candidate or party in respect of any election, the development of a code of conduct for candidates and parties, and the monitoring of compliance with legislation on nomination of candidates by parties.
The desire for change was evident when Kenyans turned out in massive numbers to cast their vote in the just concluded general election; the largest voter turn-out in the country’s 50-year history. This took place despite multiple attacks on security forces that left a dozen people dead along the coast; the prevailing mood was one of relief as millions waited peacefully and patiently to cast their vote.
However, the process through which the commission conducted the general election of 2013 highlights diverse institutional challenges with evident irregularities including malfunctioning biometric voter identification kits, failed electronic transmission of results, and irregularities in the presidential vote tallying process; this is what some analysts referred to as â€˜formalistic democracy devoid of substanceâ€™ Kenyans seem to have experienced more of pains than gains.
Five years of restructuring and setting up of new institutions and commissions has woefully failed to restore the expectation and dreams of quality education, improved wages for workers, genuine electoral reform, freedom of information, equitable distribution of wealth, justice and fairness for all Kenyans and even the resolution of the agitation for secession in the coastal region without recourse to martial offensive.
There still exists a wide economic and social disparity, sluggish economic recovery, unsettled internally displaced civilians, victims of the violence that followed the disputed presidential election of 2007, and limited freedom to the media. Ten years of the outgoing government has elevated corruption, impunity and meddlesomeness to political creeds that have robbed governance the much needed responsive and caring human face.
Much as the above situation has paved way for the erosion of the democratic gains made over the last twenty years following the emergence of the multi-party democracy in Kenya, the active civil society, the independent and reformed judiciary and the citizenry must not relent in their quest for a just and equitable society for a sustainable and peaceful co-existence of all. It is the role of every Kenyan to actively participate in this vital process to reclaim the countryâ€™s position in the globe without fear of intimidation from any arm of the government.