Election time in Kenya is a pretty critical one for both the country and East Africa at large. Kenya is an economic powerhouse for the East Africa region and one of the main monitors of the progress of democracy in Africa.
Among African countries, Kenya is an important partner of the United States and often a haven for refugees fighting transnational terrorism, especially al-Shabaab. The country is also a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and has played a critical role in IGAD’s efforts to improve security and peace in South Sudan.
For these reasons and others we may not have mentioned, Kenya has a strong influence on its less stable or more burdened neighbours and election time in Kenya is one of the major times when it becomes necessary for Kenya to show its domestic stability.
After the 2007 elections, Kenya failed in this duty as the region devolved into ethnic-induced violence. When the 2013 election time in Kenya came around, fears of a repeat of the 2007 post-election violence was tangible but thankfully all of the feelings of marginalization and distrust of the government were contained.
Following the violence of the 2007 elections, the International Criminal Court charged President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto with crimes against humanity but the two cases have since been dropped.
Election time in Kenya came around again in 2017 and President Kenyatta went head to head with opposition candidate Raila Odinga in a fiercely contested election that on August 9, 2017, seemed to feature President Kenyatta as the victor.
The opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, however, insisted that the election had been hacked in the President’s favour and rejected the results. In an election where the fear that has pervaded Kenya since the 2007 massacre (that of post-election violence) was as tangible as ever, it was a terrible occurrence.
Beyond the still contested results, however, here are some good, bad and ugly highlights from election time in Kenya;
The good part of election time in Kenya
- The pay-cut for Kenyan politicians
Considering that Kenyan politicians have been among the highest paid African politicians for a long time, the announcement of the pay cuts for Kenyan politicians in the pre-election season was a refreshing victory for Kenya.
According to a 2013 study by the UK’ Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and IMF, the legislators reportedly earned 76 times the nation’s per capita gross domestic product. Following a new structure released by the Independent Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Kenya is preparing to slash the salaries of state officers in a bid to reduce the country’s wage bill.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s salary will be cut by 13% to 17.3 million Kenyan shillings ($166,000) a year while legislators will see their salaries cut by 12.5% to around 7.5 million shillings ($72,400).
- The hiring of the international auditing firm
Kenya’s voter registration poll underwent an audit by international auditing firm KPMG before the election. A massive voter drive saw an increase in the number of registered voters by almost 40% since the last election. There were, however, some critics who said that the voter roll includes underage voters, dead people, and duplicate registrations.
KPMG checked the names of voters against the government’s birth and death registers, housing, and population censuses, and recently issued passports and national identification cards.
The bad part of election time in Kenya
- Fake news ruled
In the week leading up to the election. Kenyans were swamped with fake news from all corners. According to the results of a nationwide study, about 90% of Kenyans saw or heard false news about the upcoming general election.
The study into the spread of fake news began in May and about 2,000 Kenyans were respondents via SMS. The results showed that 87% of respondents regarded the news as being deliberately misleading – or fake
- The election was terribly expensive
Kenya’s national treasury said the preparation and execution of the election would cost 49.9 billion shillings ($480 million). Of that amount, the electoral commission is used almost 43 billion shillings ($413.2 million) to hire personnel, procure election materials, and conduct voter education exercises. Some of the money was also used to collect and transmit results.
The ugly part of election time in Kenya
- The killing of Chris Msando
Chris Msando the man that was in charge of Kenya’s computerized voting system was found dead a few days to the election. IEBC chairperson
Wafula Chebukati said that “There was no doubt he was tortured and murdered,” continuing “The only question in our mind is who [killed him] and why he was killed a few days to elections.”
- The allegations of hacking
Before his death, Chris Msando had described the voting system as being impossible to hack into but that is the exact thing that Raila Oding and other members of the opposition are claiming to have happened. If their allegations are not proved to be untrue then election time in kenya may end on a note that everyone has been studiously avoiding.