It is not with surprise that I read the view that Mwai Kibaki is not the legitimate president of Kenya. This view is so pervasive that even many who supported the president have been deceived into taking it up.That it is so widespread is a tribute to the ODM’s knack for lies and its efficiency at pushing them as truth. It is also in no small part a result of the political ineptitude of the PNU and State House.The view is predicated on two strands of thought. The first, published by the ODM and a perpetuation of its hateful and divisive anti-GEMA strategy, declares that President Kibaki won only one of Kenya’s provinces and is therefore not the true president of all Kenya. The second, declares the election stolen by the incumbent, and rather cheekily insists that the extension of his tenancy at State House is a ‘coup’.
This first argument is only one of the few in the litany of lies the ODM has rammed through a servile, biased media. The facts speak for themselves, Mwai Kibaki won 4 out of Kenya’s provinces and MPs running on pro-Kibaki platforms won more than 100 seats with victories in every single province. None of his rivals even came close to the same level of support. Kibaki also won a sizeable number of votes even in the provinces where he was overall second best, reaching the 25% mark in every province but Nyanza, where he still managed to poll 17% of the vote. The ODM candidate on the other hand posted a measly 2% and 5% in Central and Eastern provinces, and managed 25% in only six of the provinces.
‘But the bulk of the president’s votes were GEMA votes,’ comes the reply. Well, that may be true but the formulation GEMA itself makes into one what are properly a multitude of ethnicities. More importantly however, our democracy as currently fashioned makes no demands on the ethnicity of voters desiring merely that the victorious candidate have the approval of at least 25% from five provinces to underline his nationalist credentials. To reiterate, it is not communities, faiths or regions that vote. It is individuals.
This is no trivial point. The ODM has taken even before the election to making the case that their candidate was the People’s Candidate, Kenya’s candidate. That was all very well for that period when presentation and marketing were more important than truth; but in this the post-election period, the party and its supporters would do well to realise that by any estimation fully 4 million Kenyans declared their support for each of the two leading candidates. So it is that even now,as the party and its supporters persist in saying that the Kenyan people have been robbed, the Kenyan people are angry, they must remember that there are some Kenyans a substantial number, a majority even who actually voted for Kibaki – and who rejected the ODM.
For starters, it is most irresponsible, if typical of the ODM to neglect to take into account the votes of these 4 million, they are after all just GEMA, Gikuyu, Embu, Meru, Mbeere, Tharaka; you know those people, not Kenyans. This diligently crafted Us vs Them dichotomy explains why the ODM’s leaders have not yet seen fit to visit, or even declare peace with the communities that are being victimised by the outbreaks of violence- communities which in the pre-election campaigns they worked very hard to demonise. When it is not demonising them directly, the ODM and its agents continually seek to invite the GEMA to join Kenyans in voting ODM, proposing all the time that to vote differently is unKenyan.
This is part of the reason for the renewal in Kikuyu nationalism, a whole community has been forced to the wall by the invective of three years and two political campaigns. We stand in our millions -along with Kenyans of every ethnic persuasion in rejection of ethnic chauvinism- and declare to the ODM that we are adamant in our support for President Kibaki and that we too retain the inalienable right to the appellation, Kenyan. We respect that there are those, our brothers and sisters from across the country, with different political persuasions, but never in a million years would we think to pretend that those opinions made them less Kenyan than we are. If it is the sheer numbers in Central Kenya that intimidate the opposition into taking this position, also published as the 41 versus 1 strategy, then the ODM have to now get to their grassroots and urge a population boom. Anything else hurts all of us, and the victims of this hatred will not just be the Gikuyu. The economic and social effects of this policy of excluding one group from the whole will be profound, and as many in Western Kenya are finding, life without the other is not exactly a bed of roses.
The end of this hatred is especially urgent for ODM for, in light of the premeditated and barbaric ODM action in the Rift Valley and across the country, it is unlikely that too many Kenyans, even those who had previously aligned themselves with the party will be particularly drawn to it and its divisive politics any more. The consequences of all the strident screeching about Majimbo and the theory that the Gikuyu hogged all the country’s resources have finally manifested themselves.
I find it most unfair to look merely at one set of election irregularities while turning a blind eye to the other. Such a predisposition is not only unhelpful, but declares a bias that precludes a just assessment of the elections. It is not unlinked to the over-arching theory of Gikuyu hegemony as it dictates that only one side in the election had the wherewithal to interfere with the vote.
The media and observers seem to have focused merely on crimes committed during the final vote tallying while ignoring the fact that there were several irregularities in ODM zones.
For starters, there was no free will in the vote in Nyanza. Long before the election begun, candidates who would have stood against the ODM nominees were compelled to stand down and those who resisted were demonised and accused of perfidy to the tribe. There were prior to the elections, outbreaks of violence against the disloyal, outbreaks which led to the displacement and non-participation of such persons. There are also credible reports that women and those from communities likely predisposed to vote different than the ODM were obstructed from exercising their voting rights by hooligans either inspired by or hired by the ODM. As the ODM candidate demanded at a campaign rally in Eldoret, ‘hatutaki madoadoa’.
Even worse, and as confirmed by KEDOF in their final vote report, agents representing parties allied to Mwai Kibaki and Kalonzo Musyoka were denied entry into vote counting and vote tallying centres, including most famously Nyayo Stadium where what had been widely billed a close race between Raila Odinga and Stanley Livondo was turned into a rout of suspiciously monumental proportions. This as Uhuru Kenyatta complained, came after Livondo and his group were locked out of the stadium.
Some have asked why the government did not then use the police to back up the blocked voters and insist that the opposition agents be allowed entry at these events. The truth is that the tense pre-election atmosphere did not allow for any use of force by the government, indeed any such moves would have been seen as persecution and would have cost the government votes at the election. Those asking this forget that there were already killings in Nyanza of police personnel prior to the election and that it is this state of violence that ensured that Kibaki and Kalonzo affiliated agents were wary of performing their duties there. Importantly also, any such interference would have undermined the independence of the ECK which was the organisation charged with the proper conduct of the elections. The instruments of legal and legitimate use of force are restricted to use in the protection of the polling station and its environs from the vagaries of the contestants and their agents.
Finally, it is most categorically not true that it is impossible to conduct a re-tally of the forms sent to Nairobi by the poll centres around the country. The agents of all the parties contesting the election carry with them copies of the results announced in these centres and should retain copies of the electoral forms. These can be availed for a national re-tallying, which as the Justice Minister Martha Karua told the BBC’s Hard Talk, the government is very willing to facilitate when ordered by a court of law. Karua herself was part of a group of politicians including George Nyamweya, James Orengo and Anyang’ Nyong’o who sat through the night of the 29th of December with ECK officials and went over the vote tallies from across the land. They subtracted the entire element of suspicious added on votes that the ODM had complained about and Kibaki’s total was adjusted accordingly.
When it was found that the vote still indicated a Kibaki victory, the ODM side sought the very next day to reverse their previous urge for the expeditious publication of the result (remember the ODM had on the 28th and 29th been putting pressure on Kivuitu to announce the victor) and instead began a campaign (Raila even stormed Kivuitu’s home at 0700) to have Kivuitu delay the announcement. Commentators seem to have forgotten that Musalia Mudavadi had already announced the election for the ODM or that there were riots in Kisumu that demanded the election result be announced. Now it seems we only focus on the pressure from the PNU and ODM-K, forgetting all the time the even greater pressure from the ODM the previous day.
As the leaked memo from World Bank country director Colin Bruce avers, the facts are clear. The ODM is only too aware that such a re-assessment would make clear that they lost the election, and are as a result wary of appealing to the courts for such a re-tallying. Mwai Kibaki is the legal, but also the legitimate president of Kenya, which fact will soon be proved in a court of law