Why the Parliament Cannot Oversee Electoral Reform Dialogue in Kenya

It is good the political leaders have realized that electoral reforms in relation to the leadership at the IEBC are necessary .We salute both the sides; President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. However, there is another issue emerging, that the parliament has to be wholesomely involved in effecting reforms at the Kenya’s electoral body. This is not correct, it is not right and as well it is not democratic.

The first reason in support of this position is that the current parliament of Kenya does not respect and protect values of democracy. It always protects its non-democratic choices by subjecting itself to the irrationality in the social vice of tyranny of numbers, without necessarily being guilty of the wrong social choices that can be easily fuelled by the fallacy in the ‘group think’ driven social process. I mean we have had a lot of political irrationality evinced in the current parliament of Kenya.

Evidently, the parliament has failed to legislate socially inclusive laws, to fight corruption, to suppress tribalism or ethnicity, to facilitate devolved governance, to fight extra-judicial killings, to give policy direction on how to fight poverty, to up-hold democratic virtues and most sadly the parliament has only focused on how to make laws that can make incumbent members of parliament accumulate wealth and retain their political stations. They have been doing all these through palpable sycophancy to the party leader and chauvinism to tribal politics. Thus, it has to be agreed that no effective electoral reforms can be made under such institutional and social environment.

Secondly, it has been so clear that Kenya does not have reliable electoral machineries.Psycholgy of using a public office for personal economic gain has fettered the public officers in management of the electoral organ to an extend that the one bribing them is the one likely to win an electoral competition.

The people of Kenya do not have any confidence in organ hence the violent demonstrations that are currently observed in Kenya. The parliament has been aware of this, but instead it is the same parliament that has been protecting this body. Thus it loudly beats logic to endow such a morally estranged parliament with duties of managing a social process of moralizing an institution of such public importance like the IEBC.

Given that debates and social movements about electoral reforms in Kenya did not start in parliament, there it can be relegated to parliament for fine-tuning. All logic and theories of politics, nationhood and state formation inductively point to the suggestion that hitherto, other arms of governance have to be involved in the process but not to invoke parliamentary monopoloy.

The civil societies, the judiciary, the church, political parties, the media, the electorates, the senate and the legislature are supposed to be equally involved in the process of dialogues for electoral reforms. This attempt will ultimately help Kenya to overcome the usual political skullduggery often emanating from chicanery politics of partisanship and tribal sentimentality.

(Alexander Khamala Opicho Lodwar, Kenya)

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Articles by Alexander Opicho