by Akhona Makasi

KENYAN ELECTIONS

Days draw nearer as we await the much-anticipated Kenyan elections

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On the 8th of August 2017 the Kenyan public will be sitting for its election on the positions of President, Women’s Representative, Senator, Member of Parliament, Governor and Member of the county assembly.

Current President Uhuru Kenyatta (Son of first democratic president Jomo Kenyatta) will be running for presidency for the second term along with Raila Odinga (son of the first democratic vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga), opposing under coalition once again.

Another series of violent protests is expected as it was in the previous elections. In 2007 the elections, Raila Odinga was running for Presidency alongside Mwai Kibaki who emerged victorious. These elections caused much controversy as the main opposing parties were accused of rigging the elections and participating in corrupt campaigning, which resulted in violent protests where lives were lost and many were left homeless.

The most recent elections were in 2013 when President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn into power. These elections were said to have been less chaotic than the 2007 post elections violent ordeal. The August elections are expected to be the most interesting since Kenya’s independence considering the unpredictable shift of events within the political sphere of the country and the conflict between the main opponents and their political parties.

Threats of more violence and chaos have surfaced post 2007 elections towards the upcoming elections in August. This would be the 3rdconsecutive political bloodbath between these two main controversial opponents (Uhuru representing the Jubilee party and Odinga representing the National Super Alliance and the Orange Democratic Movement).

In an interview on Aljazeera with Mhedi Hasan, Raila Odinga denied all allegations of him and his supporters ever inciting violence and chaos for the 2017 elections, even though slogans of his followers stating ”No Raila, no peace” became a norm. “…What happened in the country was all spontaneous, nothing was planned” Odinga said.

Kenya’s identity in the world of politics

Tribalism is one of the respected and practised ideologies in Kenya and it plays a major role in elections as traditional or ethnic elders are said to have an influence over the voters’ decisions. This time, the public will hear none of that. It is said that the citizens of Kenya are no longer following the directorate of their local tribal leaders. This does not come as much of a surprise as Kenya is known as one of the African countries wherein it’s original inhabitants resisted the colonisation of the British in the 18th Century where different tribes united to fight against colonisation.

Contributing factors pre and post elections

Violence is not the only interesting factor about these elections. Like all other countries, the chaos that comes with elections, affects different aspects of a country such as the economy and wealth as well as its reputation. The Kenya Bureau Statistics stated that the inflation rate increased to 11.48% at the end of April 2017, which means that the country’s economy is in danger as the Central bank inflation ceiling stands at 7.8%. The Kenyan economy also faces debate over the land laws that were passed in 2012 (National land commission act, Land registration act and the Land act).  These land laws were said to address the long debated land ownership, distribution and the likes.

Kenyan Economist has expressed his frustrations on the upcoming elections in an article on the UK’S The Guardian.

He said “I’m tired of this idea, will the elections be peaceful or not? That’s not the only result that we expect. We have a very ambitious constitution, so to simply say that we have a result and we have no violence, that’s setting a very low bar for ourselves. I think we should be more ambitious and say we’ll have a peaceful election, we’ll have a legitimate presidency, we’ll have a successful transition…”

On the 10th July 2017, The Salary and Remuneration Commission (SRC) announced a pay structure for state officials. This might work positively for the economy of the country as many salaries have been cut down and benefits are to be reviewed. The president, deputy president, governors, members of parliament and the speaker of parliament are amongst those who have seen their salaries being slashed.

Speaking to Ktn news, Mr Tse Francis a Resident of Nyeri in Kenya said, “It is quite interesting to see the salary cut happening during this time and it is a good thing too, hopefully it is not an election campaign strategy, because the country is running on very serious debt so hopefully these cuts will help”.  Speaking at the state house, Kenyatta has expressed his support for the pay structure announcement by the SRC. “…I am today announcing my unequivocal support for these broad and very far reaching recommendations” Kenyatta said.

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