Thursday, May 29, 2008

Is The Electoral Commission Now Competent?

Only a few weeks ago, the ECK was under a barrage of fiery criticism for its shoddy handling of last year’s general election. Samuel Kivuitu, the aging face of the commission, even faced the ignominy of being hounded out of various facilities by crowds in Mombasa who did not spare him some choice epithets. And unlike the period prior to the polls, not even the media crews were seeking him out for his wise cracks. For a moment, the old man and his team seemed to have been written off as unfit for public office and culpable for criminal negligence. But only for a moment.

As is typical of our national capacity to stomach crass ineptitude in our institutions for the sake of “love, peace and unity”, “healing and reconciliation” or some such other philosophy, the dangerous (in)actions of ECK during last years poll are gently being swept under the carpet. Indications are that the Kriegler commission is destined to perform a time consuming glossing over exercise that will land us with yet another report to study. Kriegler, Kivuitu and the government have, in any case, confirmed that investigating ECK with a view to recommend their removal from office or otherwise is not within their mandate.

Meanwhile, Kivuitu and his team are going about their business without an iota of remorse for the December election fiasco. They are in fact putting the final touches to preparations for by-elections on 11 July for which our political parties are getting ready to rumble. The same parties that two months ago were swearing that the ECK “could not be trusted to conduct elections even for a village cattle-dip committee”. What has changed to make the Kivuitu team acceptable? Probably the comforts of high office in the ungainly coalition have blunted their discernment and shifted their loyalties.

The tragedy is that somewhere down the line, the same see-no-evil-hear-no-evil coterie of myopic politicians will be seeking to mobilize citizens against the same institutions they are now abetting in crime and emasculating.

There is a generation that should read through these silly political games and consciously choose to have nothing to do with them for they portend a grim future.

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