|By Simiyu Wakajuaness|
We are barely two weeks into the election year and the intensity of campaigns by both the incumbents and the opposition has already kicked balls.
One crucial phenomena the country must never forget is not the 2007 violence but the build-ups that generated the unfortunate trauma where 1,133 people lost their precious lives and 600,000 others displaced.
The then pollsters had boldly projected ODM leader Raila Odinga as the favourite to win the 2007 presidential polls against PNU’s president Mwai Kibaki, putting the nation to believe that the destiny of the ballot had already been decided.
Indeed, elections are not won through pollsters but through the ballot as recently depicted in America where businesses tycoon Donald Trump ignored opinion polls to emerge the winner of the most powerful seat in the world.
So far, we have not had serious poll results projecting Hon Raila Odinga and the incumbent President to whichever objectives they are meant to. We therefore expect several firms to come up with different statistics about the popularity of candidates in different regions.
Questions have, however, been raised about the sincerity of these opinion results by firms thought to be independent. Are these companies really independent or are they funded by interested parties who want to escape the shame and danger of being tagged “failures” even before the election?
These pollsters should work independently and produce results and questionnaire that is neutral and professional. Asking respondents if opposition leader should retire from politics due to his age and not President Uhuru Kenyatta due to the rampant, cropping corruption in his government has obviously generated debates on the possible financial muscles behind the researches.
That aside, the reason countries experience post election violence is because people feel their victory has been robbed and cannot trust the judicial systems put in place to settle their grievances and therefore storm the streets to hurl out their anger.
So far, unnecessary tension is already building up around the electoral team after the president signed the the controversial election laws allowing the body to use a manual register in case of a digital failure at the polling stations. This way, the opposition strongly believes the government is hatching a plan to rig the next general election just months away.
How is president Kenyatta going to convince the entire nation that the next polls are going to be free, fair and just? In his recent address to the nation during Jamuhuri Day celebrations, the president urged all aspirants to accept the results the electoral body will announce. Though it appeared dictatorial in a country where democracy is getting on track, it was very amicable from the head of state even if he is not constitutionally the head the counting body.
However, he should insist on preaching free and fair elections. If the election will be free and just, chances of peace prevailing in the country are all over in every air we breath as witnesses in Ghana, Gambia, Tanzania and America – save for the anti-Trump demonstrations in some states.
As economist David Ndii said, sometimes it’s not those who cast the ballot that decide the winner but those who count that ballot.
Let whoever that will win, win freely and squarely and the opponents will accept defeat without question. But if anyone is planning to steal someone’s hard-fought victory, preaching peace will be tantamount to painting the air.