Council vs corporate; who’s our man?
Judging from the reaction on Twitter, that online blackboard where we are all very smart and calm, a fair number of people were surprised at how good Ferdinand Waititu was in that face-off with Evans Kidero.
It did not help that when he was given the chance to ask Waititu a question, Kidero condescendingly asked whether Nairobians ought to buy helmets (to protect themselves from Waititu’s stones). Yet when the former deputy mayor was given the same opportunity, he spent a minute putting it in context and then asked the former Mumias Sugar man what he was doing entangled with poor people and their land.
While we know from his past public life that Waititu is arguably a council thug, the suggestion he made, and which Kidero explained in a circuitous manner, is that the sugar man could also be a corporate thug. Question is; which thug can we trust?
We have all had that moment in life where the wiry chap in the fight delivers a blow so strong and so accurate that people wonder where the hell it came from and where it had been all along. Kidero did not end up prostrate like Manny Pacquiao but plenty of people agree that we surely need to listen a bit more to the declared front-runners in the race to become the governor of Kenya’s most important city.
Because he wrote me a long email on my gmail account, let me also add here that Mutinda Kavembu is also in the race to become governor.
What is clear though is that we, Nairobians and Kenyans in general, need more time listening to the people who will be shouting in our ears and messing up all public spaces with posters before we can decide who to vote for. We should also find out what they were up to in their other lives.
Before this, of course, was the small matter of the shambolic party primaries.
Try hard and you’ll see the good
It is impossible, I believe, to put in the words the extent to which party nominations were a sham. It is also impossible to see the good stuff that has come from these chaotic affairs.
While beginning the long wait for results in Kiambu, Billy Mutai and I settled down on some white plastic chairs at Kiambu Community Hall. We had not noticed the pile of ballot papers beside us until after we had emailed some photos to the office. We were struck by how easy it would have been for a voter to stroll over and pick a few extra ballot papers to mark and stuff in the boxes.
But then Billy expressed surprise that the papers actually had photographs of the candidates next to their names. Earlier, when we encountered the ballot boxes, we focused more on the late arrival of the ballot papers than the fact that for the first time in Kenya’s history, parties were using actual transparent boxes, and in some cases buckets, to ensure that the process is seen to be free of any undue influence.
That most of the parties failed to prove that this was going to be true is the subject of much analysis in the newspapers. In our analysis, we are bound to forget that all these delays could result from the fact that the party officials were inexperienced and would have been handing contracts to their friends, relatives and business partners. The optimistic ones should however mark this as a small but important step in the right direction.
C is for Communication, IEBC
This is more like a personal problem for professional reasons, I must confess. For four of the past week’s seven days, I was on the trail of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
I say ‘on the trail’ because it has been very difficult to get hold of the commission and the person they have employed as their main communication person is harder to reach than the chairman himself. When you do reach that person, you would be surprised if they gave you any information.
Yet the commission has extended deadlines willy nilly, made grand sounding statements about cancelling results in places where nominations went beyond the deadline without explaining how this would be done and then received and put the list of nominees in their cupboards.
I am among those who were glad when Mary Wambui, Rachel Shebesh, Njoroge Baiya and Cecily Mbarire stormed Anniversary and gave the commission a thorough psychological shake. I wasn’t surprised that they called a press conference the following day, and neither was there any news in their threat to disqualify the four from participating in the elections.
The good thing from all this was that they agreed to post online the lists submitted to them- which they should have done in the first place anyway because all that is public information.
It says something about the whole saga that we are yet to hear from the commission what action it will take against the four. We all know it will issue a formal warning, though.
We need the losers in Parliament
Still on matters nomination, isn’t it quite a surprise what the parties have gone and done with the lists of people they would give free seats in Parliament (the National Assembly and the Senate)?
I disagree with those who say that Oburu Oginga, Beth Mugo and other relatives of the big boys shouldn’t have been on the lists, and that the leaders of the Amani and Eagle coalitions and Martha Karua shouldn’t have been provided this soft landing either.
Those who complain about this are under the false impression that Kenyan politics is at the point at which politicians who lose in elections go back to their real careers. It was very clear when Danson Mungatana introduced to the Political Parties Act the clause allowing parties to nominate election losers to Parliament that this was designed to protect those the parties consider important from stepping out into the political cold.
Among the benefits is that Ms Karua can go back to being the reasonable, observant, concise, often impartial and robust debater she usually is in Parliament. It’s hard to say much about the rest because they have mostly been in Government, and have therefore not had much to say in Parliament.
The good thing about all this is they have to work very hard to ensure their parties get enough members in the two houses to guarantee them places.
If they don’t, we all know what will happen and how happy we will be.
Glad the beaten guy told his story
Hanging out at reception at the IEBC on Wednesday afternoon, a young man in a blue safari hat entered the room and after making a few inquiries settled down.
His right arm trapped in a white new sling, the man then took off the floppy hat.
And we all quietly shifted attention away from Twitter, Facebook and the games on our phones and had a good wide-eyed look at the young man in front of us.
He had a thoroughly blackened eye, a two-inch stitch down on the right side of his face, another long stitch on his head and several other threaded repairs to various other previously open areas on his head.
He told us he had come from Kuria and was a victim of violence during the party primaries.
The man wasn’t willing neither to have his photographs taken nor his story told but I was quite happy to see David Mwita on Page 5 of the Sunday Nation.