YVONNE’S TAKE: The bad manners in politics and the stinking hypocrisy

  • The Constitution and the Elections Act bar public officers from engaging in political activities.
  • Should they wish to do so, then they can resign and engage fully.
  • This is because it may interfere with the neutrality of their office or the perception of it.

It is election time once again and as the campaigns reach fever pitch even before the official campaign period kicks off, some mischievous trends have begun to emerge.

In recent weeks, we have seen public officers drawn from various arms of government engage in active campaigns. From Cabinet Secretaries and even the Solicitor General to the Director of Public Prosecutions speaking about some new political movement that was launched in the Northern part of Kenya.

All of these individuals know better. They know the law, or so we would believe. Because, the Constitution, the Elections Act and even the public officer’s Ethics Act and leadership and integrity laws all bar public officers from engaging in political activities. Should they wish to do so, then they can resign and engage fully.

But worse still is because this may interfere with the neutrality of their office or indeed the perception of it. More so now when we saw some of the same Cabinet Secretaries involved in a multi-agency taskforce launched by Kenya’s Chief Justice to support the mandate of the IEBC to deliver a free, fair and transparent election. The irony here is that these same people were openly campaigning for one political player just days before.

Now, whilst the CS for Interior might reject allegations of bias, saying that he in fact condemned and ensured the arrest of those who had organised violence at the DP’s visit to Busia recently, we all know what perceptions can do, particularly at a highly fractious moment such as this.

Who would blame anyone for imagining that they would take advantage of their public positions to influence the outcome of an election in which they have openly expressed support for and even campaigned on behalf of one particular candidate? Would we wonder about how those at the State law office would handle electoral disputes that might end up in the courts when they have openly expressed their political leanings?

Naturally, leaders allied to the opposing side of this, that is UDA, have loudly complained about this. Their concerns are quite valid and their calls for a free and fair process and adherence to election laws and basic good manners in this election contest are welcome. However, it is not lost on me, how much times have changed.

Every Kenyan still remembers how loudly silent some of today’s complainants were when these same electoral malpractices were committed in 2016 and 2017. At that time, they were the beneficiaries of the very illegal practices. Did we not see Cabinet Secretaries deployed to various parts of the country ‘launching development projects’ while urging voters to re-elect President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto?

In fact, when asked about this, then National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said: “The ministers were appointed by Jubilee and they are campaigning for Jubilee, is there anything wrong with that?” Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro was famously quoted as asking for the conversion of Kenya into a benevolent dictatorship so as to teach a lesson to those who were in the opposition then? Now he is complaining the loudest about the current illegalities.

Kweli wahenga hawakukosea walipo sema, mkuki kwa nguruwe kwa binadamu mchungu.

So, what’s my point. It was wrong for Cabinet Secretaries to be involved in campaigns in the run-up to the 2017 election and it is still wrong today. And so the Ndindi Nyoros and Alice Wahomes of this world have every right to condemn the misuse of public offices today but the lesson here is clear; that there is never a wrong time to stand up for the right thing. And that a wrong is a wrong no matter when it happens, regardless of who the victims are, regardless of who the perpetrators are. A wrong must be condemned regardless of which side of the political divide one finds themselves in, for you never know which side will be yours tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, all said and done, what we have seen in recent times does very little to inspire confidence in a free, fair and transparent process. And those seemingly benefiting from it today, would do well to call it out and reject it outright. We know the right thing to do and we must do it, now and always.

And that is my take.

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