The Senate hit the ground running after resuming sittings last week with the Election Law (Amendment) Bill 2018 that went for a second reading. Sponsored by Kajiado Senator Ledama Olekina, the amendments sought to compel the Presiding Officer, candidates and agents to sign the declaration form at the polling station before proceeding to share them with the Returning Officer. While termed as a noble idea by his colleagues, most senators took issue with the finality that came with the signing of the forms especially in a case where there may be contention with the outcome.
A fact to appreciate with the discussions around this amendment Bill is the sober approach the Senators took towards it. The senators however reached consensus when they agreed to have the Section properly phrased before proceeding with the Bill.
“The problem isn’t reforms; it is us,” Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said while contributing to the Bill’s debate. This statement summed up almost the entire house’s sentiments on election reforms and attests to the underlying issues that are continuously ignored. It is no secret that elections are a touchy subject in Kenya. It is a period shrouded with public mistrust, negative ethnicity, display of self-centeredness by leaders and laxity. It is the one time in every 5 years that influences the political temperatures in the year that precedes an election and the one right after it.
Tension has become synonymous with our general elections, especially in the multiparty era. Anyone who chooses to dispute this fact given the handshake period we’re in, just needs one look at the scars visibly worn by victims of election violence. They serve as a reminder of what elections actually mean in Kenya.
Our goldfish memory syndrome makes us forget the period that was August 2017 to January 2018, when an election was nullified and dozens of people hurt in the process.