Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 117
2 - 8 January, 2017


Can We Add Building Trust to Our New Year Resolutions?

New Year is the only time of the year that a wave of hope blows strong. People forgive each other, pledge to be kind to themselves and the world around them and ritually write down resolutions. In Kenya if there’s anything to resolve to do in 2017 it’s to deliberately build trust ahead of this year’s General Elections otherwise this country will fall apart. In the words of Stephen Covey trust is the glue of life, not shouting peace or we are one. Trust!

This year’s election is likely to be the most divisive yet with the opposition and ruling Jubilee having set the tone for their supporters who have little time for facts but swallow the politicians words like a fledgling feeding from an eagle. The debate on whether we should use manual back up or other means for the transmission of results that’s expected to be electronic has degenerated into a contest between the opposition and the government. Government experts including the ICT Cabinet Secretary present the government’s position for manual back up with lazy and flimsy reasons while pro-opposition are supporting the electronic transmission without acknowledging the challenge or offering a solid back-up plan. Both sides are suffering trust issues and so are their supporters.

In the past few years it’s like all the institutions in Kenya have been trying so hard to discredit themselves killing the little trust Kenyans had in them. No relationship can survive without trust; yet it’s so hard to earn trust and quite easy to lose it. The ‘Chickengate’ saga that visited Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has haunted the institution the last four years, thereby killing trust in a section of the electorate had in the commission. Public mistrust spurred the chaotic anti-IEBC demonstrations that saw the exit of the Isaac Hassan-led team.

One would have expected their exit was to restore trust in the new-look IEBC team but controversy continues to court the institution. The panel that recruited the new commissioners has had to defend their choices before Senate amid growing concerns over how the least qualified candidate ended up nominated as the chairperson of the new IEBC team. Regardless of how this matter is resolved, the new commissioners and their chairperson have less than eight months to rebuild trust.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan media mogul S.K Macharia sparked an old and tired debate over who won the Presidential vote in the 2007 elections after declaring to the Senate’s legal affairs committee that opposition leader Raila Odinga was the winner. He also claimed they had tracked all the results using satellite gadgets. However, S.K Macharia’s sudden willingness to publicly speak about this matter yet he never presented this evidence at the Kriegler commission is another reason we need to look at the media closely.

There’s no regime in Kenya that has split journalists right down the middle like Jubilee has done. Some journalists have made it their job to publicly defend the actions of the government thereby hurting not only their credibility but the objectivity of their media houses.  Our journalists therefore need to remember the journalistic code of conduct and do what is right by Kenyans.

News of the Week

Majority Leader under fire over alleged hate clip

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale found himself in trouble after a sound clip leaked on social media that allegedly has him directing that neighboring Bantu community be barred from registering as voters in Garissa. Opposition has quickly reacted asking that the Garissa Township MP face the full wrath of the law or they will write to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Hon. Duale has dismissed the clip as fake, saying it was neither audible nor verifiable and argued it was the work of his political enemies.

IEBC selection panel in a tight corner over picked candidates

The selection panel that interviewed the new Independent Electoral and Boundaries (IEBC) commissioners found themselves in an awkward position after it emerged that the panel had warring factions that shot down best candidates to improve favorite candidates. Independent observers including Ipsos Synovate’s Tom Wolf termed the process “horribly managed” adding that it was necessary for the panelists to explain the criteria they were using to award marks.  The panel however defended themselves saying the panel was not aware of some of the issues brought to the public’s attention after the interviews. In a press statement they further submitted that the process was done in a very open environment including giving the public at least seven days to report any information they may have on the candidates.

Senate passes controversial Election laws

Opposition is left mulling their next move after Jubilee had its way once again passing the contested Election Laws (Amendment) Bill without amendments. Jubilee Senators used their numbers to defeat any proposals to amend the controversial law by the opposition. CORD has now called all their aspirants from different parties under the coalition for a meeting at the Bomas of Kenya to forge a way forward. Council of Governors had also supported the opposition stand on the election laws mainly because of their dissatisfaction with the manual backup system that was part of the contentious clauses.

Parliament on Recess

Kindly note that both National Assembly and Senate are on recess. Nonetheless the National Assembly Speaker J.B Muturi has recalled MPs for a special sitting on January 17th to consider names of IEBC chair and EACC chair and members of these agencies.


Quote of the Week

"No Parliament succeeds if it is hell-bent on being a rubber- stamp Parliament."

Sentiments by Hon. Jakoyo Midiwo when contributing to the motion on adoption of report on the 2014/2015 budget policy statement on March 19, 2014

Read the Hansard

Lest we forget

"It is a shame that even as I speak at this point in time, we still have IDPs in the country. They are so many and yet we are fighting over power and positions. "

Sentiments by former Kitutu Masaba MP Hon. Walter Nyambati when contributing to the motion on Presidential adress on May 6, 2009.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Nominated Senator Hoseah Ochwang’i made headlines this week after stealing the show during the Senate special sitting. The Senator who represents youth interests at the Senate showed up with a letter claiming it authorized him to vote on behalf of Kisii Senator Chris Obure. Opposition members took issue with his claim as he is a nominated member, and by law can’t vote on matters representing counties as he was never elected. However after consultations with the county in question a nominated Senator can vote. It wasn’t clear whether he had made the said consultations. Also, Senator Obure in the past has been represented by Senator Janet Ongera which made his letter suspicious. But it was perhaps the Senator's loud absence in the Senate and his inability to present the views of the youth in the controversial election (amendment) laws that was passed that made him the talk of the week.


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