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.