Sunday, January 13, 2008

KENYA MEDIA -when the Kenyan people Needed it the Most

The Media’s Culpability in Kenya’s Election circus

Kenyans went to polls on December 27, 2007 to elect their political representatives. The elections were held in what was reported by independent observers as well as the media as peaceful, free, fair and all available adjectives that can be used to describe virtues.
Various reports and commentaries and the (mane) consultants who were on the ground also noted. It would be wrong to simply describe the outcome and the current status of the country which was otherwise known to be sane as deplorable.
Looting !03
There are two issues that must be pointed out: 1.) The international communities’ call for dialogue between the two political leaders; Raila Odinga of Orange Democratic Movement and the crown President, Mwai Kibaki of Party of National Unity is unworkable and misplaced and 2.) The Kenya media has let the public down and is thus culpable in the genocidal acts now facing the country.

Dialogue:
Pushing Kibaki and Odinga into a closed-door or open-door dialogue would be pointless since we believe that the situation in Kenya, whereas it could be viewed as a power struggle between the two leaders, to the Kenyan citizen, it’s more than that. The leaders have no mandate to discuss the electorates’ decision of December 27.

The leaders may even agree to a power-sharing scenario as being called for by some commentators, but would the public agree with a situation of two presidents while they only elected one? It has to be either Kibaki or Odinga, but not both.

Secondly, it would not be the first time the two entered into some agreement; they had one before they managed to remove Daniel arap Moi’s KANU from power. This agreement was broken where the two and several others in the coalition, unceremoniously parted ways. Kenyans thus lost trust in agreements signed between political leaders –basically, the agreements are not binding.guns vs twigs

Political leadership in Kenya have lost trust of the electorates. If the unexplained election results are allowed to stand, how easy would it be for the next set of leaders to manipulate election results and then hope to have dialogue to maintain status quo? If it’s leadership by dialogue, what reason would the electorates have to head to the polls come 2012 to pretend to choose their leaders only for the outcome to be overturned by state security?

The violence we are witnessing from a section of the public is not tribal as now being reported in a section of foreign press that easily grabbed the ethnic angle (may be because it sounds better for their audiences) or simply because they don’t understand the tribal situation of the country.

Most importantly, Kenya should not be compared to the Rwanda genocide. The difference is a big one: Rwanda had two tribes (ethnic groups); Tutsis and Hutus, while Kenya has over forty ethnic groupings. The majority in Kenya are below the age group of 50 most of who have inter-married to a point their children do not align themselves with any one particular tribe.

Others would argue with this reasoning and demand to know why the casualties have mainly been from two ethnic groups; the Luos and the Kikuyus. To answer this, politically, the two groups could have been political rivals since independence in 1963. That was when Jaramogi Oginga, Raila Odinga’s father, reportedly declined to take leadership of the country from the British colonial government while the other freedom fighters including Jomo Kenyatta were still in detention, only for Kenyatta to sideline him and his group three years after independence. But such political animosity had never regenerated into violence at a scale now being witnessed.

Secondly most Luos who have died since Kibaki was declared president have been victims of police gun-power while most Kikuyus who have been killed during the same period have suffered in areas that are not dominated by Luos.

As Philip Ochieng, a columnist with Kenya’s Sunday Nation wrote, people have been venting their anger on the wrong people. It’s a situation where nearly all the other ethnic groups in the country are ganging-up against the group they believe rigged the elections. Unfortunately the victims were not party to the manipulation of votes.Country on fire

The unfortunate situation is that those responsible for fixing poll results reside in fortified homes beyond the reach of the offended electorates while the poor Kikuyu man, woman and child who have been struggling like most Kenyans have become vulnerable. This is what has resulted into the senseless attacks on a people who have lived as loving neighbours for decades.

Possible mediators must first acknowledge that talking between the two leaders alone would not be enough because the electorates would not trust their respective motives. The electorates want their votes to count and until that issue is addressed, the animosity amongst easy targets shall likely prevail.

Kibaki’s previous leadership was laced with acts of corruption, re-appointments of previously retired old-guards into positions as opposed to numerous highly qualified younger generation.

To prove this lack of trust, as our consultants were busy working on this analysis, three things happened. First was the acceptance of an international mediator in the form of the Africa Union’s Chair, John Kufuor, next, Kibaki extended invitation to Odinga to meet him at his State House jointly with key ODM members on Friday January 11. And finally, as Kufuor was arriving in Nairobi, Tuesday January 8, Kibaki was announcing his Cabinet through a pre-recorded television address.
Kufuor Kibaki and Raila

The reasoning could elude most, but should the mediation go the people’s way and another presidential election were to be called, Kibaki is preparing to share the spoils with Kalonzo Musyoka whom he has appointed as his vice-president.

He is banking on Musyoka’s 879,903 votes that the latter collected in the disputed elections. Musyoka’s supporters would likely vote for Kibaki with the hope that their candidate would be the next on-line to the country’s top political leadership.

With the current Kenya’s Constitution, the president has powers to appoint and fire all in his Cabinet; so what would stop Kibaki from firing his deputy, Musyoka or just fail to re-appoint him once he has succeeded in the re-run? Nothing! But that would be enough to return peace to the Republic. The anger of ODM supporters would then be redirected at Musyoka and not Kibaki.

The Media:
Journalists are known to source for information often using the tagline the public has a right to know and we are here to tell them…For this reason, when all had failed, the public expected the Kenyan media to tell them exactly what went wrong. This is also the reason why the first thing the new Kibaki’s government did after hurriedly being sworn into office was to ban all live transmissions and a subsequent threat to media houses against publishing or broadcasting any alarming reports. The excuse John Michuki, the then Minister for Internal Security gave was “in the interest of public security.”

We hereby revisit days before the illegal gag: nearly all media houses had reporters at various key constituencies. Reporters filed results as they were being announced. Even Samuel Kivuitu initially praised the media for being timely in their reports. Let’s re-cap what takes place on a normal polling day.

An electorate would queue for his turn to enter the polling station. Once inside the designated area, he/she would produce his/her voters cards and an Identity Card, the two documents that are used to verify if he/she is the individual he/she claims to be. The voter is then confirmed to be registered to vote at that particular station.

Once all these are authenticated, the voter would be provided with his/her first ballot paper for the local government representative (Councilor) followed by the legislative representative (MP) then finally the presidential candidate. All these take place under the watchful eye of observers, the media, respective parties’ agents and the electoral officials.

At the close of voting, the ballot boxes are respectively emptied and counted. The results are then noted by the Presiding Officer and counter-signed by all agents before being conveyed to the Constituency’s Returning Officer who tally them up, still in the presence of all the above and the agents sign their acceptance or note any disagreements if any. Then the RO would make his announcement to all that are present.

At that point, the reporters would be filing their reports to their respective newsrooms or political desk as the Returning Officers would be seeking means of relaying the same results to the Electoral Commission’s headquarters. Nothing should be altered after the announcement.

To begin with, if there were such huge numbers of voters who just decided to vote for their presidential candidates and not the rest, the observers and the journalists on the ground would not have missed it.

As it was later to transpire, the figures alleged to have reached the ECK’s headquarters from some constituencies (after the alleged disappearances of some Returning Officers) were quite different from those collected by the reporters and observers. Whereas the observers maintained their figures, all media houses, for whatever reasons, agreed to adjust the figures collected by their reporters.

With the senseless killings in Kenya, the local media owes the public, in whose names they’ve always solicited information, an explanation why they never stood by their figures. If their respective reporters got it wrong, then the public has a right to know what else in the past they had got wrong.
Kivuitu Under Pressure03

This cannot be blamed on any political pressure. The moment the Chairman of the Electoral Commission admitted that he wasn’t sure whether Kibaki had won the elections, the media was under the obligation to tell their audience something like, “according to our respective reporters spread across the country, our tallies showed xxx results while the ECK’s uncertain tallies were yyy.”

Yet to date, as this report was being filed, no media house, apart from some few online sites, have been bold enough to do so. As things stand now, ECK has no results and the media houses have decided to keep their figures under lock and key. Should these lots be relied upon to report any truth?

It’s professionally unacceptable for Kenyan media to blame the government for the gag while they have voluntarily ignored their responsibility to keep the public informed objectively without fear or favor. This culpability should not be allowed in whatever environment. It is fraud in the part of the media.

2 comments:

uncle joe said...

It is not with surprise that I read the view that Mwai Kibaki is not the legitimate president of Kenya. This view is so pervasive that even many who supported the president have been deceived into taking it up.That it is so widespread is a tribute to the ODM’s knack for lies and its efficiency at pushing them as truth. It is also in no small part a result of the political ineptitude of the PNU and State House.The view is predicated on two strands of thought. The first, published by the ODM and a perpetuation of its hateful and divisive anti-GEMA strategy, declares that President Kibaki won only one of Kenya’s provinces and is therefore not the true president of all Kenya. The second, declares the election stolen by the incumbent, and rather cheekily insists that the extension of his tenancy at State House is a ‘coup’.

National Support
This first argument is only one of the few in the litany of lies the ODM has rammed through a servile, biased media. The facts speak for themselves, Mwai Kibaki won 4 out of Kenya’s provinces and MPs running on pro-Kibaki platforms won more than 100 seats with victories in every single province. None of his rivals even came close to the same level of support. Kibaki also won a sizeable number of votes even in the provinces where he was overall second best, reaching the 25% mark in every province but Nyanza, where he still managed to poll 17% of the vote. The ODM candidate on the other hand posted a measly 2% and 5% in Central and Eastern provinces, and managed 25% in only six of the provinces.

‘But the bulk of the president’s votes were GEMA votes,’ comes the reply. Well, that may be true but the formulation GEMA itself makes into one what are properly a multitude of ethnicities. More importantly however, our democracy as currently fashioned makes no demands on the ethnicity of voters desiring merely that the victorious candidate have the approval of at least 25% from five provinces to underline his nationalist credentials. To reiterate, it is not communities, faiths or regions that vote. It is individuals.

This is no trivial point. The ODM has taken even before the election to making the case that their candidate was the People’s Candidate, Kenya’s candidate. That was all very well for that period when presentation and marketing were more important than truth; but in this the post-election period, the party and its supporters would do well to realise that by any estimation fully 4 million Kenyans declared their support for each of the two leading candidates. So it is that even now,as the party and its supporters persist in saying that the Kenyan people have been robbed, the Kenyan people are angry, they must remember that there are some Kenyans a substantial number, a majority even who actually voted for Kibaki - and who rejected the ODM.

For starters, it is most irresponsible, if typical of the ODM to neglect to take into account the votes of these 4 million, they are after all just GEMA, Gikuyu, Embu, Meru, Mbeere, Tharaka; you know those people, not Kenyans. This diligently crafted Us vs Them dichotomy explains why the ODM’s leaders have not yet seen fit to visit, or even declare peace with the communities that are being victimised by the outbreaks of violence- communities which in the pre-election campaigns they worked very hard to demonise. When it is not demonising them directly, the ODM and its agents continually seek to invite the GEMA to join Kenyans in voting ODM, proposing all the time that to vote differently is unKenyan.

This is part of the reason for the renewal in Kikuyu nationalism, a whole community has been forced to the wall by the invective of three years and two political campaigns. We stand in our millions -along with Kenyans of every ethnic persuasion in rejection of ethnic chauvinism- and declare to the ODM that we are adamant in our support for President Kibaki and that we too retain the inalienable right to the appellation, Kenyan. We respect that there are those, our brothers and sisters from across the country, with different political persuasions, but never in a million years would we think to pretend that those opinions made them less Kenyan than we are. If it is the sheer numbers in Central Kenya that intimidate the opposition into taking this position, also published as the 41 versus 1 strategy, then the ODM have to now get to their grassroots and urge a population boom. Anything else hurts all of us, and the victims of this hatred will not just be the Gikuyu. The economic and social effects of this policy of excluding one group from the whole will be profound, and as many in Western Kenya are finding, life without the other is not exactly a bed of roses.

The end of this hatred is especially urgent for ODM for, in light of the premeditated and barbaric ODM action in the Rift Valley and across the country, it is unlikely that too many Kenyans, even those who had previously aligned themselves with the party will be particularly drawn to it and its divisive politics any more. The consequences of all the strident screeching about Majimbo and the theory that the Gikuyu hogged all the country’s resources have finally manifested themselves.

Election irregularities

I find it most unfair to look merely at one set of election irregularities while turning a blind eye to the other. Such a predisposition is not only unhelpful, but declares a bias that precludes a just assessment of the elections. It is not unlinked to the over-arching theory of Gikuyu hegemony as it dictates that only one side in the election had the wherewithal to interfere with the vote.

The media and observers seem to have focused merely on crimes committed during the final vote tallying while ignoring the fact that there were several irregularities in ODM zones.

For starters, there was no free will in the vote in Nyanza. Long before the election begun, candidates who would have stood against the ODM nominees were compelled to stand down and those who resisted were demonised and accused of perfidy to the tribe. There were prior to the elections, outbreaks of violence against the disloyal, outbreaks which led to the displacement and non-participation of such persons. There are also credible reports that women and those from communities likely predisposed to vote different than the ODM were obstructed from exercising their voting rights by hooligans either inspired by or hired by the ODM. As the ODM candidate demanded at a campaign rally in Eldoret, ‘hatutaki madoadoa’.

Even worse, and as confirmed by KEDOF in their final vote report, agents representing parties allied to Mwai Kibaki and Kalonzo Musyoka were denied entry into vote counting and vote tallying centres, including most famously Nyayo Stadium where what had been widely billed a close race between Raila Odinga and Stanley Livondo was turned into a rout of suspiciously monumental proportions. This as Uhuru Kenyatta complained, came after Livondo and his group were locked out of the stadium.

Some have asked why the government did not then use the police to back up the blocked voters and insist that the opposition agents be allowed entry at these events. The truth is that the tense pre-election atmosphere did not allow for any use of force by the government, indeed any such moves would have been seen as persecution and would have cost the government votes at the election. Those asking this forget that there were already killings in Nyanza of police personnel prior to the election and that it is this state of violence that ensured that Kibaki and Kalonzo affiliated agents were wary of performing their duties there. Importantly also, any such interference would have undermined the independence of the ECK which was the organisation charged with the proper conduct of the elections. The instruments of legal and legitimate use of force are restricted to use in the protection of the polling station and its environs from the vagaries of the contestants and their agents.

Finally, it is most categorically not true that it is impossible to conduct a re-tally of the forms sent to Nairobi by the poll centres around the country. The agents of all the parties contesting the election carry with them copies of the results announced in these centres and should retain copies of the electoral forms. These can be availed for a national re-tallying, which as the Justice Minister Martha Karua told the BBC’s Hard Talk, the government is very willing to facilitate when ordered by a court of law. Karua herself was part of a group of politicians including George Nyamweya, James Orengo and Anyang’ Nyong’o who sat through the night of the 29th of December with ECK officials and went over the vote tallies from across the land. They subtracted the entire element of suspicious added on votes that the ODM had complained about and Kibaki’s total was adjusted accordingly.

When it was found that the vote still indicated a Kibaki victory, the ODM side sought the very next day to reverse their previous urge for the expeditious publication of the result (remember the ODM had on the 28th and 29th been putting pressure on Kivuitu to announce the victor) and instead began a campaign (Raila even stormed Kivuitu’s home at 0700) to have Kivuitu delay the announcement. Commentators seem to have forgotten that Musalia Mudavadi had already announced the election for the ODM or that there were riots in Kisumu that demanded the election result be announced. Now it seems we only focus on the pressure from the PNU and ODM-K, forgetting all the time the even greater pressure from the ODM the previous day.

As the leaked memo from World Bank country director Colin Bruce avers, the facts are clear. The ODM is only too aware that such a re-assessment would make clear that they lost the election, and are as a result wary of appealing to the courts for such a re-tallying. Mwai Kibaki is the legal, but also the legitimate president of Kenya, which fact will soon be proved in a court of law

jAnaM said...

uncle joe, welcome to the discussion table. But before we sit around this table, lets make fews points clear.1)bring with you only and i mean only facts not propaganda. this is not panu/odm platform. this is a kenyan platform- you get where i am coming from? 2)Be a ware that kenya is whole, not parts of it. 3)consider taking the truth path-as nobody can/will prove you wrong in the face of the truth. it also sets us free.
Now, in response to your comment
mwai kibaki's presidency is disputed so it is only fair to say it's legitimate.kivuitu himself said as much. he was the one who picked him-fact.2)when you start talking about gema..etc, you lose focus because this is not gema vs all but kenya and her future. It will be tragic if for example, a president from kisii-nyanza,luhya-western,coast,Ne,central
etc to fraudulently hoodwink the electorate into buying in the thieving as a way of life.3)
supply and lay bare for the world to see the 4 provinces that you know is known to be won by mwai kibaki.......
4)4million votes you are referring to are misleading...they are the ones in dispute....so it is not yet known exactly how many people really voted for mwai kibaki
5)kikuyu nationalism?-kikuyu is a tribe in kenya not a nation...in essence there can be no such thing as kikuyu/kalenjin/luhya/luo nationalism within itself.
5)Thus i have concluded that you are not ready to save kenya. you are a panu hawk out to confuse the kenyan people. My last words..this is 21st century. you can take off your delusional outfit and get the one that reads....reality