Today marked the 54th Jamhuri day celebrations in Kenya as we commemorate the establishment of Kenya as a republic in 1964. On this day, we usually come together as a nation to celebrate our culture, heritage and history with the national event graced with speeches from leaders, parades from our military wing and also traditional songs and dances. It is also one of the days we reflect on how the year has been and the achievements we have been able accomplish.
For many years, this event has attracted tens of thousands of people across the country, but surprisingly this year has been a big disappointment with the low turnout at Kasarani Stadium. The national stadium was almost empty contrary to what the numbers have been in the previous years, as people chose not to show up.
It is no doubt that this occurrence has been a result of the political turmoils Kenya has been experiencing since the beginning of August when we conducted the general elections.
The Kenyan elections hit headlines all over the world since a week after they were conducted. The country’s Supreme Court (led by Chief Justice David Maraga) nullified the election, declaring the whole process to have been shambolic, and that the credibility of the election had been compromised. The highest court in the country also made it clear that I.E.B.C (the Kenyan independent body with the mandate of overseeing elections across the country) had not strictly followed the stipulated guidelines provided within the Kenyan constitution. This attracted different reactions all over the globe as it was a historic moment for a presidential election to have been nullified.
On the evening before the repeat of the elections, the leader of opposition, Raila Odinga, pulled out of the race because the electoral body had not implemented the electoral reforms and loopholes that had been brought forward during the petition. The body went on and carried out the repeat poll, but it was surprising again to see low voters turn out drastically across the country. The majority of those who came out to vote for the second time came from Central Province and Rift Valley Province which are the strongholds of Uhuru Kenyatta and his ally William Ruto (both having come from those parts of Kenya, respectively).
Kenyan politics have always been led by tribalism with people voting for leaders from their own tribes instead of considering other factors, such as a proven track record of responsibility for these leaders. The same case applies to Philippines, where people vote with interest being on the contesting political families. This definitely gives credence to the hypothesis that Democracy is not the best form of governance for some countries — Kenya being a perfect example. Citizens vote for leaders who are not accountable to the progress of their countries who may actually have poor manifestos and development policies. The U.S is another example; Donald Trump is being banished and trolled by the citizens who ‘elected’ him.
Democracy does not seem to help create change in governance before the official political term of the elected leader comes to an end. If it happens that those who voted are not content with the leader they elected, then they have to wait for the remaining years of the term to end. We have the case of impeaching a president to get him out of office but this is not a walk in the park process — that is why we don’t see it happen. It is time to think about a new better form of governance that can solve all these issues.
“Democracy is the worst form of Government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time” – Winston Churchill, 1947.