And so, it is set to end. Finally the holidays are here, schools out and Kenyans are headed for a much needed break. The ghosts of the election’s year are now disappearing into the vaults. Or are they? 

Let’s linger here for a while then we can go back to the holidays. Not all the ghosts have left the scene yet. Remember the previous discussions on the IEBC split. The Bomas chasm of the commission has refused to go away. When several interested parties successfully petitioned parliament to set up a commission of inquiry into the conduct of the so-called Cherera 4 – commissioners who disowned the election results – we were all set up for a new election season soap opera. So, we have been forced to back up a little to watch the unravelling spectre. 

Things moved quickly after the parliamentary intervention and a commission was set up by the relevant authorities. Among its first tasks was to suspend the said commissioners so that the inquiry could start in earnest. Some commissioners decide to avoid the process altogether by resigning rather than face the scrutiny of what some of them considered a script that was designed to malign them. They were led by Justus Nyangaya who was later joined by Francis Wandera and Cherera herself

For a moment the opportunity for the inquiry seemed lost. The resignations would have defanged the commission of inquiry since the subject of the investigation would not be there. Some of us believe that we need more forensic inquiries into Kenyan electoral processes since it does seem that (based on public speculation mostly fueled by politicians) there are unseen hands that determine the winners and losers, especially of our presidential elections. So, any investigation in my view would help unravel the perceived mysteries that lurk behind the increasingly celebrated (internationally) outside veneer of the elections. Luckily one commissioner stood stoically and decided she would go on and clear her name. Hence the ongoing inquiry. Thank Irene Masit for that. 

Now we will get to hear the murky details of what is alleged to have conspired during that infamous Bomas of Kenya chaos and the parallel pressers done by the two sets of commissioners. It was a moment that had the country hanging on its straws. Details of nocturnal activities and secret rendezvous have already started emerging from the hearings. 

From my corner I feel that barring any politicisation of this process (really a tall bargain), our electoral process can benefit from an honest inquiry and lead us to a path that enlightens the interventions that we must surely make to improve the conduct of our electoral processes. We really do need to have serious conversations in this country on how to run our public affairs.

Outside of this activity there is the little matter of holding by-elections (first set already done, on 8th December) on the 5th of January and replacement of the three original commissioners; Chair Chebukati, Professor Guliye and Boya Molu, who will retire on the 17th of January. All this in the backdrop of evaluation of the election itself, formulation of the reform agenda and the mandatory delimitation of boundaries which must happen before December 2024. 

Seemingly we may have to do all this by starting off with a clean set of new commissioners. Tabula rasa.

Let’s pack all that and come back to the season of rest. In any case this country has a way of letting auto-pilot take over when things are thick. So, we will get the story of Bomas, get new commissioners, and still deliver on what must be done. Somehow!

The holidays will offer us some respite from a very gruelling year. And because we deserve it despite the hardships brought about by the poor economy still smarting from the covid-19 impacts and a very severe drought that has affected more than two-thirds of the country, we still need to celebrate and rest in all our unique ways. 

For those who visit the beaches and nature parks, allow the water to splash beyond the knee and indulge in the caress of the leaves across your face as you take your lazy walks. Those of us who will go to the village to dine and wine, let us remember to share with the mates we left behind, remember to listen to the wisdom of the old folks for guidance as we find out how they are faring. Let’s invite the long-lost relatives and friends for our celebrations and dance the nights away to our favourite tunes. Watch the glide of the birds and the forming and unforming of the clouds far behind them. Let’s admire the colours of charm brought about by our flora and fauna. And let’s let a lady bird rest on our palms then follow it as it flies away from one leaf to the next until it gets consumed in the abundance of outgrowths that line our paths. 

Enjoy your holidays and as it is with the common kenyan parlance, we shall revisit all our conversations in 2023. 

Memoirs of Mulle Musau

Author

  • Mulle Musau

    Mulle Musau is the National Coordinator for Kenya’s Elections Observation Group (ELOG), of which he has been part of since 2010. Under ELOG, Mulle was part of the election observation missions which oversaw the 2010 constitutional referendum, as well as the 2013, 2017 and 2022 general elections. Regionally, Mulle was a founding member and current Regional Coordinator (since 2016) of the East and Horn of Africa election Observers Network (EHORN), covering Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya, with Eritrea holding an observer status. In 2016 through 2017, Mulle served as Chairperson of the Transparency Committee in the Board of the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM), a global network of observation platforms with a membership of over 200 organizations. During this time, Mulle consulted with the International Peace and Support Centre (IPSC), the Carter Centre, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISDA), Konrad Adeneur Stiftung (KAS), among others. Mulle’s other election-related work includes external evaluation of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network’s 2018 election program; leading research for the doctoral project An Assessment of the Legal and Institutional Frameworks of Elections in East Africa: A Comparative Study of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in 2016; and production of policy papers for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (Gaps in the Campaign Financing laws in Kenya). Currently, Mulle co-convenes a continental elections observation think tank, the African Election Observation Network (AfEONet), hosting leading experts on elections.