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Kenya's Election: In The Courts We Trust.
The Deep Dive 34th Edition
Kenya's election is making for fascinating commentary not just at home, but in various parts of Africa. I had a number of long-running conversations with a fellow journalist from Zimbabwe, and was amazed at how entrenched his audiences positions are, either behind President-elect William Ruto or his opponent, veteran politician Raila Odinga. In Lusaka, Zambia, I overheard loud arguments one way and another about the election as people watched news of Raila Odinga's submission of his election petition to the Supreme Court on the 22nd of August. You can read or download the 2022 Kenya Presidential Election Petitions here.
It is tempting to navel-gaze, but the more likely answer as to why the interest in Kenya's poll may have more to do with the familiar hopes and fears that come with any African election. The wings of hope for a credible poll spread every time Africans troop to the polls, but they have often-times been clipped by the bitter realities of interference, irregularities and violence. Africans are more deserving of credible elections and transitions of power than anywhere else in the world, because Africa's peoples have continually submitted to the idea that their voices matter when choosing their leaders, damn the realpolitik that has extinguished such "dangerous ideas" before. Yet again Kenya's political elite head to the Supreme court, the only institution that has held the line for a public yearning for credibility, clarity and closure to their electoral cycle. We're still focused on this election, with in-depth stories, interviews and fact-checks to keep you up to speed with Kenya's election. Check out our 2022 Elections Playlist on our YouTube Channel which we will be updating with more content as events unfold.
New Explainer: How To Win An Election
An electoral contest worth following will take place on August the 29th in Mombasa County, home to Kenya's second city. It is Kenya's dazzling coastal jewel, but you wouldn't know this given how much of Mombasa has fallen into disrepair. Two candidates, both with promising credentials as leaders are in a fight to lead the county as its next governor. John-Allan Namu and producer, Elijah Kanyi filmed with both camps, and tease out a few tips from each candidates playbook on how to win the gubernatorial election.
Raquel Muigai on Covering the 2022 General Elections
I have always believed that covering elections in Kenya should be considered an extreme sport because you just never know what will happen that will force the adrenaline out of you. Unlike the previous election year where I found myself between rowdy youths and energised security officers, 2022 found me being an audience to the chaos that were our politicians at the National Tallying Centre, the Bomas of Kenya. A few days before this happened, my colleague Elijah Kanyi and I paid a visit to Mathare area of Nairobi a few days after the polls.
A key area for any journalist covering elections, not because of anything else but how volatile it could get during such a period. I loved that the electorate matured over those few years since the last election. Sadly, I can’t say the same for our politicians. Still, covering elections in Kenya qualifies to be an extreme sport.
Has The Mt Kenya Region Abandoned Uhuru Kenyatta?
Looking at previous elections in Kenya, covering the 2022 general elections in Central Kenya felt different. While people came out to exercise their democratic right to vote, the low turnout and a lack of enthusiasm as previously seen for this process and its outcome could be felt in many polling stations. Just what happened to the clarion call Kumira Kumira?(Come out in large numbers and vote)
We covered the elections in Kiambu County where the outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta hails from. It's in this area where he served as a Member of Parliament before becoming Kenya's head of state.
However, the voters didn't seem enthusiastic about this election. They went ahead and voted overwhelmingly against Uhuru's preferred successor Raila Odinga with Deputy President, now President elect, sweeping the region with UDA party dubbed the hustler nation. But Raila Odinga has filed a case to the Supreme Court citing electoral malpractices.
Fact Checks on Elections by Thomas Mukhwana
Piga Firimbi out to blow the whistle on TikTok
False information began circulating online months before Election Day. While some were downright ridiculous, others were maliciously laced with hate that could have had grave consequences. One app at the centre of all this is TikTok.
As Piga Firimbi’s Tracy Anne and Linda Ngari posited in an article Is TikTok a ticking time bomb?, “TikTok did not have any labelling policies for misinformation and potentially harmful content particularly applying to Kenya during an election season.” It was for this reason that Piga Firimbi joined TikTok to counter the rising disinformation on the platform which despite its growing influence, still remains largely unregulated. In this video for example, we debunked the inaccurate claim that Mt. Kenya and Rift Valley combined hold 50% of Kenya’s electorate.
Now that Kenya has peacefully gotten through an election we enter another fragile season, one of petitions and a transition process. Misinformation will still flood our timelines and political rhetoric will continue to reign the air waves. Verification using a simple Google search could go a long way to uphold the truth and maintain peace.
Reflection Covering the Diaspora Voters By Wambui Mwaura.
During the just concluded Kenya’s election, I was assigned the task of covering Kenyan voters in the diaspora by our assignment editor at Africa Uncensored. I have always had an interest in Kenyans living in the Diaspora when it comes to voting, specifically, whether this group of voters can become a game changer in future elections.
For instance, it is estimated that over 500,000 Kenyans presently live in the United States of America. Think of the number of potential Kenyan diaspora voters everywhere else. According to a report by the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenyans living abroad sent home a record Ksh.421.6 billion ($3.718 billion) in 2021, setting a new all-time record for the diaspora remittances across a single year. Remittances grew by 20.2% from Ksh.350.9 billion ($3.094 billion) in Dec 2020. This population deserves to have a say in deciding Kenya's political future.
However, IEBC stipulated that for diaspora voters to be able to participate in Kenyan election exercise in any given country, that country must have a Kenyan embassy or consulate. Only 12 countries were mapped to participate by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for the 2022 election cycle. These countries are: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, South Africa, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. Diaspora voters were only able to vote for presidential candidates.
As Kenyans agonized over a very slow counting and tallying process after August the 9th, I could not help but wonder if the IEBC could have done more in making the voting process more accessible for the Kenyans living in diaspora. In the United States, only 3 polling stations were mapped for voting by IEBC: Washington DC, Los Angeles and New York. These logistics made it extremely hard for better voter turnout on the subcontinent. For instance, the IEBC did not serve areas where a majority Kenyans reside in the USA. One voter in Los Angeles intimated that in some instances, it would take one person over $4000 in transportation and other miscellaneous expenses to make the round trip to an IEBC designated polling station; that is if one was able to extricate oneself from their job(s). This made for such a low turnout of voters in a country which has enough diaspora voters to swing the Kenyan election in any direction. The same was the story of voters living in the U.A.E.; only 2 polling stations were open, leaving voters in the other 5 Emirates without a place to cast their ballots.
I believe that with the advent of the internet and other technological advances, no Kenyan should be left behind in exercising their democratic right of determining their leaders through the ballot. For instance, Americans are allowed to register to vote from any location in the world, and registration is done online. The same applies for other Countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany. The voters in these countries can also vote for different elective posts, while Kenya’s diaspora could only vote for Presidential candidates. Everyone of voting age should be able to vote for their preferred candidates, whether they live abroad or in Kenya, across all elective posts.
We had voters tell stories about their voting experiences on Africa Uncensored from such locations as the UK, USA and the U.A.E. To create more inclusive coverage, we partnered with journalists across the globe, who at times worked round the clock to accommodate the differences in time zones.
There were largely positive voter stories with interesting perspectives. From their accounts, there were hardly any irregularities or delays in polling centres. However, the major concerns were long distances to the polling stations and being limited to vote for Presidential candidates.
Lastly, while covering this wholesome exercise, I was reminded of how interconnected our world has become. Still, were it not for good team work and the desire to include these voices, my assignment may not have been successful.
The Big Picture: You Don’t Lose, You Learn - Lessons from first time candidate Jahmby Koikai
This week's guest on The Big Picture is a study in true grit and determination. Jahmby Koikai, one of Kenya's most beloved reggae radio presenters threw her hat in the ring to represent the constituency of her birth, Dagoretti North as its Member of Parliament. The race didn't go her way this time around, but boy does she have gems to share about running a campaign in Kenya as a young person.
This episode will premier on our YouTube Channel on Wednesday 24th August at 3PM. Don’t miss out!
Editorial Director: John-Allan Namu
Assignment Editor: Sam Munia
Social Media Manager: Muraguri Gitahi
Contributors: John Allan Namu, Raquel Muigai, Joy Kirigia, Sam Munia, Thomas Mukhwana and Wambui Mwaura.
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