AUTHORITARIANISM VERSUS DEMOCRACY IN KENYA

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AUTHORITARIANISM VERSUS DEMOCRACY IN KENYA

AUTHORITARIANISM VERSUS DEMOCRACY IN KENYA

 By Emmanuel Otieno

The rough leadership versus the legal battle of democratic ideas

Authoritarianism defined from the concept of waging of ideological war ; false news , restricted civil society  and demonize marginalized communities.

I would like to begin by clearly defining the meaning of authoritarianism from known schools of thought and great philosophers. I would like to define authoritarianism using Juan Linz’s influential 1964 description that ascertains certain key components /characteristics of such regime. In his key definition he defines authoritarian political systems by four qualities,

         .Limited political pluralism which place constraints on political institutions and groups such as legislatures, political parties and interest groups.

         . A basis of Legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat ‘easily recognizable societal problems’’ such as underdevelopment or insurgency.

         . Minimal social mobilization often caused by constraints on the public such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity.

        . Informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers.

(Clarification of time frames, citation, ) 

I would then move and define what democracy is about and how it has been defined by various people and then do a comparison and relates it directly to what has been happening to our country.

Democracy on the other hand has been defined as a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state typically through elected representatives. It has also been defined as government by the people, rule of the majority, a government which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly or through elected representatives, belief in freedom and equality between people or a system of government based in this belief in which power is either held by elected representatives or by the people themselves.

However Karl Popper defines it in a more convenient way to my opinion, for him it is the opportunities for people in controlling their leaders and ousts them without the need for revolution whereas Larry Diamond uses four key components to clearly roll out what democracy entails. He affirms the following,                                                                                                                                                                                                        

               .A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.                                   

               .Active participation of the people or citizens in politics and civic life.

               .Protection of the human rights of all citizens and lastly as a rule of law in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

It is from these great words of definition that forms the basis of comparison between the structures of governance in an authoritarian government versus the democratic ones. My comparison is going to be done in different angles . To start with authoritarianism regimes , there is reduced space for civil society , the press freedom and open dialogue narrows .Human rights defenders are either arrested illegally or jailed . The internet becomes a spying tool and this was confirmed by the reports all over the country some few months ago about the communication authority of Kenya spying on peoples phones is not something that Kenyans  should take lightly .

Multilateral institutions that champions and defends the rights of a common ‘mwananchi’ such as KENYA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION are threatened to be close. My question then would be who then is expected to champion for the people when their rights and sovereignty under article 1 of the constitution is openly abused?

The ownership of power being done by only two individuals and where people appointed and are constrained by the constitution to politics defies the orders and serve their individual interests is a great characteristic of such regime where rights of people are not guaranteed in practice.

What Pharisees we have witnessed since the Moi era that is during the early 1980s to 1990s and what we are currently witnessing is exactly what qualifies the state to be heading in that direction. The people of Kenya fought for freedom from the colonialism and the dictates of autocracy, liberal imperialism only to land in ‘africanization’ and brutal leadership from fellow brothers who with immense greed have not care about democracy.

This in my view signals the biblical stories during the exodus where the Israelites who were removed from Egypt , during their hard times in the wilderness thought that Egypt was  a better place than were they were headed to. The holders of instruments of power have taken the hypocritical mode and satisfy their personal interests. The ability of their service adds nothing to the discourse of Kenyans suffering and to my understanding this is an act of ‘Pretendocracy’.

A more definitive way is to call them  Pharisees of democracy, a regime that hides behind the constitution and brainwashes the people of Kenya by saying this “THE LAW IS CLEAR’’. How does the law become clear to our respected mothers and fathers who never had a privilege to receive education? And what is the moral obligation of the actors who sees the law to be clear vested in their own interest versus the justice demanded by Wanjiku?.

From this point having described what democracy entails, I would like to draw the line and bring to your attention that far is it to classify Kenya as a democratic country and at this particular time it is a fallacy to describe its maturity. Recent election times and trend in Kenya leaves me wondering whether democracy is mature or a myth in my mother land. Is authoritarian regime at its peak to replace democracy in Kenya? Anyway has Kenyans enjoyed the so called democracy? The current regime have permitted the opposition movements to contest elections but have stopped short of rotating power or allowing fair and credible elections that would have risked their secure tenure in office. How do we just celebrate over 50 years of African imperialism and continue to live as if nothing happened? our country has more than 40 tribes yet only two in 50 years? God forbid. Indeed, given the strong continuities of this period, it might be more accurate to call it a period of plebiscite like politics. To be more precise a country where only a few people vote, while the rest don’t.

 What worries me is this, during every election chaos precipitates and the recent election was not exempted, in fact it was far the worst ever carried elections ever in Kenya. When an election is conducted and annulled because of its processes then it means that the means justifies the ends and not our peculiar notion of the end justifying the means. The idea of numbers is a story that the current regime would wish to sing to their worthy opponents, it’s not bad to have numbers; even numbers must come when the process is credible. We should not forget that numbers can be manipulated at all cost.

During the previous purported election so many things happened. Why did the board of NGOs seems to be lenient to one side of political divide and smooth to the other, The truth must  be said no matter the cost,  it is unconstitutional to humiliate one side and embrace the other side when serving the so called ‘ democratic ‘ nation. If this is the case then it’s too sad, not that sadness only exist in the minds of those caught unawares but because the arms that are mandated forgets its roll and takes the roll of other people.  How do you handle a corrupt person when you yourself have already mingled with him/her? In Kenyan context what a right hand has given the left one takes it. I mean having a regime that borrow so money and robes the citizens a huge chunk and nothing happens is like placing a hot nail in an already wounded victim and expects the victim to be quiet .The reality is that this nation is not for few people who catwalks with the taxpayers money, it is for all of us ,

 

 

 

Having said so this is what my expectation for democracy was; that the government of the day be limited by the consent of the people, power be exercised by validly elected officials who are chosen through free, fair and credible ballot. If only two individuals will cling to power then you will see the formation of people’s assembly to bring back the sovereignty of the people. A democratic country allows election to offer choice of candidates with different ideas usually in a two multiparty system. I will not close my eyes to the shambolic party nominations which this nation is used to from the two political divide. It is not democracy to force the electorate with a choice they do not prefer no matter the gains that individuals give the party. This habit has been very common and the end result is having party noise makers at the parliament who are ready to defend it at all cost. This has locked so many young potential leaders who are viewed in terms of how heavy they are financially; can’t we just mature and move away from this disease? Do we really mean no bourgeoisie no democracy? {Moore 1996}. I also expected the government and all the people to be under the law and no one receives state protection when they are supposed to face the law.

Demonstrations in this country has been marred with a lot of confusion, some citizens still do not understand what it really means to demonstrate. It is not about carrying heavy stones and destroying other people’s property .They should understand that it should be carried as enshrined in the constitution, the right to picket and demonstrate not the right to terrorize others who are also suffering like they do ,they should know that democracy doesn’t mean spreading terror and that truth is hard to tell while propaganda is cheap, not forgetting the police service that has become partisan in their service today. Do they want to tell us that the slogan ‘’ UTUMISHI KWA WOTE “has changed? If so why don’t they tell us rather than keep baptizing themselves with that sweet name. Why do they protect other demonstrators who support the government of the day and punish the others who oppose the government of the day like thieves? Aren’t the police trained to handle such incidences? Beating citizens and using so much force that they should have used on terror groups leaves me with a lot of questions. It means in the near future we have to recruit people based on their academic merit not bribery, no wonder they were ranked the third last worldwide and still being praised.

The recent decision of the judiciary to annul the august 8th election was not only historical in the quest for justice but also marked an era where decision in the SCOK is independent. So many appraisals that followed the decision though some were not happy with it. The judicial democracy is that each judge was allowed to make personal decision and this ended with two judges giving dissented views something which is unusual in Kenyan history. Although some praised the decision, the others decided to wear themselves the gears of bad manners and called the judiciary funny names. How do you respect a decision you openly do not agree with? On the just concluded 26th fresh polls which many viewed as a charade, those who were not happy with the previous ruling vividly welcomed the recent unanimous decision by the six bench judges to uphold the election, why did they not go against it? The answer is that it favored them; favoritism politics that’s it.

 

The parliament of today has also turn to be defending the coalitions to which they come from and not as expected by the electorate, the ability to present and discuss issues of social development and improvement of standards of living. While they seem to be rooted in this mannerism of skeptic behavior, their counterparts are not left behind in the senate, instead of checking the bills before approving them, they in a hurry make them into law and affirms what was once said by Theodore Roosevelt that if a roll call was to be taken today in the senate, the senators would not know whether to answer, present or not guilty”.

Why pass laws that might be a mountain ahead of your now joyous ride?.We should not forget that standards have now risen up and every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. What we see from these honorable men and women who haven’t done anything honorable is total deception; in fact it is a public relation, what James Placard describes to be mere decency that flows from a good heart which in reality is a bad heart.

In my own opinion, leadership of deception isn’t leadership its fraud and when dealing with such types of leaders one should listen more to what they don’t say than what they do. A democratic parliament or even the senate would stand firm to defend the will of the people and not political interest. It means we are now trading in a dangerous zone where the majority in both houses can pass any bill they wish into law and selfish individuals will see no risk of extending their terms in office.

As I narrow to expressing my views on authoritarianism versus democracy, I would wish to explain and point out how our democracy is pinned by the influence of foreign nations who uses their foreign policies to dictate who becomes a leader in other countries. Just because they are more advanced in terms of technology and industrial capacity does not give them a chance to decide for us. In my opinion the Kenyan people should rise above such acute intentions to subvert the will of the people. How does a body such as the observer mission become lenient to one political divide and advises the opponent to concede defeat even before the election is concluded? Is this not malice? How then did they know that certain part of the political divide had already carried the day, yet their work was to observe and not the electoral body? Or do they want to tell the people of Kenya that the electoral body was not functional and so to them they had already identified the winner and the rest had no option rather than to accept what turned out to be a null and void election? This might appear normal to the perpetrators of a viable election but would not be viewed in the same manner with democratic electorate.

However it is also good to note that when selfish leaders who never got into office through a free and fair election and still holds to the instruments of power then the international body or democratic countries will have to restore order and make sure that justice is given to those who deserve it. Why say so? You and I understand very well that since our country was liberated from colonialist, the regimes that took over became so powerful that no court could order for them to be arrested even if they were guilty. Those who tried do so were arrested and some even murdered, it is from these fearful facts of the past that has shaken the independence of our institutions to do their mandates and instead rule or side with the oppressor.

This interplay of politics of international level at the expense of a common man should stop immediately. We should remember that the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad regime or people but the silence over that by the good people. How do we get to accept and move on when there is no judicial justice, no democracy, and no good leadership? What I have never understood is this concept of accept and move on. In my view, do we want to say that during unfair elections we become stagnated and hence should accept whatever outcome it is and move on? And move on to where? A more unjust country or find a way how justice can work for us?

There can be no way one will move on when their fellow brothers and sisters and gunned down and killed. Have we forgotten that hate can never come out of a man’s heart when justice has not been served?  Have we became a nation that values its economy more than its citizens own life? Let us just speak the truth, those who build the economy are the same people that are killed in a wanting manner, don’t we need labor to spearhead our industries?  Don’t we need skilled people to serve in our various institutions? I bet we do. The only problem we have as a country is failure to think not that we do not think but when we do so it’s a cheap thought. In this caliber rarely do we find men and women who willingly engage in hard , solid thinking. There is almost national and universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. In my view {Emmanuel et al 2017} this shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating and harassing more than the absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

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