Kenya’s Presidential Election Turmoil

Facts and figures regarding the situation in Kenya are fairly representative of African countries who are suffering under the yoke of neo-liberalism. Executive presidential political systems dominate, with ruling parties and their imperialist backers keeping millions of African workers and peasants in perpetual economic bondage and political repression. Such was the case again with the August and late October presidential elections held in Kenya.  Political contestation between the two mainstream parties, the Jubilee Party (led by Uhuru Kenyatta) and the National Super Alliance (NASA), led by Raila Odinga, saw fierce battles inside and outside of the corridors of power playing themselves out.

 According to a UNICEF report (http//www.unicef.org/kenya/overview) the top 10% of Kenyans earn 44% of the national income while the bottom 10% earns less than 1%. According to latest government figures 46% of the population live in poverty. Unemployment stands at 40% while 70% of jobless people are aged between 15 and 35. Figures from another study conducted by a Nairobi based research and communications company called Well Told Story reveals that there was an increase from 49% to 63% (2016 – 2017) in youth respondents who say that they do not have money to cover basic needs.

According to World Bank figures, Kenya experienced a 5.9% economic growth rate in 2016, which was a five year high. The contradiction here is crystal clear: the much touted high economic growth rates desired by ruling elites, translate into economic benefit for a few, not the poor majority. The new post – 2010 constitution introduced a system whereby 15% of the national budget is shared amongst 47 counties.  These are devolved political units established for the purpose of mediating potential ethnic/tribal conflicts. They came about due to the perennial ethnic/tribal based political conflicts that have bedevilled Kenyan politics since independence in 1963. The deliberate and conscious perpetuation of the British colonial and neo-colonial divide and rule strategies by certain Kenyan political leaders has to be roundly condemned. We only have to remind ourselves of the mass 1994 Rwanda and 2007/8 Kenyan political killings (see Waki Report, October 2008) to appreciate the toxic politics these so-called leaders practice. These reactionaries today form part of elaborate national and international patronage networks; networks buttressed by UK and US imperialist interests. Together they represent the custodians of capitalist-barbarism who have no scruples to commit crimes against humanity under the guise of false political narratives.

Such then was the political climate that prevailed at the time of the August and late October 2017 presidential elections. The Jubilee government led by Uhuru Kenyatta used a deliberate system of the manipulation of electoral processes to secure an “election victory”. In this instance however, the transgressors were brought to order by the Kenyan Supreme Court who nullified the election result. The incumbent then won the rerun election with a 98% voter share of a 38% election turnout. Clearly many of the “irregularities and illegalities” that accompanied the August election and the legal complexities they imply, still remain to be addressed and resolved. The final official result will also do little to resolve the insecurities, land disputes and grievances than Kenyan workers and peasants face. For many it has become clear that the Kenyan example points to  continental crises in which political opportunists use religion, so-called  racial identities, gender, regionalism, constitutionality  and other criteria to rally people in the name of reactionary, backward political agendas.  This they do because the capitalist-imperialist system they defend is incapable of offering any progressive electoral alternatives.

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