NDUBI: Will the real Independents please stand up!


On August 8, Kenyans go to the ballot to choose their leaders for the next 5 years ...
On August 8, Kenyans go to the ballot to choose their leaders for the next 5 years from among over 15,000 candidates in various positions.

Will the real Independents please stand up?

I repeat, can the truly independent candidates really stand up?

We are definitely going to have a problem figuring out who they are in this election especially after the protest put up on Saturday following the justifiable labelling of ‘independents’ alliance’ as a losers’ assembly.

Kenyan politicians never cease to amaze with their unending stunts aimed at bolstering their waning relevance in the face of inevitable failure.

The Kenya Alliance of Independent Candidates (KAIC) formed largely by losers in the Jubilee primaries, is an outright insult to the intelligence of Kenyans and a mockery of the 2010 Constitution.

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Ideally, an independent candidate is a nonpartisan politician who is not affiliated with any political party. The most plausible reason for their ‘independence’ being they genuinely do not want to join a party either in rejection of the idea of parties altogether or seeing no fit with the existing parties but are not ready to form theirs –Katiba Institute.

Unfortunately, the crop of independents that we have, are those who desperately wanted to be party candidates but couldn’t make it. They were either overwhelmingly rejected by voters or were victims of political parties’ structural incompetency (as all claim).

And we might be quick to empathise with those who claim to have been rigged out and defend their right to run in the hope they are accorded a fair process by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which should culminate in a convincing win since they were the people’s ‘preferred choice’.

A persuasive argument, yes, save for the fact that those who were actually rigged out managed to pursue a court process that earned them back their hard-worn victory.

While they still reserve the right to run as independents and hopefully prove many wrong, they should do so without appearing to still be members of the political parties they claim to have denounced.

Chapter Seven of the 2010 Constitution defines a person eligible to stand as an independent candidate as one who is not a member of a registered political party and has not been a member for at least three months immediately before the date of the election –Article 85(a). In regard to the time frame before August 8, the pseudo-independents are safe.

In the event an independent is elected into office, the Constitution provides for their removal if they happen to join a political party – Article 103(1)(e)(ii).

In my view, the same applies as grounds for withdrawing the candidature of a seemingly independent politician who in many ways never left his party.
While the Constitution is silent as to what amounts to “joining” a political party, it is plausible to conclude that affiliation equals membership.

Two of the four independent members of the 11th Parliament; Kinoti Gatobu (Buuri) and Wesley Korir (Cherangany) immediately after election, became technically Jubilee party members grossly diminishing the role of non-affiliation.

Their decision, for purposes of expounding on the permeating mediocrity in present-day Kenyan leadership, is due to the fact that being an independent member is a tough grind. You do not have the solace of party policies to fall back to.

What is at stake in the event the pseudo-independents led by Kiambu Governor William Kabogo make it to the 12th Parliament is a shakedown of the tyranny.

They will straightway fall behind the Jubilee Party and boost their numbers and potentially gift it overwhelming dominance and with it, another 5 years of parliamentary circus and a cocktail of half-baked self-serving laws- this with the assumption Jubilee gets a shot at Parliamentary majority. The same applies for Nasa with the tables turned).

A substantial number of true independents in Parliament would be a blessing to Wanjiku as regards quality legislation and when it comes to it, bargaining for constituents in exchange for a vote supporting government bills.

With no credible statistics of unaffiliated voters in the country and these pseudo-leaders proving their nonexistence by insisting on supporting other parties’ presidential candidates to pacify voters, the independence tag needs to be shed.

In fact, there should be a deliberate attempt to call out the politicians for the impostors they are.

“We have endorsed them as President and Deputy President candidates for this country and we have said we will stand with them. And they should also stand with us,” said Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua who’s now defending his seat on an independent ticket after losing to Lee Kinyanjui in the Jubilee primaries pleads.

Actually, how about we all stand up and tell the real independents from the aggrieved losers clinging on to past, long-lost glory?

Get in touch with Eric on Twitter via @Eric_Ndubi

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