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Kenyan elections: A lesson to Zimbabwe opposition parties

23 Aug 2022 at 06:25hrs | Views
On August 9, Kenyans came out in their numbers to elect a man who will lead their country for the next five years.

Dr William Ruto was on August 15 declared as the President-elect by the country's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Dr Ruto, who beat his close contestant Raila Odinga, became the fifth Kenyan President since independence from British rule in 1963.

Kenyan elections drew interest from different countries that were eagerly waiting to see who would take over from the outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Zimbabweans also had keen interest in the Kenyan election, especially the opposition party members.

CCC leader Nelson Chamisa pre-maturely tweeted saying "Kenya is a sign".

The tweet was widely-viewed as a premature celebration of the supposed victory of their preferred candidate, Odinga.

The CCC leader and his supporters rallied behind Odinga whom they saw as their brother leading a sister opposition in Kenya.

That friendship was cemented by Odinga when he also attended the funeral of the late founding leader of the MDC now CCC, Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (MHSRIP), in Zimbabwe.

Such a gesture by Odinga made the CCC support him hence that "sign" tweet.

However, elections results did not go along with what Chamisa and company were looking forward to.

Their horse was defeated by Dr Ruto.

It is interesting that while the world was focusing on what the elections in Kenya would bring, Kenyans themselves waited patiently for five days for the presidential elections results to be announced.

Actually, Zimbabwean opposition political parties should take lessons on patience from the Kenyans.

The world did not witness any incidences of violence from Kenyan opposition members meant to force the IEBC to prematurely announce presidential elections results.

Kenyans as well did not use the openness to access results from different polling stations around the country to prematurely announce same.

The people in Kenya were aware that elections would be announced in due course once all the necessary procedures were put in place, hence there was no need to engage in unnecessary activities that would undermine the integrity of the poll results.

Kenyans did not engage in any form of violence, which was commendable in some way. Lessons should be learnt from the good behaviour.

However, in Zimbabwe, on August 1, 2018, the country lost six lives in Harare after violence broke out.

The violence was instigated by the opposition led by the MDC Alliance party members, who were led by Chamisa, who thought the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was taking long to announce presidential elections results.

The elections were held on 30 July 2018 and ZEC had only started counting the votes on 31 July 2018.

Coming up with results of the harmonised general elections within two days was an insurmountable task; hence the opposition activists should have understood that.

Supporters of the opposition party were needlessly led to engage in violence by their leaders in a bid to force ZEC to prematurely announce presidential election results.

In August 2018, Zimbabwean opposition activists were not patient like what the world witnessed in the recent Kenyan elections.

In two days, people like Tendai Biti, a lawyer by profession who should know better what the Electoral Act says, prematurely announced presidential electoral results which turned out to be false.

Biti announced that Chamisa had won elections against President Mnangagwa, which turned out to be untrue as on August 3, ZEC declared Mnangagwa as duly elected President of Zimbabwe, quashing speculations within the opposition parties that their candidate had won.

A major lesson that the opposition parties in Zimbabwe should learn from Kenyans is that no matter how long the election results take to be announced, they will eventually be officially out.

In Kenya, the electoral body IEBC took about six days to announce the presidential election results, but in Zimbabwe in 2018, the opposition expected ZEC to announce the results within two days.

Kenya's opposition activists did not prematurely announce presidential election results although they had all the information at their fingertips.

They did not go on to announce the results as they patiently waited for the rightful institution, the IEBC to do so.

This is in sharp contrast to August 31, 2018 in Zimbabwe when Biti, without even possessing all the information and figures about the results, prematurely announced presidential electoral results instead of waiting for ZEC to do so.

Such actions by Biti also triggered unnecessary confusion among the electorate, thereby causing people to think that elections were rigged when it was later announced by ZEC that President Mnangagwa had won.

Chamisa went on to challenge the results in the Constitutional Court, but lost as he had no evidence to support his allegations that elections were not free and fair.

As the country wait for the 2023 harmonised elections, it is necessary for all electoral stakeholders, especially the opposition political parties to take key lessons from Kenyan elections.

Zimbabwe cannot continue to loose lives whenever there are some general elections because few individuals feel they cannot wait for electoral results from ZEC.

People should learn that violence is not the only way to solve political problems, but negotiation can do.

Source - The Herald
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