Ezra Kigondu trains citizen reporters on indicators of election violence for the 2013 Kenyan election
On August 8, 2017 Kenya will hold its next election. This is after major violence before, during, and after Kenyan elections in 1992, 1997, and 2007. While the 2013 election was considerably more peaceful, there was substantial amounts of hate speech, tribal cleansing, intimidation, and fraud. The Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) and the Supreme Court ended the election with tarnished reputations – this hangs heavily over the coming election since it leaves in doubt whether the election will be fair and free.
The coming election will choose the president/deputy president, senators, women representatives to the senate, members of parliament, governors of the 47 counties, and local counselors and there is no doubt that it will be hard-fought both at the national and local levels.
In brief, the current government, with Uhuru Kenyatta (Kikuyu) as President and William Ruto (Kalenjin/Nandi) as deputy president, has formed the Jubilee Party to continue in office for another five years. The opposition is led by Raila Odinga (Luo), Musalia Mudavadi (Luhya/Maragoli and a Quaker), Moses Wetangula (Luhya/Bukusu), and Kalonzo Musyoka (Kamba). They are all from different political parties so the issue will be whether or not these four can unite. If they can, the election will be close. If not, the Uhuru/Ruto team will easily win. The problem with the opposition is that all four want to be “king” so once the flag bearer is decided all depends on whether the others will continue to work together.
Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) is already hard at work responding to election violence. In this Report, I will cover three of the areas – Mumias, Mt. Elgon, and Lugari/Turbo.
Mumias: In the past elections Mumias has been a stronghold for the opposition. If the Jubilee Party wants to secure a victory again the winner must have 50% of the total vote and Uhuru/Ruto received less than 5,000 votes more than 50% in the last election. So, to win, it must flip some opposition strongholds to its side. Mumias is one of those areas Jubilee is trying to flip. This means potential violence. Even though the election is still six months away, TCSC has already responded to two incidents of election violence in Mumias. Part of the response is to train people from Mumias as citizen reporters who are then connected to the call-in center so that they can report indicators of election violence for a response from the TCSC team. TCSC also plans on developing Watch-Dog teams who will be ready to respond to any potential or actual election violence that occurs.
Erastus Chesondi gives a peace message on Mt. Elgon before the 2013 election at the funeral of a m who was an assassinated; probably for political reasons.
Mt. Elgon: TCSC has been working in the Mt Elgon constituency since major violence occurred there between 2006 and 2008. Currently there are eight aspirants wanting to be elected as Members of Parliament. Some of the local politicians are already recruiting youth gangs to support their candidacies. In response, TCSC has conducted nineteen Alternatives to Violence (AVP) workshops for the youth whom elders in the community indicated were vulnerable to manipulation by politicians. Moreover, TCSC has trained and retrained 43 citizen reporters from the 2013 election. TCSC is determined to cover the whole constituency by the time of the election.
Lugari/Turbo: This is a concern to me because Gladys and I live in Lumakanda, the headquarters for Lugari District. The area was hard-hit in the 2007 post-election violence with, for example, half of Turbo town burned down and up to 20,000 internally displaced persons camped at the Turbo police station. Turbo District is also the home area of the Deputy President, William Ruto. The main Nairobi-Kampala road serves as a tribal dividing line with Luhya predominating on the Lugari side and the Nandi living on the Turbo side.
TCSC has already responded when two young men — in an area called Mautuma ten miles from my house — got into an argument as to whether Mudavadi or Wetangula was the leader of the Luhya. The mother of one of the young men killed the other youth with her hoe. This led to retaliation by the dead youth’s family who burned down the houses of the perpetrator. Of course this all led the community to be in an uproar. TCSC intervened to calm the situation and ended further violence and counter-retaliation. We have also just received news that a Kikuyu and Luo in the same area got into a fight over the election of the president (Uhuru versus Raila). We are currently assessing the situation and deciding the next steps.
These are not the only areas where TCSC plans on working. In total we plan on training 2,000 Citizen Reporters and Election Observers. We have already started to conduct civic education seminars to educate citizens of their rights and explain the new 2010 Kenyan Constitution. As this is the month for voter registration TCSC is currently going door to door to encourage/educate people to register. Closer to the election we will conduct voter education seminars to inform voters of the six positions up for election and their rights and responsibilities as voters and citizens.
Of course all of this requires resources. A two-day Citizen Reporter training costs about $200, a three-day AVP or HROC workshop for 20 participants costs $300, and a one-day civic or voter education seminar for 40 or more people costs around $100. The Call-in Center is no more than a laptop costing $450 (already bought) and it program, Frontline SMS, which is free since it is in the public domain. I would appreciate it if you would make a donation towards this work. If you do not need a tax-deduction, donations can be sent directly to TCSC in Kenya through WorldRemit for a charge of one US cent. See http://davidzarembka.com/2016/12/11/world-remit-details/ for details. Alternatively checks may be sent to “David Zarembka” with memo of “TCSC” and mailed to David Zarembka, 8 Midsummer Ct, Gaithersburg, MD 20878.
Thanks for your support. I am sure that my Reports from Kenya will keep you updated about the happenings before, during, and after the August 8 Kenyan electi0n.
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Please contribute to Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC). Donations can be sent directly to Kenya through WorldRemit for a charge of one US cent. See http://davidzarembka.com/2016/12/11/world-remit-details/ for details. Alternatively checks may be sent to “David Zarembka” with memo of “TCSC” and mailed to David Zarembka, 8 Midsummer Ct, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region.
Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC)
P.O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783 in US: 301/765-4098
Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com/