KENYA: Elections 2017
KENYA ELECTION 2017: Conferring the right to steal?
Across the world, elections are moments of potential renewal of the human capacity of leadership and a stress test for all the institutions that are meant to act as checks and balances on power. Ultimately, elections are just one part of the overall system of rules, norms and traditions of governance whose primary aim is to solve society’s social and economic problems via a self-renewing, self-correcting model of politics – democracy.
In Kenya, the sixth cycle of multiparty elections culminates on August 8th 2017. The chaotic ferocity with which the NASA coalition and Jubilee Party nominations were contested, and the high attrition rate of candidates closely associated with incumbent presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his primary competitor Raila Odinga, point to a population heavily invested in the polls. Institutional failures, fraud and violence experienced in past elections seem to have barely dented public faith in elections as the best, though messy, route to political, social and economic change.
But have elections really synonymous with democracy? Have they resulted in the improvement of the lives of the majority in the developing world? Why are they many times associated with violence?
In this edition, The Elephant focuses on these critical questions. We look at the broader role of elections in a democracy and the politics of elections in the African and Kenyan context in particular and explore the extent to which elections in Africa have brought meaningful change in people’s lives. We also examine the role of elections in legitimizing theft of public resources and the consolidation of power as well as explore alternative, perhaps more democratic means of selecting rulers and representatives.
UGANDA SPECIAL: Nation at Crossroads
Thirty one years since General Yoweri Museveni’s National Resisitance Army marched into Kampala and brought an end to over a decade of chaos, Uganda has stabilised into one of the most powerful countries in East Africa and Horn of the continent. Still, one of the world’s youngest populations is faced with major challenges. The Elephant examines some of them.
Terror, Trump and normalised absurdities challenging security in the region.
Kenya faces a number of serious security challenges.
Some, like the conflicts over land driven by unresolved historical injustices and more recent dubious land acquisitions by the political elite, have been long in the making and date back to the early days of our colonial experience. Others like the threat posed by the Al Shabaab terror group, were bubbling under the surface for a lesser period and have burst out into the open fairly recently. The winds of change that have swept through the capitals of our traditional security partners in the West today pose challenges that will affect our region for decades to come.
How we react and respond to these issues will determine whether we can realise the dream of both personal and collective security. The state will be central to this endeavour but is also, paradoxically, a threat to the populace it governs – many more Kenyans are killed by the police than are murdered by Al Shabaab.
Can we reconcile this apparent contradiction between national and personal security? How do we harness our collective resources to counter both domestic and external sources of insecurity without undermining the individual freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution? What lessons can we take from history and from experiences in other parts of the world?
In this edition, The Elephant examines the issues driving the conflict over land and environmental resources in Laikipia County and compares them to the situation in the Scottish Highlands. We also look at the myths surrounding the war on terror in the region, the effect the fateful decision to send troops to Somalia has had on Kenya, the challenges posed to the country and the region by the election of Donald Trump in the US, the issues surrounding extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Kenyan state and the progress made in the effort to reform the National Police Service.
BLOW: How the war on drugs has been a systematic failure of policy and political imagination.
There is a growing consensus that the current prohibitionist approach to drugs has not produced the intended outcomes. In terms of value, the global trade in illicit drugs is only surpassed by oil and arms and generates billions for some of the most unsavoury and violent people on the planet.
Despite all the resources that have been expended in trying to eradicate them, drugs have become cheaper, more available and more people are using them than ever before. At the same time, the war on drugs has wreaked untold misery on countries and populations across the planet.
Clearly, something needs to change. We need to move away from the hysteria, racism and cynical politics that have characterized the current one-size-fits-all approach and towards better informed, evidence-based policies.
In this edition, The Elephant takes a look at the inner workings of the heroin trade in Kenya and examines the country’s growing importance as a transit hub for narcotics. We challenge the notion that the region is on the brink of a major drugs epidemic and also reveal the history of regulation of licit drugs like alcohol and khat (miraa) in Kenya. Finally, we discuss why the war on drugs has failed and look at the alternatives to prohibition being tried out in countries around the world.
Wizi na Uporaji (Corruption)
THE UNWINNABLE WAR: How the myth of ‘institutions’ has hobbled the fight against graft and wasted precious time and money. Read edition