Mmegi Online :: Lessons from Kenya
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Last Updated
Friday 22 March 2019, 13:01 pm.
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Lessons from Kenya

The Kenyan Supreme Court recently jolted the global view of African democracy and governance, by nullifying the results of the recent general election in that country and calling for a re-run.
By Mmegi Editor Fri 08 Sep 2017, 11:13 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Lessons from Kenya








The decision is the first time presidential elections in Africa have ever been nullified and even globally, the ruling is among a few similar decisions globally.  There are very sound reasons why such decisions are not common globally and particularly in Africa, a continent generally struggling with the institutionalisation of democracy and sound governance. Across Africa, ruling political parties often entrench themselves in power by subsuming or suppressing the other estates of government, broadly being the legislature, the judiciary and the press.

Of these estates, the legislature can be captured simply through majority and subsequent constitutional amendments, while the press can be equally muzzled through laws, intimidation, inundation with litigation, drowning out with state media among many means.  It is the judiciary that is the last line of defence for democracy and as a result, the first target of autocratic ruling elites.

The judges in Kenya displayed rare courage in standing up to the might of the ruling party, where similar challenges in other countries have fallen into the crevice created by judicial capture. One does not need to look far for such examples, as the opposition in Zimbabwe has repeatedly filed numerous legitimate electoral grievances against the ruling party, in vain over the years.

A school of thought exists that suggests the Kenyan judges’ bravery was emboldened by the fact that the opposition there commands such considerable support as to require

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a thorough examination of the arguments posed, in the interests of national stability. In other countries, the opposition is weak and fragmented, posing little motivation for captured judiciaries to examine their sometimes legitimate grievances. It is in this light that the Kenyan situation bears lessons for Botswana ahead of the 2019 poll. At present, the opposition, despite its ongoing crises, has generally coalesced into a formidable alternative to the ruling party.

In addition, the main grievances of Kenya’s opposition being the rigging of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), suggest similar complications for Botswana in 2019 when our own EVM will debut. It is highly conceivable, therefore, that the results of the 2019 general election, whether at local or national level, may wind up beyond the ambit of the Independent Electoral Commission and in the hands of the judiciary. Botswana will need the men and women of the judiciary to demonstrate their integrity and courage in interpreting electoral law and the applicable constitutional provisions in preserving the Republic’s democratic aspirations.

Botswana, unlike most of Africa, is renowned for its democracy, a system of governance built on institutions that include the judiciary. Thus far, the system has generally held strong and while we hail all the estates of government, we also urge them to redouble their commitment in 2019.

 

Today’s thought

“Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.

- Francis Bacon

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Editorial
Fri 08 Sep 2017, 11:13 am
Thu 07 Sep 2017, 11:04 am
Wed 06 Sep 2017, 11:19 am
Tue 05 Sep 2017, 11:49 am
Fri 01 Sep 2017, 11:18 am
Thu 31 Aug 2017, 11:19 am
Wed 30 Aug 2017, 11:04 am
Tue 29 Aug 2017, 11:04 am
Fri 25 Aug 2017, 11:01 am
Thu 24 Aug 2017, 11:50 am
Wed 23 Aug 2017, 11:25 am
Tue 22 Aug 2017, 11:42 am
Fri 18 Aug 2017, 11:40 am
Thu 17 Aug 2017, 09:12 am
Wed 16 Aug 2017, 11:19 am
Tue 15 Aug 2017, 11:31 am
Fri 11 Aug 2017, 11:15 am
Thu 10 Aug 2017, 11:29 am
Wed 09 Aug 2017, 11:52 am
Tue 08 Aug 2017, 11:21 am
Fri 04 Aug 2017, 11:49 am
Thu 03 Aug 2017, 11:27 am
Wed 02 Aug 2017, 11:35 am
Tue 01 Aug 2017, 11:05 am
Fri 28 Jul 2017, 11:34 am
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