Kenya dispatch: Supreme Court election ruling in favor of Ruto has made some Kenyans lose faith in the judiciary Dispatches
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Kenya dispatch: Supreme Court election ruling in favor of Ruto has made some Kenyans lose faith in the judiciary

Aynsley Genga is a JURIST Staff Correspondent in Kenya. She reports from Nairobi.  

Monday September 5 was the day the Kenya Supreme Court delivered its final verdict on the presidential election petition. Or maybe, as others have said, it was the day Kenya officially lost its democracy. It was the day the judges declared William Ruto the rightful president of Kenya. It was the day that Martha Koome, the Chief Justice, declared – very passionately, I might add – that the evidence provided by the petitioners challenging Ruto’s election was nothing but hot air and all they did was send the court on a wild goose chase. Monday was the day most Kenyans did not even finish listening to her judgement especially after she declared that the election commission server had not been compromised despite being shown that indeed the names of Jose Camargo, one of a number of  Venezuelans arrested with election equipment, was on some of the electoral forms and that the tallies were incorrect in some of the electoral forms. The court went on to completely disregard all issues that they themselves had established and stated that no evidence provided was satisfactory.

Despite the judges time and time again asking Wafula Chebukati, one of the respondents and the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson, to explain why he announced the results and yet his fellow commissioners had not verified and tallied the results, they still went ahead and stated in their verdict that all the commissioners had verified and tallied the results and thus would not nullify the elections on that basis. “Are we to nullify an election on account of a last-minute board rapture between the chairperson and some of his members?” Martha Koome asked. “… How can we upset an election in which the people participated in?” the Chief Justice further wondered. My question is: if the people are as important as the Chief Justice claims, then why was the issue of the unaccounted-for 27 constituencies never truly addressed? Are the voices of these people not important? People went out to vote in those 27 constituencies and yet in the end their votes, their voice and their democratic right was completely disregarded. Nobody will ever know whom those citizens ever wanted as their leader and yet we call our country a leading democratic nation in Africa.

Kenyans love talking on social media and with the recent Supreme Court verdict, discussions definitely took place online. Something that really surprised me, angered me and truly broke my heart on social media was the fact that there were UDA supporters (i.e. William Ruto’s supporters) who went online and proudly stated that William Ruto, the son of a nobody, has proven that power is taken not given. The supporters did not stop there: they went on to state that there is no trophy for being good or holding high integrity grounds when seeking power. We even had some Azimio supporters (i.e. Raila Odinga’s supporters) who were wishing that Raila had played dirty as well. My first thought when I saw these comments was: when did Kenya’s democracy fall this low? When did it reach such a horrible state that people truly believe that power is taken by force? When did my fellow countrymen stop believing in the true meaning of democracy?

The recent Supreme Court judgement has made many people lose faith in the Judiciary. I cannot really blame them. After all, when I listened to the judgement all I could think was that the Judiciary in Kenya is dead. I felt that the true meaning of our laws was completely disregarded on that fateful Monday and I felt so much pain considering how much I looked up to those judges. The judges were meant to be our shield and defender, and yet they only made many citizens lose the respect they had for the Judiciary.

Additionally, something that has broken the hearts of many in Kenya is how a few people from the tribes of Agikuyu and Kalenjin are stating that they are the “chosen tribes” and they are the only ones who deserve to be in power. The verdict in the presidential petition case gave such people the courage to arrogantly state this despite the fact that Kenya is made up of more than 40 tribes. They siad what they said with little disregard for their fellow countrymen and yet we are supposed to be one nation, one voice. We all go through the same economic hardships, we all bleed the same, and we all sing the same national anthem that is meant to signify our unity, and yet people are bold enough to make such remarks. I am not saying all the people from these tribes share this kind of mindset since I interact with them on a daily basis and I know for a fact that not all think like this, but the few who do think like this are more than enough to dishearten their fellow Kenyans. This makes some Kenyans wishing for a secession, for if they are not members of the ‘chosen tribes’ their voice will never matter. Others have stated they will never ever bother voting again since their vote is of little importance in the end. The voter turnout rate was already low in this general election. I can only imagine how much lower it will be if these are the thoughts plaguing citizens currently.

As it stands, president-elect William Ruto will be sworn in on 13th September 2022. All we can hope is that he will be a good leader and help solve the economic crisis facing the country. After all, this is a matter that affects everyone regardless of tribe and status.