'Kenya provides poll lessons for Zim'

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition and Judiciary must learn from the Kenyan election experience, where the courts nullified results that had declared Uhuru Kenyatta the winner ahead of National Super Alliance (Nasa)’s Raila Odinga, following objections.

Last Friday, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the August 8 presidential election won by Kenyatta, following a petition by Odinga.

The court then ordered the holding of fresh elections in the next 60 days, in a landmark ruling in that country and a precedent in African politics.

However, what is captivating in the Kenyan election story is that the political developments are just like a script plucked from the Zimbabwean book.

Looking at the characters, Kenyatta is like President Robert Mugabe, while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai represents Odinga, and by fate the two opposition leaders are close confidantes.

Only recently, Tsvangirai was in Kenya, where he met Odinga for a possible exchange of notes and ideas.

Zimbabwe and Kenya are congruent in many ways, when it comes to the political situation, where both Odinga and Tsvangirai have once complained about electoral fraud and violence that killed thousands of their supporters.

And as the script goes, without chances of missing a part, both have once been prime ministers of their respective countries following the formation of governments of national unity in the respective countries.

From these governments of national unity, Mugabe, just like Kenyatta emerged victorious in contested elections, with accusations of a compromised electoral commission and process.

Both countries are now using the biometric voter registration system, with Kenyatta reportedly manipulating the system through power of incumbency.

However, they may be separated by the stark differences in the autonomy of their Judiciary system, with many believing Zimbabwe’s is biased towards long-ruling Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

Respected political analyst, Eldred Masunungure, said the Kenyan election story is a big lesson to the Zimbabwean opposition, if ever it wants to contest the outcome of any election.

“I think the Judiciary was compelled by the weight of evidence that Odinga provided. The lesson to be learnt is that the opposition has to compile enough evidence, as much as possible, in the event that it would want to appeal against the outcome of an election.

“What tilted the scale in Odinga’s favour was the evidence that spoke for itself. You need strong, bullet proof evidence if you are to challenge the electoral body, like in our case the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec),” Masunungure said.

However, another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said instead, it is Zimbabwe’s Judiciary that has to learn from the Kenyan situation, if it is to stamp authority and gain autonomy.

“Without reading too much into it, it tells us of how a bold Judiciary can change the fate of countries and guard against the stealing of the people’s will through electoral fraud.  Zimbabwe’s judges have a lot to learn from that.

“The case is encouraging and sets a required precedent for electoral petitions.  I am not sure Zimbabwe’s judicial system will get to that stage soon, as most judges who sit on the bench are staunch Zanu PF members and supporters,” he said.

Zimbabwe is expected to conduct its elections in less than a year, with the opposition, just like in Kenya, forming a coalition that will battle it out with 93-year-old Mugabe.

There are, however, fears of yet another contested outcome that will take Zimbabwe the Kenya way, even though the outcome is unlikely to be the same.

Political commentator, Rashweat Mukundu said another lesson from the Kenya election is that despite the faith people bestow in the electronic voting system, it can be tempered with as well.

“Kenya shows that even electronic systems can be tempered with and we now wonder how prepared Zec is, dogged by controversy and lack of transparency. While Kenya has a courageous Judiciary, this may not necessarily be the case with Zimbabwe,” he said.

Meanwhile, the MDC, Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition political party, welcomed the development in Kenya, calling it historic and ground-breaking.

“We would like to applaud the Judiciary in Kenya for being bold and independent enough to come up with this kind of ruling in a very high profile and politically sensitive case. Many a time, here in Zimbabwe, the people have been denied the opportunity to freely and fairly choose a government of their choice.

“The people of Zimbabwe will remember that the 2002 MDC presidential election petition is still pending, more than 15 years after it was filed in the courts of law. This is a classic example of the bastardisation of the rule of law in Zimbabwe,” the MDC said.


Comments (3)

I do applaud what the Kenya Supreme Court?s ruling nullifying the August 8 presidential election results and order a re-run. The Judiciary have absolutely shown what they are made of - something which is lacking in our Zimbabwe?s Judiciary judgements - which to a large extent is biased to the ruling patty ZANU-PF. The Kenyan Supreme court has set an outstanding president for Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa. Kenyatta had been in power since time immemorial - just like Robert Mugabe clinging to power through hook and croak and this has resulted in the citizens suffering in both countries because of bad governance. Corruption is on the increase unabated in both countries. The move taken by the Kenya?s supreme court will bring about the people's will for the benefit of all the citizens and is also what we are looking for in Zimbabwe. We had situations where Zimbabwe?s opposition has been disadvantaged in a number of ways as we witnessed biased judiciary rulings in favour of the ruling party -ZANU-PF. For example we have had previous elections results going un announced for almost two months; opposition members of MDC-T members being victimised in various forms such as being arrested on trumped charges; allegedly not voting for ZANU-PF; being denied food,agricultural inputs distribution & at times forced to attend ZANU-PF rallies and many others. The police and Judiciary attitude in Zimbabwe should change and move away from being biased towards a ruling political party and act like what we have witnessed in Kenya recently. This can bring about democracy in Zimbabwe

Pythias Makonese - 4 September 2017

Raila, with Credible, Fair and Free election, will win Landslide with over 55% of Kenyan Votes in November God Willing.

Ibraheem - 4 September 2017

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geraldleubag - 5 September 2017

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