The ruling of Kenya’s Supreme Court, declaring the re-election of President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta during the August 8 presidential elections null and void continues to generate ripples across the globe. The reason however is not far-fetched, as this is the first time in Africa, that the judiciary will put aside an election after the election administrators had declared an incumbent winner. In her ruling, the Kenya’s Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice David Maraga, cited election irregularities and ordered a new poll be conducted within the next 60 days.
So intriguing was the ruling in a continent where political offices are held in perpetuity. As exemplified in the age long presidency of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Togo’s Eyadema, Eritrea’s Afwerki Isaias, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola, Paul Biya of Cameroon, the list continues. In some other climes, the situation is more clandestine as the elite continue to recycle themselves in office. This travesty is a tragedy that has left Africa backward and beggarly.
The Kenya’s election debacle, to the optimist can be described as a light in the dark tunnel. Heralding democracy in Africa requires an open system where the judiciary is uninfluenced and independent. The Continent –Africa- continues to suffer miserably from poor democratic institutions. Elections are usually mired in violence, with electoral umpires in collaboration with a dirty judiciary keen on frustrating the will of the people. In March 2013, Africa was identified as the world’s poorest continent, with about 19 of the 23 poorest country situated in Africa (Business Insider, 2015).
Having a poor and decrepit infrastructure, which according to the African Development Bank group, less than half of Africa’s rural population have access to an all season road. Unfortunate! With 53% of the roads unpaved, isolating people from basic education, health services, transport corridors, trade hubs, and economic opportunities. The fatality rate, results in 225,000 deaths every year, about one – fifth of total fatalities from road accidents worldwide.
For a prosperous continent, especially now that growth rate is rising, Africa must strengthen her democratic institutions. The imperative now should be to return governance to the people. With a continent, of 200 million middle aged people between 15 and 24, doubling by 2045 according to African Development Bank, a new class of young, energetic, innovative political office holders should be allowed to govern. As exemplified by Justin Trudeau of Canada, Emmanuel Macron of France; Young optimistic leaders with a drive to cause lasting changes in their country and the world. The Kenya’s election drama is a wakeup call for Africa on the need to challenge obsolete existing norms.
Written by Asotah Wisdom, News Editor at Core Magazine Africa.
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