Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Trust, credibility and peace

The breathtaking breadth of the gulf of trust between the governing classes and the people -- not to forget get the huge chasm of trust among the members of the governing classes -- is starkly demonstrated by the reaction of a large swathe of the people to official pronouncements by representatives of the governing classes. A man trespasses on the Deputy President's heavily protected home. It is alleged that he s armed with a panga. It is alleged that he attacked an armed GSU officer and made away with the officer's assault rifle. It is alleged that the man held off the officer's colleagues for hours that it necessitated the deployment of an elite company of the elite GSU. It is alleged that the man was killed several hours after he trespassed on the property. Kenyans on Twitter, Kenya's actual forty-fourth tribe, thinks that whole story is full of it.

Around the same time, a high-ranking official of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is reported missing by his family. The news is broken on Twitter by the Commission. A member of the ruling alliance retweets a picture of the missing man's motor vehicle, alleging that he is not missing but in the company of a mistress at a home somewhere in Roysambu. His remains are discovered at the City Mortuary two days later. It is alleged that his remains display signs of torture. The victim was responsible for establishing a foolproof electronic electoral management system. It is alleged in some quarters that the victim was tortured in order to give access to the system to his attackers. The pronouncements about the fate of the victim are about as trusted as the email invitations by Nigeria princes to award one with millions of dollars if only one provided ones bank details.

The Commission, meanwhile, has reportedly asked its ballot-printers to print an "extra one percent" of the presidential ballots. Twitter mathematicians demonstrate that the Commission's mathematics is slightly off. The ruling alliance's cheering section -- which, in this case, is doubles up as the Commission's cheering section -- is at pains to demonstrate that in the last few weeks of intense brown-nosing that it has become quite expert at electoral process, from the manner in which ballots are printed, packed, palleted, transported, distributed and accounted for. A particularly saccharinely obsequious kiss-ass expends considerable amounts of time to debunk the misguided Kenyan twitter mathematics -- no doubt earning whatever fee he has been paid for his efforts. Needless to say, there are few neutral observers who believe that the whole "one percent more" scenario is to be trusted.

Meanwhile, there is a raging debate between the peaceprenuers, an online horde that wants peaceful elections at all costs even if it means allowing the securocracy to spy on our communications or the preventive detention of known trouble-makers, and a cohort that demands credible elections because, to their minds, credible elections are inherently peaceful. Neither side is going to win this argument; already, thousands of Kenyans have "made arrangements" to move their families and what property they can out of "hostile zones" until the general election has been held. No amount of peace-preaching has persuaded them to let things be.

Kenyans are inured to the entreaties of the professional political classes, the permanent civil service, the guns-for-hire preaching peaceful elections and credible elections, the media companies that package the news that Kenyans receive from sexy political neophytes or the constitutional civil service that almost always seems in it for the money -- and a chance at the holy grail of elective office. Kenyans are making decisions without recourse to advise from the aforementioned worthies. Trust, the bedrock of any functional system, is in short supply. It will be for a very long time to come.

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