Report of the Independent Review Commission

For years, Kenyans have complained that government-appointed commissions produce reports that are never read or, if read, never followed.

The Kriegler Report has changed all this. But not quite how we might have imagined.

In one of those magical acts of reading, mis-reading, un-reading, and re-reading, the Kriegler Report has been appropriated by all sections of society, shamelessly.

Politicians from this side are saying no one won, which seems to mean that everyone won—or at least all will retain their seats. Politicians from that side are demanding apologies, not because they didn’t cheat, but because everyone cheated.

Hurrah! We are all cheats!

Though we should know better, we members of civil society continue to begin our sentences with “as a supporter of PNU/ODM, I knew x.”

1.2 million dead people might have voted, or at least remain in voter registries. (In one of those absurd Kenyan moments, perhaps we can legitimately blame the dead.)

Here is what the Kriegler Report says, in short, in clear letters, in the most precise manner: we are a failed democracy.

We are a failed democracy because we do not believe in and do not uphold citizens’ rights to elect their own leaders. We are a failed democracy because we do not believe in democratic elections.

This report is leveling.

And had we the self-consciousness to reflect on what it actually says instead of using it to justify ourselves, we might be more quiet, more hesitant to speak, less eager to point fingers and ask for apologies or reparations.

If, as the Report suggests, ECK failed in its duties, we also have to acknowledge that we failed in ours. And all the stories about what we knew, when we knew it, and how we knew it are nothing more than useless anecdotes at this point, because we allowed them to be, because we did not value democratic process enough to transform those anecdotes into part of a democratic process. Because we allowed self-appointed leaders to buy and bully their way into power.

Toward the end of Wizard of the Crow, the president, stricken by a strange malady that causes him to expand, farts. He farts long and loud and deflates in the process.

I take these two observations from the report to be part of a long fart:

  • The conduct of the 2007 elections was so materially defective that it is impossible for [The Commission] or anyone else to establish true or reliable results for the presidential and parliamentary elections.
  • [A]though there is room for honest disagreement as to whether there was rigging of the presidential results announced by the ECK, the answer is irrelevant, as (i) the process was undetectably perverted at the polling stage, and (ii) the recorded and reported results are so inaccurate as to render any reasonably accurate, reliable and convincing conclusions
    impossible.

Kenya lost. And we helped.

Kenya is still losing and our politicians are still helping.