Politicians are crying real tears on account of cash demands by ordinary Kenyans. Most MPs disappear from their offices around pay day to avoid the hundreds of people who turn up for their share of the salary.

They need to save as much of the cash as possible so that they can face their equally moneyed opponents at the next election. Many end up having to take heavy debts which they keep paying and reneweing until they default and end up in court or get a windfall arising from some important motion against a minister ready to pay to put away the matter.

Has it always been like that? Actually No!

The politicians changed how ordinary citizens looked at politics. They are all at fault for reversing the normal trend. During the independence struggle Kenyatta, Jaramogi etc went around collecting cash from Africans across the country. Money hidden in ash filled cans and buried was unburied and enthusiastically handed over to KANU and KADU for the 1963 elections. By 1966, KANU had reversed the whole thing and was now dishing out money to people to vote.

By 1969, it was clearly established that you needed money to win an election in Kenya. Those who had stuck to the idealism of the independence days lost heavily. Ministers and assistant ministers went to work to build war chests for the next election. Civil servants aiming to join the gravy train too went to work. Poaching started being a serious problem especially as trophies were freely sold in the country.

The 1974 elections were the most monetized elections ever. Bribery reached a new high. Silver shilling Coins were preferred. These would be cast in crowds one intended to vote for him or thrown close to a rally being held by an opponent to disrupt it as people ran to catch some free money. Fixed aircraft would be used for the first time.

1979 coming after the death of Kenyatta was a mixed bag. Money was dished out as expected. The five, ten and twenty shilling notes played a key role. The economy had grown and so had inflation. But candidates did not win because of money to the electorate. It was discovered that a friendly District Commissioner could single handedly “elect” an MP. So bribery was now directed at DCs, and the election officials. With few checks, some polling stations were set up in places where nobody turned up to vote and no officials appeared. These would however “produce” the winning ballots. The word of the new president could also make or unmake a political career.

The 1983 elections caught every politician unawares and a lot of cash was used to bribe voters.

However the most corrupt elections in Kenya remain the 1988 Queue voting elections. Then all it took was the district commissioner to “misread” the result and see of a political career.


Categories: Kenya

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