Leaders Voices with Mr. Kennedy Masime, Centre for Governance and Development

Mr. Kennedy Masime is the executive director of the Centre for Governance and Development and the national coordinator of the Nation Taxpayers Association. The Leaders of Africa Project represented by Michael Conteh and Peter Penar spoke to Masime in May 2017. The interview addresses Masime’s background in civil society, views on the functioning of civil society in Kenya, and thoughts on election observation and support in the lead up to the August 2017 elections. Although a video recording was produced, due to the low quality of the video recording, only the audio is included with accompanying images.

View the video here on YouTube and listen here to the audio on SoundCloud.

Interview key points [with time markers]:

  • Masime’s interest in civil society work began at university when options for policy-relevant work was limited since Kenya African National Union (KANU) was in power and “civil society was the only avenue.” [2:50]
  • “Multipartyism” in Kenya did not mean that multiparty democracy would thrive. [5:10]

Donor funding

  • Donor community supported civil society during the Moi era and diplomats were “hands on.” After the transition in 2002, donor funding began to change with financial support for both civil society and the government. [8:00]
  • The ICC intervention influenced the donor community, and this made donors reticent to engage the government and civil society: “the donors tried to isolate them [Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto]” with only “essential contact.” [10:50]
  • Funding for civil society in the governance and advocacy work has even gotten worse since 2013. [14:20]

Domestic election observation

  • From 1992 through 2007, domestic election observation was “ad hoc,” which raised problems for reporting, and observation was highly inconsistent. [17:30]
  • Things began to change at the time of the 2010 Constitutional referendum, with more consistent election observation. [21:20]
  • Focus on the entire election cycle has occurred, but there are many gaps in following up on reforms, such as the implementation of the new 2010 Constitution (e.g., election campaign finance reforms were not implemented). [22:50]

2017 election preparations

  • The present Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Kenya’s election commission, is not yet prepared for the 2017 election because of the “political stalemate” and there are laws that are not presently implemented due to a tight timeline (e.g., election commission’s involvement in party primaries). [26:05]
  • The opposition was not prepared for the 2013 elections, particularly in training and deploying party agents. The opposition should aim to improve this before the elections. [30:55]
  • In general, there was long-standing mistrust in the election commission and the judiciary with its pro-executive bias. This meant that political actors did not have faith in the ability of these institutions to mitigate election grievances. [33:50]
  • After the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, the right steps were taken to select a new election commission and Supreme Court before the 2013 elections. [35:40]
  • However, 2013 election petition process has “eroded” faith in the court, and trust is even lower going towards the 2017 election than it was before the 2013 election. [36:15]

Domestic election observation in the 2017 election

  • Parallel vote tabulations (PVTs) build confidence in election quality, and the Elections Observation Group (ELOG) is planning a PVT for the 2017 election. These assessments help tell us who has likely won the election, “particularly if the official processes collapse.” In some situations, “at least some data is needed.” [39:10]
  • Kenyan election observation has taken some steps back this time. Support for civil society has been slow to materialize, with not even a half of the resources given in comparison to the 2013 election. “We are only going to do the bear minimum” due to severe resource constraints. [43:20]
  • Election day processes are conducted fairly well in East Africa, but that does not mean the whole process is free and fair due to things that happen outside of election day. [45:00]
  • We should be focused on the election commission and the voters register to see that it is consolidated and audited. “KPMG has been contracted to audit the register.” There needs to be adequate security and procurement process as well. [46:15]

Remarks:

  1. The Leaders of Africa Project is independent and non-partisan. The unedited views expressed in Leaders Voices are not those expressed by the Leaders of Africa Project. All opinions and experiences expressed are solely that of the thought leader.
  2. Use of any of the information gained from the video or this post must be cited: Leaders of Africa Project. “Leaders Voices with Mr. Kennedy Masime.” Online video clip. www.leadersofafrica.org. Leaders of Africa Project, 16 May 2017.

About Mr. Kennedy Masime

  • Executive director of the Centre for Governance and Development and the national coordinator of the Nation Taxpayers Association
  • Former chairman of Elections Observation Group (ELOG) during Kenya’s 2013 elections
  • Interests in governance and advocacy

About the Author

  • The Leaders of Africa is an independent and non-partisan collaborative that shares the experiences of thought leaders, educates, and conducts research on leadership in Africa.

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