In Summary

  • From the 1960s through to the 1980s when the government – a highly interested party – played the referee in General Elections.
  • At independence election malpractices were characterised by simple, plain and less intelligent tricks executed mainly by use of force.
  • The idea of assigning a ballot box for each candidate indeed facilitated easy poll rigging in the 1960s through to 1970s.
  • In most cases, candidates destroyed or tossed opponents’ ballot boxes out of the counting halls, with some literally fleeing with them upon sensing defeat.

From the 1960s through to the 1980s when the government – a highly interested party – played the referee in General Elections to today where the exercise is executed by an independent legal entity, Kenya has come a long way in reforming the electoral process.

But the more the process has been made fair and transparent, the more politicians and their agents have come up with ingenious and sophisticated avenues of poll rigging.

If, for instance, the claim by the opposition and civil society that the electoral body’s database was hacked and manipulated to generate favourable results to certain candidates is true, then poll theft has surely gone high-tech.

At independence, for instance, election malpractices were characterised by simple, plain and less intelligent tricks executed mainly by use of force.

The instance of retired President Mwai Kibaki versus one Jael Mbogo, who kicked off her political career in 1958 in the pre-independence era as councillor of the then Native Eastlands ward in Nairobi’s Bahati estate, is one such prominent case.

Coming up in the 1969 contest against the then Finance and Economics minister in the President Jomo Kenyatta administration, Mbogo was viewed as the underdog in the Bahati constituency poll.

MWAI KIBAKI

However she took a surprise lead during the vote-counting only for the Kibaki agents to switch off lights in the counting hall and execute the plot that absolutely changed the poll outcome.

Then each candidate was assigned a ballot box with his or her picture on it and Ms Mbogo claims, in an earlier interview with this writer, that some of her ballot boxes were sneaked out of the counting hall and burnt.

Kibaki survived the scare with an advantage of 111 votes and switched his base to his rural home in Othaya, Nyeri, thereafter. 

The idea of assigning a ballot box for each candidate indeed facilitated easy poll rigging in the 1960s through to 1970s.

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