It is the second semester of the academic year. Those in the know add a ‘point two’ to their current academic year of study. The period when all public varsities hold their elections, in which students choose their leaders who will hopefully hold office for a whole year. I say hopefully because things happen in life, better still, life does happen. Students now seem to have settled with the change of the voting system from the popular vote by all comrades to that of electoral colleges. Those seeking offices have also accepted reality that they will not be voted in literally by their supports. A few voters, delegates, will go to the ballot to cast votes that will determine the fate of many vis-a-vis campus politics. Time is fast ticking forward and soon this thing shall be done. But before then, many things will come into play; to seek to influence the outcome. In this edition, I zoom in to the whole process and unmask the whole process. Read on!
Just last year, the cabinet secretary for interior and government coordination, Dr. Matiang’i, ordered the arrest of the form four students who had been caught in a video abusing and hurling insults at Dr. Matiang’i and Ambassador Amina Mohammed. The young boys were apparently ‘mocking’ the two for failing to beat them in the game of exam cheating- because they ‘cheated’, or so they claimed. What followed after their arrest was a mass public outrage criticising the government for incarcerating ‘innocent’ youngsters who only copy-pasted what the national leaders, politicians especially, do in almost a daily basis. The boys were later set free.
However, what the former Ambira High School students did reflected the reality in the ground. Youngsters borrow heavily from what their leaders do. To be more specific now, the campus election processes has been tailored after the similarity of that of the national politics. Nominations are being held. Others are given direct tickets. Brokers or the so called cartels are reaping big in varsities. Tribalism is alive and well, and it is a major factor in the whole process. Who is influencing who, and what is exactly happening?
Technical University of Mombasa is a point in case. Nyang Polo is a third year student, and a presidential aspirant in the forthcoming elections. He paints me a picture of what is in the play, the behind the scenes developments. He laments the fact that tribalism has eaten so much to the students minds that even unity amongst comrades is so scanty. A university really has almost people from all walks of life. To say the least, it has students from at least every region of the country. However, tribalism has been a major setback even in situations where unity of all was necessary.
“You can remember last year’s strikes,” he starts, talking of the two consecutive strikes that happened in TUM in a week. “Some comrades refused to cooperate because to them, it was a tribal thing. They felt that their people in office were being targeted for no good reason. But that was not true. Comrades’ welfare was our central point,” he adds.
“I even remember when we were summoned by the university administration over the strike,” he continues, “One of the school administrators profiled us as trouble makers from one tribe, who were out to cause chaos.”
This issue of students being divided into tribes will be play a major role in the elections that are due, because even as at now, it is so much engrained in students. It is now clear that even the crème de la crème of the country have been brainwashed to think that having their own in the high place is the thing to do and to embrace.
Various communities are in a run to hold community nominations so as to front one candidate for a post. This idea of conducting community nominations is meant to solidify the tribe thing, by increasing the chances of a community clinging a seat. If you wonder how, know you today that aspirants and communities are in a hurry to strike alliances with other communities, to make their preferred candidates win it all through. That means that even with the electoral colleges being the vehicle to the desired offices, therein lies a V-8 kind of engine called ‘Our People’. The communities will form coalitions amongst themselves and field delegates who will push their agenda and make it a reality. Thus, at the end of the day, we end up having a ‘NASA’ or ‘JUBILEE’ replica in our academic citadels.
If you thought that bribes in elections are a reserve of the rich candidates in the national and county elections, you got it wrong. In our universities, corruption and various integrity-questionable behaviour are alive and well. some individuals, otherwise called brokers or cartels, are hiding under the post ’community chairperson’ to propagate this agenda, for self gain of course.
Of them, polo Nyang speaks, “They go to various aspirants and ask them how much they have. Those with deep pockets dig deep and part away with a good sum of money, so that they can be favoured in the community nominations and possible endorsement. Thus, you will hear of direct tickets or free tickets given to some candidates, but in reality it is bribes at play.” These very people go around collecting cash from other candidates for favours in campaigns and endorsement. Thus, at the end of it all, the poor comrades-cum candidates will be somewhat ruled out, unless they find favour among fellow comrades, delegates in particular, or with destiny.
With less than two months remaining to the end of semester, that means a less amount of time remaineth for elections to be conducted. Unto all comrades who will be involved in one way or another in the election process, make the exercise worthy. The leaders that you will elect are the ones to link you with the administration and air out what you cannot tell the VC for example, as an individual. So choose well. To all candidates, I wish you well.