Wednesday December 06, 2017

By : Mark Bichachi

Why we need to have a referee in our bruising political contests


Why we need to have a referee in our bruising political contests

Any contest in the world needs an umpire. For the simple reason that you can’t box and count at the same time. You can’t be focused on the ball and realise when your opponent changes his players with a twin brother. You also need someone who can look at issues without personal investment.

This is the nature of human beings from the time we were children. Disputes were resolved by our parents and most importantly their decision was final. It is this submission to a referee that makes society work. It is what is called the rule of law. The law works because we submit to it and even its mistakes are final.

I recently had a debate with an American about the way they gerrymander their electoral districts to give advantage to their candidates. They intentionally carve out districts in such a way to remove blacks, Hispanics and other minorities from the district so that republicans can have an advantage. It is simply wrong to do so. However, it is a rule both democrats and republicans have agreed to. As such they submit to the rules until such time as the rules are changed.

Final word

It is this ideology that keeps democracy working. When we all agree that the referee’s judgement is final. In fact, let me make reference to one Diego Maradona, who in a world cup match scored a goal using his hand. Now we all know it was not a handball match and we all know the goal was erroneously counted as a goal for Argentina. It was a goal and still is a goal because that is how the law works, despite misgivings.

President Uhuru Kenyatta realised this truth when his election was annulled in September. There was no appeal he could make, no alternative path he could take, because he like all of us have submitted to the referee and he had to respect that choice. His arguments that it was a ruling based on technicality was like whistling in the wind. The referee had ruled, and his goal was cancelled; and based on the rules of the game, the referee's decision is final.

Just as Uhuru submitted to that ruling so must NASA. Not because they agree but because like most of us, when our mothers made a choice between siblings we had to accept it. You could cry all night but your mothers word was law and that law was implemented to the letter. This view on the rule of law must be how we view our nation. We must agree that we have trusted our state to referees and as such their decisions are binding to all.


The alternative is a scary scenario. And it is one we must all reject with vehemence. The alternative is crazy football. Where a kick to the sidelines is a goal. Where the opponent can pick up the goal post and hide it. This is a fun game to play as a team building exercise but it is a terrible and horrific game to play as a nation; a game where a competitor decides whether a goal is a goal is a recipe for disaster. It is playing with infinite matches with the potential of lighting infinite fires.

If we are to move on then we must all agree that the Supreme Court was right in annulling the August 8 presidential election and it was right in upholding the October 26 election. There can be no other debate about it because the rules say the referee’s decision is final. And final it is. The proverbial fat lady has sung, our only recourse is to find out how to live and work within the decisions.

Therein lies the answer for the disgruntlement in NASA. Instead of proposing, we ignore rulings and the validity of them. Let us do the right thing; let us find out how we can use the law to attain what we want. And those avenues abound for NASA. They abound in the courts of law where they successfully changed the role of the IEBC chair in as far as tallying of results are concerned. They abound in Parliament where without their participation certain processes stall.

More markedly the opportunity abounds in NASA led county governments, if NASA can out-perform Jubilee in improving the lives of the citizens of these counties, then they can rest very sure that they will win in 2022.

If today NASA focused its significant strength in ensuring as a rule all NASA counties are corruption-free, efficient and economic innovators they will have executed a coup in the minds and hearts of the Kenyans.

Mr Bichachi is a Communication

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