In political parlance, an expression “tyranny of the majority” is used to describe a system of democracy in which a majority rules such that the decisions made by the majority place its interests so far above those of an individual or minority group as to constitute active oppression, comparable to that of tyrants and despots.
In many cases, a disliked ethnic, religious or racial group is deliberately and systemically disenfranchised or routinely penalized by the majority element acting through the democratic process to the point of rendering useless or inapplicable the rights of those so discriminated against.
The concepts of separation of power and checks and balance, in which there is clear demarcation of powers exercised by the executive, judiciary and legislative branches of the government were introduced in democratic systems to prevent the tyranny of the majority with at least two branches of government able check and balance the powers exercised by the other.
Even in legislative bodies themselves, quorum rules and the number of votes required to move a bill from committee or to pass it in the legislative process have in many democracies been changed to require super-majorities for the sake of protecting the interests of the minorities.
Such requirements have, for example, in the case of the United States created a perfect recipe for government gridlock as a single Senator can bring to halt an entire legislative process by “filibustering” the process, meaning endlessly talking on the floor thereby preventing even a vote to take place.
The drafters of our Constitution must obviously have had these concepts in mind when requiring that in order to be sworn as president, our next president must garner 50%+1 of the votes cast in addition to carrying at least 25% of the vote in at least 24 of the 47 counties.
Given the dynamics of Kenyan politics which basically evolve around tribalism and ethnicity for how far down the road we can see, this requirement basically ensures for all practical purposes that we shall likely have an run-off to produce a winner who can be sworn as president.
The constitution envisions a run-off, if there is one, to be between the top two vote garners and the winner of the majority of votes in that run-off wins the presidency and is sworn accordingly.
While there were other solutions the drafters could have adopted in the Constitution to deal with this issue of the tyranny of the majority, this is what we have for now and unless modified in the future, it’s what we have to contend with and that’s fine.
There is, however, emerging in Kenya another tyranny either the drafters never seriously contemplated or simply didn’t think about and this is the tyranny of the hypocrite, which I define to be an individual purporting to exercise democracy for the good of others while, in fact, it’s for their own selfish gain as opposed to the despot who doesn’t even pretend to act for the good of others other than for self.
This type of tyranny of hypocrites unless checked may become worse for our country and undo all the progress we may have made thus far than the tyranny of despots we have lived through the decades through at least the end of the Moi era.
Soon after the charges of crimes against humanity were confirmed against Uhuru, Ruto, Sang and Muthaura, we saw what was rightly condemned as invidious and divisive—the so called “prayer rallies” in which individuals purporting to exercise individual rights of freedom to speak, associate or seek office were, in fact, acting in nothing but an attempt to plant seeds of discord.
Thankfully and for reasons not necessary to get into here, these dangerous and reckless rallies ceased and the architects went back into the drawing board for other tactics to employ against their target, and the one man who keeps them awake 24/7 plotting against and that is one Raila Amolo Odinga.
On the Internet, Kenyans with new-found freedom of expression have taken the concept to levels unimagined before promulgation of the Constitution such that our leaders, especially the Prime Minister is subjected to levels of insults and accusations that are simply wrong and unacceptable in any civilized society that has any respect for its leaders and institutions.
Unprintable insults and all manner of defamation are staples in many of these fora–with the culprits usually being cowards hiding behind fake names to hurl the insults and defamation in the false belief they cannot be known or found.
How naive for they can be; very easily, indeed, were one determined to find out who they are.
And now comes abuse of the judicial system by a handful of activists in the name of exercising rights conferred by the Constitution.
It was reported in one of the local dailies today that several of these activists have filed petitions seeking to bar Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and the MP for Sabatia, Musalia Mudavadi from seeking the presidency on various flimsy grounds—at least with respect to elections law.
It is the responsibility of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to determine who is or is not eligible to vie for public office under the law.
If and when such determinations are made, those aggrieved or anyone who disagrees with the determinations may file appropriate petitions before the courts to challenge such determinations.
In other words, a petition can only be ripe for litigation in court if and only when the IEBC declares someone as qualified or not qualified and thus the reason I have always maintained the petitions seeking to ban Uhuru and Ruto from vying for public office, including the presidency are premature and must be dismissed on that ground–unless the court takes it upon itself to address them for the sake of avoiding confusion and division in the country.
To run to court and attempt to block or deny anyone their right to seek office even before they officially declare their candidacy or before the IEBC has had its say in such candidature is not only idiotic and a waste of judicial time and resources, it fundamentally shows a lack of understanding of what these new rights under the Constitution really are or mean.
Having an independent and reformed judiciary and enjoying the rights under the Constitution is not a license for individuals to run amok and abuse the very systems we are trying to reform in the manner we are beginning to witness for the tyranny of these hypocrites is equal to or worse than the tyranny of the tyrants and despots we have gallantly fought for decades to free ourselves from.
Someone should accordingly and sternly so advise these few misguided elements who are obviously acting in their own self-interest and not in the public interest they think they can otherwise fool others to believe.
That should start from the Constitutional Court judges who should dismiss these frivolous cases and make the point the courtrooms and our judicial system are not open to abuse with these types of nonsensical, frivolous and factually and legally baseless petitions.
To do otherwise is to invite chaos back into a place we are trying to and have thus far succeeded in creating some order.