Kenya elections, Korea threats and Brexit double take

Tony Zakaria

DID you hear the latest from the Brits? Finally some whom I will call bold visionaries are coming out clearly with the message that Brexit was a mistake and there is still time to correct it.

The 52 per cent who voted to leave were a slim majority of those who bothered to cast their ballots a year ago. Such a momentous decision should have required a two-thirds majority, not 52 per cent. I think the 48 per cent who voted for Britain to stay in the EU knew what they wanted and why.

What has happened since that historical vote? The pound has been pounded by economic winds against the Rock of Gibraltor, losing its value against major world currencies such as the dollar and the euro.

Uncertainty about job and physical security has made non-British workers reluctant to apply for jobs in the UK. And some who were already employed by British firms have left.

There is a labour gap that not even Jeremy Corbin, the Labour leader, can fill. Multinational companies and banks have or are in the process of moving their offices or factories to mainland Europe.

They are doing their own exit from Britain. And the EU is adamant, there will be no concessions for the marriage partner who unilaterally filed for divorce. Instead the erring partner is expected to pay alimony, as much as £100 billion as separation costs.

James Chapman, the former chief of staff to the Brexit secretary, has been urging fellow Brits to form a new political party or movement to oppose Britain leaving the union with other European nations. Why? He says that exit is a catastrophe.

Call it ‘Brextrophic’. Who would have thought? Put the brakes on Brexit? That is a tall order I think.

The Torries seem divided following Prime Minister May’s disastrous gamble on a snap general election that went horribly wrong for the ruling party. And perhaps the infighting in her cabinet is a sign opportunists sense they have a chance to oust her once and for all.

The former British Prime minister, my namesake Blair says unequivocally that it is ‘absolutely necessary that Brexit does not happen.’ Stop the Brexit train. Ex-PM Tony says the Brexit decision has weakened the nation economically/ politically and also eroded business confidence.

He should know what he is talking about. He was the highly popular PM for his policies and had and still commands a lot of respect from the rest of the world. Will Brits abandon their decision to jump from the European common market ship? We cannot be sure at the moment.

But given the fact that it has taken a whole year to initiate discussions on what form the break up will take, it will not be something they find appetising if at all.

And so far the Brexit negotiator has not gotten a single promise that the EU will go soft on Britain in the negotiations. Brits voted to divorce EU partner nations, now they must pay the consequences or stay in the loveless marriage.

Meanwhile, our neighbours in Kenya went to the polls this week, following hotly contested election campaigns. Over 19 million people registered to vote, a six per cent increase over 2013.

Nothing to write home about there, just a population increase over time. Over 15 million Kenyans (78% turnout) showed up at polling stations. Long queues, mothers carrying babies, the sick and the elderly included.

Among the multitude who voted was a man seen having his lunch in a voter line. He became an instant internet and TV sensation after someone posted a photo of the man eating githeri, a mixture of maize and beans, a staple of the Gikuyu.

He was immediately dubbed the Githeri man. The opposition national super alliance or NASA was super opposed to the election results long before they were announced. First they claimed they had evidence showing someone had hacked into servers of the electoral commission and planted fake votes for their main opponent.

Some of us wondered, how did they get the information they displayed to the press without themselves doing some hacking?

Later, NASA demanded the IEBC declare their candidate president-elect. Again they had computer printouts in which they claimed their candidate had eight million votes and a few hundred thousand ahead of the Jubilee candidate.

It was a strange moment to some of us from outside Kenya. What was that about? Finally on the day of the official announcement of the winner, NASA staged a walkout.

This was after they had said they would accept the results only if they were given access to IEBC servers and could prove they had really lost. No grace in defeat? In the end the independent electoral and boundaries commission (IEBC) declared incumbent president Uhuru the winner with 8.2 million votes representing 54. 27% of total votes valid cast and having scored at least 25% of votes in the minimum 24 counties required by the Kenyan constitution.

Honourable Kenyatta had 35 such counties, and even won seats in traditional opposition strongholds.

The NASA candidate, Honourable Raila Omollo Odinga, fought a hard fight and managed to get almost 6.8 million votes representing about 44.7 per cent of votes cast.

It was really a two-horse race since even though there were a few other presidential candidates, none of them managed to make significant headway in their messages or votes. East Africans are looking forward to peace. Reports from the borders indicated Tanzanians stopped travelling to Kenya during and after the elections.

Kenyans travelled to Tanzania during the same period. Meanwhile, the USA and North Korea have been engaged in sabre rattling. President Kim and his generals have promised to hit the USA territory of Guam with missiles.

In return President Trump said USA military is locked and loaded, ready to deliver fire and fury. The war of words isn’t doing anybody favours. The DPRK does not react well to sanctions or threats. Will the latest verbal salvos and new UN sanctions end well?

The world needs peace. We have enough wars to last a lifetime. Another Korean war is in my opinion absolutely uncalled for. Will Trump order a hit on North Korea to divert attention from domestic issues facing his administration? The world needs peace and trade, not wars.

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