OP-ED: Varsity politics turn divisive and tribal at the Meru National Polytechnic

It is Election Day it is a bright day compared to most of the days in Meru. It had been a week of torrential rain. The mood was electric, campaign agents for various aspirants roved around various polling stations and checking on the voting process.

Some would be seen near the ballot boxes or closely near the queue to check if someone had wanted to vote twice. The main race for President of the Student Council of the Meru National Polytechnic attracting a lot of attention judging from the large convoys seen a day before the election and shortly afterward. It was a race between 3 main aspirants Elvis “Pampula” Ondiema, Onesmus “Kinara” Muchui and Ernest Magaju.

At some point, a scuffle erupted near one of the main polling stations. The issue is that someone was largely planning on playing games with the electioneering process. The mood remained highly charged relatively throughout out the day. The election results are highly anticipated after a rather bruising and divisive battle.

The election largely focused on two main things; tribe and friendliness to the administration. Ernest Magaju was largely propagated to be the administration’s project while the more popular candidate Elvis Ondiema was painted to be an enemy of the administration and propagated to be largely not able to work with it to bring the issues of comrades to the administration if elected. Allegations of a rigged system leave the atmosphere polarized, as students wait to see whether the electoral body would deliver a free and fair election.

Though allegations of a rigged voter system went largely unproven, talk was rife that the administration was largely ready to make sure that the election would not be won by Elvis Ondiema. This is because he was believed to have almost caused student unrest due to various matters raised such as student insecurity and accommodation matters in the school.

However, even with his popularity among students, Elvis Ondiema remained unpopular among some of the members of the Meru Community. Since time memorial the seat of the presidency largely remained a preserve of this community. Tribal mobilization thus became a factor as his opponents used his background against him and trying to rile up the Meru base to be against him.  Nonetheless, this did not stop Elvis’ win.

Mostly known as ‘Pampulla’ his campaign was largely punctuated with issues such as solving matters for comrades and constitutional review of the Student Council Constitution and promoting equality of all the departments of the school and among members of the student population.

Come election day the uncertainty of his win largely remained. In an interview with The Sauce Pampulla said a day before the election he still did not have any faith with the election system and towards the end of the interview intimated that he would push for reform change to allow for an independent observer and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission working closely with the administration’s electoral body for a more free and fair process. At the end of the day, he emerged the winner of the election managing to garner 1401 votes as compared to Ernest Magaju who got 567.

Asked on whether how he would help bridge the largely tribal gap he said “We had a discussion with my well able opponents and brainstorms on ideas on how to bring the entire student body together because that is the beginning of development. Equality is going to bring us together and serve them according to who they are, not what they are.”

Other members of the congress include Teresia Wairimu who will be the new Deputy President and will co-share the power with Wachira Kimani and the Secretary-General will be Ronnie Ogada.


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