Chris Msando murder already being looked through political blinders
What you need to know:
- Even before his death of was confirmed, many of those allied to Mr Odinga seemed to take it as a matter of faith that Mr Msando was a victim of the system for political motives related to his work at the IEBC.
- Kalonzo Musyoka and demanded assurances that the elections will remain credible and that there was no mischief over the killing.
- Jubilee social media propaganda machine started spreading a diagram illustrating Mr Msando's alleged links to Mr Odinga, suggesting that he was part of a Nasa rigging plan.
- Mr Msando’s killing came not just on the final lap towards a fiercely contested election, but in the midst of happenings and political rhetoric that had put election security on top of the agenda.
Investigations are still in the early stages, but there is doubt that the murder of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's (IEBC) ICT manager Christopher Msando is already being looked at through political blinders.
The killing of the a man who played a key role in setting up the electronic voter identification and result tallying, transmission and storage systems, just seven days before a pivotal General Election, was bound to raise suspicion of foul play.
This was especially so in an environment where electioneering over the past few months has been dominated by Opposition claims that the Jubilee administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta was planning to rig itself back power; and counter claims that Mr Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) had sensed defeat and was thus setting the stage for rejection of the results and possibly a violent reaction.
Immediately news broke on Sunday that his family had reported Mr Msando missing, social media chatter, much of it driven by activists serving either sides of the political divide, went into overdrive with conspiracy theories.
Even before the death of was confirmed, many of those allied to Mr Odinga seemed to take it as a matter of faith that Mr Msando was a victim of the system for political motives related to his work at the electoral commission.
Supporters of President Kenyatta, on the other hand, were a bit more circumspect, especially being on the defensive.
But there were some who did also point fingers, suggesting that the opposition would be a beneficiary if anything untoward happened.
There were also a good number who thought it was all much ado about nothing, venturing that Mr Msando had simply over-extended a weekend tryst and would in due course make a reappearance.
Then on Monday it was finally established that Mr Msando was dead, and his body had all along been lying at the Nairobi City Morgue where it was delivered by police as an unidentified African male.
Almost immediately, opposition politicians called a press conference to demand answers.
Although careful not to directly blame Jubilee, the government or its security agencies; the group led by Nasa co-principals Moses Wetang'ula and Musalia Mudavadi was categorical that it must have been political assassination.
They alleged that Mr Msando was killed “by people determined to get their desired outcome in the elections”, but did not explain how his elimination would affect the election results.
Speaking separately from a campaign forays in Taita Taveta, Mr Odinga’s runningmate Kalonzo Musyoka and demanded assurances that the elections will remain credible and that there was no mischief over the killing, and so did another Nasa co-principal, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto in a press release sent to newsrooms.
The political significance was further illustrated the same day when the American Ambassador in Nairobi Robert F. Godec and British High Commissioner Nic Hailey released a joint statement raising concern over Mr Msando’s killing just a few days before the elections.
From the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet, the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko and the Principal Secretary for Interior Karanja Kibicho gave assurances of prompt investigations and appeals for end to rumour, speculation and politicised conspiracy theories.
It was not until Tuesday that President Kenyatta came in with his own statement ordering the investigative agencies to hasten the probe into the killing.
He also ordered enhanced security for other IEBC officials.
Mr Msando’s killing came not just on the final lap towards a fiercely contested election, but in the midst of happenings and political rhetoric that had put election security on top of the agenda.
Nasa had just caused a mighty row with allegations that Jubilee was planning to use the Kenya Defence Forces to rig the elections, or forcefully re-install President Kenyatta if he lost at the poll.
It was also in the midst of a near-comical deadly drama that played out at Deputy President William Ruto’s rural home where a lone intruder armed with a panga, held at bay a large detachment of police officers and the best of its specialised units before being subdued.
The confluence of events all generated their own political reverberations.
The siege at Mr Ruto’s home saw Jubilee and Nasa supporters pointing fingers at each other; the former saying it was part of Mr Odinga’s disruptive strategy, and the latter saying it was stage-managed to win sympathy votes.
Controversial pro-Jubilee political commentator Mutahi Ngunyi proffered that it was Mr Odinga who stood to gain if any harm befell Mr Ruto.
It was same thing he had said following the death of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, which he insisted against all evidence, was an assassination. It turned out to be a heart attack.
When Mr Msando went missing, the Jubilee social media propaganda machine started spreading a diagram illustrating his alleged links to Mr Odinga, suggesting that he was part of a Nasa rigging plan.
They also roped-in Jubilee’s current favourite bogeyman, controversial government supplier Jimi Wanjigi, who they claimed was the last person to have spoken to Mr Msando, just as he was the last person to have spoken to slain business colleague Mr Jacob Juma.
The allegations were uploaded before information came out that Mr Msando was dead!
But the award for the biggest social media faux pas probably goes to Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.
After Mr Msando’s abandoned car was recovered, the Jubilee MP with notoriety for hate speech, took the trouble to go and pose for a photograph beside the vehicle, with a scurrilous caption on the missing IEBC man.
He moved speedily to take down the post after Mr Msando was reported dead, but it was too late as screenshots were already doing the rounds.