Economy, News

Are We Ready For The Next Elections?

In exact­ly one year’s time, Kenyans will be troop­ing to vot­ing booths across the coun­try to vote for hun­dreds of lead­ers of their choice. Amongst them will be near­ly six mil­lion first-time vot­ers — young peo­ple who were not of age in 2017 when we last vot­ed. They will com­prise a crit­i­cal swing-vote that can eas­i­ly decide the elec­tions. This youth deserve to be pre­sent­ed with a menu of far-sight­ed lead­ers whose par­ties must be known for their respec­tive ideologues.

Polit­i­cal par­ties bear a huge respon­si­bil­i­ty in elec­toral pre­pared­ness. We may not be a two-par­ty democ­ra­cy like the Unit­ed States, but we do have a mul­ti-par­ty sys­tem of democ­ra­cy that did­n’t come easy. We must there­fore make the most of this sys­tem by con­sis­tent­ly insist­ing that as elec­tions draw close, par­ties must adopt and imple­ment their ideologies.

Most polit­i­cal par­ties in the coun­try do not have rec­og­niz­able ide­o­log­i­cal iden­ti­ty. Kenyans must con­sid­er this when vot­ing for giv­en par­ty can­di­dates. Indeed, votes should not just be cast for per­son­al­i­ties, but also for the ide­olo­gies of their parties.

In the same vein, those who are vying for seats should focus on sell­ing their agen­da to the elec­torate. They should­n’t waste time mas­sag­ing the egos of par­ty lead­ers and lumi­nar­ies. The more they sell their agen­da, the more their pol­i­tics will be issue-based, which is exact­ly what we need in the upcom­ing elections.

The big ques­tion is this — are we ready for the elec­tions? Are the polit­i­cal par­ties ready? Are the three arms of gov­ern­ment ready? Are the secu­ri­ty forces ready? And most impor­tant, is the elec­torate ready?

Sharon Salzberg the Amer­i­can author cap­tured the immense respon­si­bil­i­ty of vot­ing when she wrote that, “Vot­ing is the expres­sion of our com­mit­ment to our­selves, one anoth­er, this coun­try, and this world.” Every time we vote, we are express­ing our com­mit­ment to each oth­er that we shall elect lead­ers who will make Kenya and the world a bet­ter place.

On the logis­ti­cal side of vot­ing, IEBC is report­ed to have com­menced the process of procur­ing 100 elec­toral mate­ri­als that include elec­tion and ref­er­en­dum dec­la­ra­tion forms, bal­lot papers plus reg­is­trar of vot­ers. Even as this process unfolds, a for­mer IEBC Com­mis­sion­er has already warned that invit­ing for­eign com­pa­nies to sub­mit their appli­ca­tion for pro­duc­ing the vot­er reg­istry might end up com­pro­mis­ing this all-impor­tant reg­istry. Although his warn­ing is iso­lat­ed at the moment, it can eas­i­ly meta­mor­phose into a cho­rus and thus jeop­ar­dize the integri­ty of the elec­tions. We must address all these issues now instead of cry­ing about them lat­er. Out­stand­ing­ly, the gen­er­al plan­ning and inter­pre­ta­tion for the exe­cu­tion of elec­toral activ­i­ties is crit­i­cal for suc­cess­ful elec­tions. Once IEBC and part­ners strong­ly cre­ate a firm infra­struc­ture for man­age­ment, jus­tice, improved secu­ri­ty and peace, we shall approach the elec­tion day with unprece­dent­ed confidence.

Reg­is­tra­tion of new vot­ers is sen­si­tive and has to be at the fore­front. IEBC is tar­get­ing reg­is­tra­tion of at least four mil­lion new vot­ers. They must under­take this task with urgency and pro­fes­sion­al­ism. If they don’t do so, they might dis­en­fran­chise mil­lions of Kenyans, par­tic­u­lar­ly the youth who are first time vot­ers. They are the ones who can secure the gains of devo­lu­tion by vot­ing wise­ly, in a non-trib­al man­ner. Accord­ing­ly, it is crit­i­cal that IEBC and relat­ed insti­tu­tions focus in address­ing all inter­nal and exter­nal fac­tors that may trig­ger elec­tion-relat­ed malpractices.

Are these Kenyan vot­ers ready for the next elec­tions? Don’t we now real­ize that a coun­try’s lead­ers are a reflec­tion of its peo­ple? If we end up with trib­al lead­ers, it shall be because we are a trib­al peo­ple. If we end up with cor­rupt lead­ers, it shall also be because we our­selves are cor­rupt. As such, the most impor­tant prepa­ra­tion for the next elec­tions does­n’t lie with IEBC, Leg­is­la­tors, the Judi­cia­ry or the secu­ri­ty forces. Rather, the largest prepa­ra­tion lies with the more than twen­ty mil­lion Kenyans who shall cast their votes. Great lead­ers elect­ed will guide us to sus­tain­ably exploit our Eco­nom­ic, Social and Nat­ur­al cap­i­tal. We must there­fore Think and act green.

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About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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