Thir­ty-five per­cent of reg­is­tered Kenyans didn’t both­er to vote in the just con­clud­ed elec­tions. Only 65 per­cent vot­ed, a far cry from the 85.91% of reg­is­tered vot­ers ten years ago in 2013.

Recent­ly, I have been talk­ing to Kenyans who did not vote to under­stand why they didn’t vote. Their answers are so strik­ing that we need to lis­ten to their voice and respond accordingly.

First, “Vot­ing in this coun­try is a waste of time since votes are always stolen any­way.” This answer came from Kye­va a 44-year-old moth­er of three from Tala in Machakos Coun­ty. She cit­ed the Supreme Court’s nul­li­fi­ca­tion of the 2017 elec­tions as proof that rig­ging is com­mon­place in Kenya.

Hope­ful­ly, these recent elec­tions will go a long way in restor­ing the faith of Kenyans in elec­toral integri­ty. Apart from man­age­able logis­ti­cal hitch­es, there is unan­i­mous agree­ment that IEBC con­duct­ed these elec­tions in one of the most trans­par­ent ways ever. Going for­ward we must equip them with more funds so that they can deliv­er increas­ing­ly cred­i­ble elec­tions. Unless Kenyans believe in the integri­ty of the elec­toral process, they will keep shy­ing away.

Sec­ond­ly, “Lead­ers for­get about us as soon as they win elec­tions. So why should I both­er to vote for them.” These sen­ti­ments were shared by a Kevin 24-year old col­lege grad­u­ate from Nairo­bi. Most of his fel­low gen­er­a­tion Z youth share those sentiments.

Only forty per­cent of youth between 18 and 35 reg­is­tered to vote. This means that six out of ten young Kenyans didn’t par­tic­i­pate in these elec­tions. If they had, they would have undoubt­ed­ly swayed the elec­tions in their favor.

We have been quick to con­demn Kenyans who didn’t vote as unpa­tri­ot­ic and insen­si­tive to devel­op­ment yet vot­ing is not com­pul­so­ry in Kenya as it is in some parts of the world. Nonethe­less, their vot­er apa­thy is sure­ly send­ing a mes­sage which we must lis­ten to.

The 24-year old’s mes­sage is sim­ple albeit pow­er­ful – lead­ers only engage them when they are hunt­ing for votes. That cul­ture must end. The new­ly elect­ed lead­ers must engage con­stituents habit­u­al­ly. Amer­i­can leg­is­la­tors do this through plat­forms like town hall meet­ings. These meet­ings are usu­al­ly held in the local­i­ties that elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives come from. Through the meet­ings, con­stituents can pose tough ques­tions to leg­is­la­tors. I rec­om­mend such reg­u­lar, inter­ac­tive ses­sions to our new­ly elect­ed lead­ers. These must be day-long, thor­ough ses­sions, not brief one-sided dec­la­ra­tions in mar­ket­places or roadsides.

Third­ly, “Same For­est, dif­fer­ent mon­keys.” This answer came from Balozi a fifty-year old mar­ried father of two from Naku­ru. He also didn’t vote because he hasn’t seen much change in the last four elec­toral cycles that he has vot­ed in. Con­se­quent­ly, he has become as dis­il­lu­sioned with pol­i­tics and elec­tions as the young peo­ple who are in his children’s generation.

H.E. William Ruto was first elect­ed to par­lia­ment dur­ing the 1997 Gen­er­al Elec­tions. On his part, Rt. Hon. Raila Odin­ga was elect­ed to par­lia­ment in 1993 after the 1992 Gen­er­al Elec­tions. Evi­dent­ly, they are both vet­er­an politi­cians. Many Kenyans yearn for breath of fresh air. As such, the Pres­i­dent elect must turn his vast polit­i­cal expe­ri­ence into a breath of fresh air that will inspire the elec­torate to believe in pol­i­tics and the elec­toral process that anchor it.

More impor­tant­ly, the pres­i­dent-elect must deliv­er on all the promis­es in his man­i­festo and if If he falls short, he must come clean with instead of using PR to cre­ate an impres­sion of ful­filled promises.

Polit­i­cal lead­ers have betrayed the trust that Kenyans had in them. The only way they can be trust­ed again is by unit­ing the coun­try and walk­ing the talk. Think green, act green!

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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