Are you ready for next year’s polls? It matters a great deal

OPINION |

On the logistical side of voting, IEBC is reported to have commenced the process of procuring 100 electoral materials. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

 

In one year’s time, Kenyans will troop to voting booths across the country to vote for hundreds of leaders for the next five years. Among 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. These youth deserve to be presented with a menu of far-sighted leaders whose parties must be known for their respective ideologies.  

Political parties bear a huge responsibility for electoral preparedness. We may not be a two-party democracy like the US, but we 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 Kenyan political parties do not have recognisable ideological identities. 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 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, an 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 a better place. 

On the logistical side of voting, IEBC is reported to have commenced the process of procuring 100 electoral materials.

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 jeopardise 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 create a firm infrastructure for management, justice, improved security and peace, we shall approach the election day with confidence. 

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 on addressing all internal and external factors that may trigger malpractices. 

Are these Kenyan voters ready for the next elections? Don’t we now realise 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 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 20 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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