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Use logic in mobilising voters to register

COMMENTARY
By Suba Churchill | March 11th 2016

NAIROBI: Kenyan politicians have resorted to bizarre and reprehensible tactics of coaxing reluctant would-be voters to enlist with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of the August 2017 General Election.

Even though it’s not the last of such exercises, leading political parties and politicians are treating it as if it was the only and last chance.

Gichugu Member of Parliament Njogu Barua has taken the cue from his Nyeri Town counterpart Esther Murungi in prescribing “no conjugal rights for those who fail to register as voters”.
Addressing locals, Mr Barua was quoted as saying “if your wife comes home in the evening, she should prove she has registered (as a voter) and if she fails to do so, do not give her what she likes most”.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has threatened those not registered as voters with the risk of being turned away should they seek public services under the county government.

In other regions, mourners have been threatened with being denied food at funerals unless they demonstrate that they have registered as voters. Why would elected leaders resort to such unthinkable tactics to mobilise voters? Are elections not supposed to lead to some outcomes with indicators that such leaders can use to demonstrate to their supporters and critics that they have delivered?

Do Kenyans put such a high premium on sex that it has become the only thing politicians can use as a scarecrow to blackmail the electorate into listing as voters, or it is a case of a political elite completely out of touch with the priority needs of the people?

Gichugu Constituency that Hon Njogu Barua represents in the National Assembly is in Kirinyaga County where Leonard Kimotho, a 25-year-old resident of Kiorugari village in the county left many, including his own parents, in utter shock when he did the unthinkable on the first day of 2016.

As others were celebrating the New Year, the young man cut off his genitals claiming that the organ “is useless and he is better off without it”.

He was to later explain that he was frustrated that he was too poor to attract a suitor and his action was an act of desperation. One would have expected the legislator, having been elected as a policy and lawmaker, to enumerate the many policies that he, along with his colleagues in the assembly, have made to tackle youth unemployment and excruciating poverty stalking the youth that make Leonard Kimotho and his generation feel so hopeless as to think that they and their bodily organs are useless to a point of severing them.

A Pew Research Centre survey commissioned by the United Nations late last year ahead of the UN Summit that adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 indicated that most citizens of Sub-Saharan Africa prioritise health care, education and effectiveness of their governments to tackle corruption ahead of matters of the loin, as our legislators seem to think.

In Kenya, for example, provision of health care ranked top for 33 per cent of those polled, with education and agriculture following at 28 and 15 per cent respectively. Effectiveness of the government in tackling corruption attracted 13 per cent with a paltry 7 per cent highlighting infrastructure such as roads, new railway tracks and bridges as a priority while another meagre 4 per cent thought provision of electricity was a matter of priority. But rather than direct their energies to such scientifically proven priority needs of the people, our political leaders are busy borrowing colossal amounts of money to put up infrastructural amenities whose economic benefits are reaped by tender-prenuers and corrupt government officials inflating project costs at the expense of the overtaxed populace.

With the economy only looking up because it’s lying on its back, not creating enough jobs to absorb the high number of youth graduating from universities and middle-level colleges, the likes of Leonard Kimotho can only resort to such self-defeating actions.

It is little wonder that our MPs can only think of such dishonourable manoeuvres as denial of conjugal rights to mobilise voters.
Even as lawmakers, it is completely lost on them that denial of conjugal rights by a spouse is one of the grounds on which an aggrieved spouse can seek and obtain divorce in a court of law, and is one of the leading causes of domestic violence in Kenya.

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