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Kenya is a difficult democracy

By Steve Umeme | February 11th 2017
By any standards, Kenya is considered an emerging democracy. Emerging because we have not perfected the art yet. That is why we are still discussing procedures for voting.

 Like; whether we should have manual or electronic registration or transmit ballot papers physically or send the results electronically using mobile phone technology.

Every voter in Kenya knows that our election system is guided by the universal principle of one man, one vote.

Our fear is not that people are not going to vote. Voting will take place regardless of whether the turnout is high or not.

After all, voting in Kenya is not compulsory, so I don’t know why politicians are busy enticing people to register.

The civic education on voter education should be left to the IEBC and maybe the civic organisations. Telling people to register and vote is not enough unless they are also educated on why they should vote.

The average Kenyan has no clue what the strategic issues are. The only motivation that drives the majority of the voters is ethnicity; the principle of us-against-them that guides voters in Kenya.

 But globally also, the ideals and the fundamentals of democracy seem to be losing meaning. What happened in America in November last year during the elections that saw Donald J. Trump get elected illustrates that people no longer care about rational issues.

The White American voters were subjected to large doses of fear of losing their privilege that saw them elect a man who in previous elections would never have come close to the gates of the White House.

Democracy is a strange phenomenon. It allows politicians to manipulate the voters for their selfish gains.

We now need to revisit the purpose of democracy if Kenya is to stay afloat. As it is, under the current system of fear, politics of ethnicity and voter buying will lead us nowhere.

 If voters don’t have the motivation to vote except to bring one of their own to power, then the purpose of democracy is lost.

voting in an election is a skill, not a random intuition. And like any skill, it needs to be taught systematically to people.

Letting the citizenry vote without an education is as irresponsible as putting a drunk driver behind the wheels of a car and expecting him to arrive home safely.

However hard we try and make noise about poor governance structures in Kenya, nothing much will change. If the voters don’t understand the issues, then democracy by itself will have no meaning and voting every five years becomes merely a ritual.
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