There are those who have sworn not to participate in the August 9 election, having been let down by those they elected before. It’s the same reason being cited by those who spin the narrative that ‘all politicians are the same’.
I find the latter assertion grossly deficient. We recently buried former President Mwai Kibaki. Many mourned him as a man who transformed the country. His 10-year rule was touted as the most progressive. Whereas he wasn’t without fault, he is testimony that all leaders aren’t the same. Kibaki wouldn’t have proven his prowess if he wasn’t given a chance.
The fact that voting is enshrined in our constitution implies that it’s a civic responsibility. Put differently, those who wilfully elect to abstain are irresponsible citizens, hence, lose the right to comment on any omissions or commissions of the resultant government. Remember the words of Keith Ellison: ‘Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.’ That’s why I always encourage individuals to vote, regardless of their choice. And the reason is simple; when one resolves to vote, they commit themselves to the critical task of scrutinising the candidates.
Resist certain temptations
So scrutiny is the word. We must ask hard questions. We must be honest with ourselves first before we expect an honest government. But something happens to us during the electioneering season; all of a sudden, we all become ‘wise’ before our own eyes. We originate all sorts of yardsticks for measuring good leaders: Affluence, tribe, religion, clan, education level and whatnot. Ironically, those who consider one’s wealth include the have-nots, who will often be heard dismissing a certain candidate as an ‘empty pocket’. Similarly, some of the most educated citizens will be seen lining up behind buffoons and scoundrels for cash.
It’s foolhardy to expect candidates, all the way from ward representatives to the president, to dish out money during campaigns and still remain good custodians of public coffers. Obviously, these fellows will be held hostage by cartels that oil their campaign machinery.
A governor, for instance, won’t be able to implement their manifesto amidst ‘creditors’ who insist on being paid in kind through award of tenders, most of which are neither in line with the county’s priority nor offer value for money.
Let’s vote wisely if we mean good for ourselves and progeny. Let’s resist certain temptations, for instance voting out of vengeance. Instructively, there abound individuals who voted to punish certain candidates, only to find themselves stranded with a devil incarnate as their leader.
Mr Osabwa is a lecturer at Alupe University College, Busia. [email protected]