Youth should vote and avoid poll violence

Goons in Homa Bay

Hired goons keep watch during a political function in Hom Bay. In an election season such as this, the usually mean-looking men, dressed in suits or camouflage gear and dark glasses, are a common sight in these events. 

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

The Nation article “Goons of Disaster” brings out the vivid picture of how the youth are being used as ‘political and ethnic warriors’.

Politicians and other people use cash and other handouts to instigate violence in political activities such as rallies, campaigns and other social gatherings with some taking to social media to coordinate and openly discuss their vile activities.

In all the politically instigated and electoral-induced ethnic clashes, the youth are mostly visibly engaged and used to perpetrate violence.

According to official reports, more than 70 per cent of the direct perpetrators of the violence were young people yet only five per cent of youth engaged in violence, meaning all is not lost among the youth if the small percentage is nipped in the bud.

Now that election plans have heated up across the country, the government, police officers and other relevant stakeholders should ensure that security is also heightened so avoid violence.

The rise of New Media, which is characterised by social media platforms, can be used as a tool to curb and forestall election violence instigated by social groups, especially the youth.

Young people are actively engaged in social media platforms, which offer violent actors the opportunity to publicise their act.

There is a need for law enforcers to heighten their social media surveillance and prevent violent debates online. Police should actively involve their ICT teams to closely monitor gangs reported in various counties.

Close monitoring of their posts and news feeds might give them the information they need in order to curb election violence.

Stern punishment

Actions such as hate speech against an opponent or in any regard to communities should not be taken lightly. Stern punishment should be handed down to those found guilty. Political rallies should also be heavily guarded to ensure safety for all.

Youth lobbies should create awareness of the adverse impacts of election violence on the country, particularly the young people. This will help them to understand that there is nothing to gain from engaging in such activities and that they will only be destroying their future.

The youth should be roped in the aspirants’ manifestos, especially regarding issues affecting them, such as the high unemployment and low representation of the youth in government.

Leaders and aspirants should also be on the forefront of promoting peace and harmony amid all communities.

Prevention is the first imperative of justice. Everything possible must be done to prevent the youth from involving in election violence.

Let the youth engage in legitimate roles such as their participation in voting as voters and poll agents, campaigning responsibly for their parties and candidates.

Ms Pamella is a communication and media technology student at Maseno University. [email protected]

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