Abolish elections, use opinion polls

nation nmg poll raila ruto elections
Photo credit: Nation Media Group

There’s no need to go through the expense of holding the General Election in August. Most of the Sh45 billion budgeted for about the most expensive elections in the world could be diverted to other priorities, such as education and healthcare.

All we have to do is look for simpler and less expensive ways of identifying our servants, from the County Assembly all the way up to State House.

Apart from the money to be saved if we scrapped the polls, there will also be incalculable dividends in many other areas.

Kenyan elections always hold the threat of violence and heightened ethnic tensions, which will dissipate without the usual electioneering noise and the incitement that comes from politicians. The massive deployment of security forces will go back to their core duties of fighting crime.

It’s also obvious that the tensions and fears associated with our electoral cycles have a damaging impact on the economy. Investors tend to adopt a wait-and-see approach. Tourists, conference visitors and business delegations tend to give Kenya a wide berth in the period leading to elections, and in the immediate aftermath.

Economic regression

Thousands of young men and women who join the campaign trail as hired heckles and muscle can be directed to more productive and less demeaning pursuits. Instead of the new common fears and uncertainties coupled with economic regression every five years, we can look forward to lasting peace and tranquillity, and the dividend of uninterrupted growth and development.

If national obsession with politicking— with no respite even in-between general elections—contributes so much to the national malaise, it follows that doing away with that ritual of every five years might be just what the doctor ordered.

Doing away with elections as we know them does not mean doing away with democracy. It’s not about installing a military regime or an absolute monarchy. Rather, it is about adopting the unique model of democracy put on show by all our political parties during their primary elections.

We were introduced to novel home-grown concepts such as consensus, consultations and negotiated democracy.

When talks failed, some of the parties even resorted to what they grandly called ‘scientific’ methods of selecting their nominees for County Assembly, Parliament and gubernatorial elections, which they felt were more accurate than the ballot box.

Yes, let’s scrap August 9 elections and have the winners selected by the very same methods they were handed their party tickets. They are beneficiaries of the unique methods they witnessed first-hand, and therefore will surely not hesitate to engage in negotiations with their rivals towards settling on the best representative.

If there is no consensus, they should be agreeable to advanced methods that will determine the most popular candidate without subjecting their supporters to long queues in the equatorial sun just to put a piece of paper in the ballot box, and then agonising hours waiting for the vote count. Opinion polls are the answer. Yes, all the main political formations gave a massive endorsement of scientific methods of determining their best candidates, so they should be happy to apply the same methods to the elections proper.

It’s a mark of real progress when political outfits that usually dismiss opinion polls that are not in their favour finally accept that such methods actually do work and are preferable to actual voting.

Intensive consultations

Whether it’s negotiated democracy or opinion polls, the outcome will be a method that gives Kenya the most popular President, Governor, Senator, Member of the National Assembly, Woman Representative and Member of County Assembly without the expense, chaos, drama, noise and violence of electioneering.

Between them, Infotrak, Consumer Insight, Tifa Research and Ipsos have the skills, manpower and experience to deliver at a fraction of the inflated budget demanded by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

If it goes that way, I can even declare here and now that my Federal United Coalition of Kenya has withdrawn its presidential candidate following intensive consultations, and is backing the candidacy of that George Wakajoker fellow. For avoidance of doubt, I need to state here and now that I’ve not ingested or inhaled the herbal products that will be legalised once my candidate assumes office.

However, we are still open to approaches from Raila Odinga and William Ruto. I will not ask to be Prime Minister or Deputy President, but will be content Premier Assistant Senior Cabinet Secretary in charge of Mining, Energy and Transport. Of course, I’ll also expect a reasonable share of ambassadorships and state corporation jobs for my party, sorry, my kinsmen.

[email protected], www.gaitho.co.ke,  @MachariaGaitho

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