The presidency is key, but you should not forget the local vote

Members of the Uasin Gishu County Assembly.

Members of the Uasin Gishu County Assembly follow proceedings during delivering of a budget statement for the Financial Year 2022/2023 on June 28, 2022. 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Deals and compromises made in county assemblies can inspire or stunt growth across a whole range of sectors.
  • It is amazing the number of voters that do not know who they will be voting for as their MCAs.

Yesterday the music, the blaring horns, the ceaseless dancing and gyrating died.

The noisy campaigning is over and now is decision time.

On Tuesday morning, Kenyans will throng polling centres across the country to vote for women and men that they want to lead them.

Unofficially, night campaigns will go on with cash for sugar, alcohol, and t-shorts or wraparounds being handed out until the morning of Tuesday.

The silence is useful as it provides voters with a moment of tranquillity to reflect and sift through the many promises (and lies) that they have heard over many months.

Many have decided on who they will vote for, though quite a few have not.

It might not matter at the end of the day because one key fact that we all know is that democracy gives all a chance to participate but the majority have their way.

There are a number of facts for voters to think about as we head into Tuesday.

Neither Raila Amolo Odinga nor William Samoei Ruto will transform the voters’ lives from one lived under a burden of poverty into one of extravagant comfort.

These guys are looking for jobs for which we will pay them during their service and long after they leave.

Playing politics is all they know and their success lies in persuading us to believe promises (bound in manifestos) they will hardly keep.

Centres of Authority 

While they sit at the apex with the power to do and undo a lot of things, the really critical centres of authority that the voter can leverage using their vote on Tuesday is to ensure that the right people go into the county assemblies, the National Assembly and the Senate.

These are the places where laws are made and amended, national budgets approved and proposals on what projects will be financed at which locations are made.

Decisions made in these assemblies determine whether hospitals have drugs, whether critical social sectors such as education and health are given requisite priority, whether the danger facing us from a polluted environment triggering climate disruptions is well understood and prepared for, and whether agriculture is well supported to feed the growing populations.

Deals and compromises made in these assemblies can inspire or stunt growth across a whole range of sectors – manufacturing, technology, finance, the built environment, energy, the blue economy, etc.

At the very local level, the health of your local environment, that bridge that you use to cross to the market, the effectiveness of the local dispensary, general security in the village, etc. are all tied to the level of knowledge, awareness and willingness to serve of whoever you choose as the MP or your ward rep.

Despite the criticality of these roles, it is amazing the number of voters that do not know who they will be voting for as their MCAs.

This is especially true of the urban counties like Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa and elsewhere.

This needs to change urgently if lamentations of bad leadership leading to unwholesome lives are going to end.

Electing weak, unprincipled MPs and MCAs has encouraged the entrenchment of corruption and state capture, the twin evils that have crippled Kenya’s economic growth.

It is common knowledge that resourced individuals can get away with virtually anything, including determining legislation because they can manipulate parliamentary committees by bribing them.

County governors routinely “buy” loyalty and support from county assemblies by funding irrational benchmarking trips to destinations offering little learning but plenty of pleasurable indulgences!

Tribal affiliations 

Voters that are yet to decide who to vote for can still make a difference by choosing to vote with their minds and not on the basis of their tribal affiliations.

One vote can tilt the result of an MCA election outcome more decisively than it can a presidential one. So, go vote.

At this moment of reflection, it is also critical to remember that voting is an event.

Despite all the din and prodigious investment of energy and money, it will just require a day for the entire population to vote and . . . . yes, that is it.

On Wednesday, we are back to normal service and life will go on. The normal worries about fees, food, security, etc. will still bedevil us. Your neighbour will be the same.

Just because the person you voted for did not get elected is no reason to be hostile to your neighbour. 

The new president and the loser will continue living fabulous lives, the MPs too.

That anyone can even contemplate stirring insecurity in any part of the country because of elections is contemptible.

Response to even a hint of this must be met with firm, swift and ruthless force.

The writer, a former Editor-in-Chief of Nation Media Group, is now consulting. [email protected]; @TMshindi


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