What you need to know:
From active participation in decision making, access to gainful employment, to creating enabling laws for doing business, here’s what the youth demand of the new government
On Monday, we concluded one of the most competitive elections in recent history, which saw strange political realignments and new campaign narratives.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati declared Dr William Ruto as the President-elect. In his first stab at the country’s top seat, Dr Ruto used his populist hustler agenda to attract 7.1million votes to edge out his closet challenger, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who polled 6.9 million.
In the polls, pundits observed that most of the young people suffered voter apathy because they believe that leaders have never had the interest of the electorate at heart, but were rather seeking power for selfish reasons.
With the process concluded (for now), and the change of guard in the country’s top seat and other elective positions, we sought to understand what the youth truly feel about the election process, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s scorecard and the expectations they have of the new administration.
Emmanuel Chege, 21, student of agricultural and bio-systems engineering at Kenyatta University
I am a political animal and I fancy local politics a lot, it has a way of making itself the agenda in every conversation, particularly during an electioneering period.
During this campaign period, I asked several people what informed their political choices, and I found it very disappointing how propaganda and non-issues influence our choices. As much as they say we are in the information age, it’s sad that people still can’t differentiate the main issues from the noise when choosing leaders.
Even though there has been a change in narratives from ethnic mobilisations to issue-based discussions during campaigns, at the ballot, it still boils down to tribalism and clannism.
A worrying trend I noted is that some institutions, which were supposed to be neutral, were showing clear bias against particular candidates. I strongly believe that all political contests should have a level playfield because it is in the best interest of the country that democracy prevails.
Good governance has the potential to secure the country’s future. When the late President Mwai Kibaki was elected in 2002, he spurred our economy to great heights through expansion of infrastructure, access to free education and much more.
So did President Uhuru Kenyatta, despite both his terms being plagued by corruption, he put the country in a trajectory of robust economic growth through the building of infrastructure, especially roads, railway network and industrial parks.
However, we couldn’t fully enjoy the benefits of such infrastructure due to the menace of corruption and policies that impede developments.
I believe this nation is in dire need of an economic revival. We are in a really bad place as a country right now. The cost of living and that of doing business has skyrocketed. Unemployment is at a record high and money circulation, minimal. That’s what makes them susceptible to cheap politics, out of desperation.
With Ruto being the president-elect, the minimum I expect from his government is to fulfil his manifesto. I believe by achieving that, he’ll have transformed the lives of many Kenyans and and set the country on a path of economic growth and recovery from the debt crisis and inflation.
I am hoping he can implement his policy on the separation of powers of the arms of government to ensure bodies such as the judiciary are fully independent so they can fulfil their mandate without any form of manipulation.
For the youth, what the incoming government can do is have good policies that create an enabling environment for young people, who are mostly in Small Medium Entreprises (SMEs) to grow their resource. When you have punitive laws, you are limiting a group that is already limited in many ways.
I am glad that Mr Kenyatta did not sign into law the ICT Practitioners Bill that required all techies, including website developers, to obtain a licences to operate. So, I am hoping that the policies that will be pushed by the incoming government will be favourable to the youth.
I am particularly thrilled by the incoming governor of Nairobi Johnson Sakaja’s promise that all businesses in the city will operate under one licence and that he’ll allow free photography in the city, which will help local artists to work freely. Such laws spur growth.
Philly Vanisha, Journalism graduate currently working as a digital marketer
Elections in this country have a way of causing a deep sense of uncertainty, and yet it is still a thrilling exercise. I am particularly thrilled by the fact that I got to exercise my civic right to influence change in leadership.
However, at that moment, I was still paranoid. Voting for someone requires that you subscribe to their vision for the country, so there’s the paranoia that comes with not knowing what will happen if the opposing side wins.
It was very interesting to see how the electorate dedicated their time and attention to aspirants who gave handouts, and the extent they campaigned for them. I think hanging dangerously on trucks was unnecessary. We need to shift from focusing on handouts and take time to actually listen to aspirants’ manifestos.
From their policies, I believe all the presidential candidates in this election had concrete plans for the citizenry, which, if actualised, will no doubt take the country through an economic recovery path where the marginalised groups like youth and women will be the centre of governance.
To properly gauge the performance of any government, rather than reducing it to individuals in power, we have to refer to their action plans; What did they promise? Did they deliver? Do people in the country feel like their voices are heard? Or has the status quo been maintained?
Based on those metrics, I’d say the outgoing government’s performance was satisfactory. There has been undeniable growth in various sectors, particularly in the health sector, even though there was a lot more that could have been done in this and other dockets.
However, I believe the solution to Kenya's challenges lies in better governance, political accountability, more opportunities for the youth, workable proposals for social security and inclusion of marginalised groups such as those living with disability in governance.
We also need to make the cost of living affordable and make our economy sustainable for the future, which lies in its youthful population.
Youths face unemployment and a challenge in getting capital to start businesses. I have spoken to a lot of young people who are full of brilliant ideas, what is lacking is the finances to execute them. Young people are driven, but suffer from a lack of opportunities. If these issues are addressed, then we are looking at a better future for the country.
James Githaiga, 25, swimming coach and pool maintenance expert
As a youth interested in competitive sports, I am always keen to see what the government is doing to nurture talents among young people, particularly in sports.
We’ve just concluded one of the longest and toughest campaign periods in the country. Apart from the duration, this year’s campaigns are going to be historic as the first ever issue-based contest, away from tribal rhetoric witnessed in the yester years.
For instance, the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga gave leeway for the latter to campaign freely in the former’s turf of Mt Kenya, something not witnessed before. These campaigns were comparatively, largely peaceful.
However, I believe we need legislation that will solidify our exit from ethnic based politics and tame utterances by politicians that can incite chaos.
As far as the former government is concerned, I believe they tried the best they could in governing the country despite the challenges they faced. Some of the areas I think they did really well are infrastructure through the construction of roads, ports, railways and making electricity accessible to a lot of homesteads in Kenya.
I’d say they also performed well in education by implementing the competency based curriculum, which is transforming learning and creating new opportunities for jobs in the sector. However, I am very disappointed with how debt and corruption were managed.
I believe the incoming government has their work cut out for them to address these bottlenecks. I expect that Ruto as the president-elect will start by bringing Kenyans together as elections tend to be very divisive. Everyone needs to feel included in the government.
It is also worth noting that his manifesto was quite different from what we’ve been seeing before.
Dr Ruto suggested the bottom up economic model that is a new facet in our governance. I am very hopeful that we will see this implemented and enjoy its fruits.
We have a lot of Kenyans living in poverty, so I am expecting that his bottom up approach will jumpstart our economy and improve the living standards of the common citizenry by devolving more resources to the grassroots.
As the hustler movement promised, I expect the new administration to keenly look into issues that bedevil youth and build an enabling environment where they can self-develop. Young people are very active in sports and SMEs, so I expect legislation and policies that will grow these sectors.
It has often been the case that our sportsmen are neglected and work in poor conditions, even though they represent the country globally. It is my hope that this will change.
It would help to give youth access to zero-rated loans to start businesses, and also heighten the war against drug abuse. Investing in industries and agriculture will also be crucial in creating more jobs.