Politicians to get psychosocial support after elections

Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu at a past event in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu has announced that psychosocial support is available to politicians who contested in this General Election.

Ms Nderitu said that the services of professional counsellors are critical to prevent election losers and winners going far away from coming back to the reality of life.

While losers endure the heavy burden of coming to terms with the reality of an expensive election campaign, she says, winners have many friends and many people willing to celebrate.

“In both cases, a quick return to normal is important so that we can move on as individuals and as a Nation. The winners will definitely have an uphill task to fulfill the campaign promises,” says Ms Nderitu.

Quoting Wilma Rudolph, an American track and field athlete, the parties’ registrar says that winning is great sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose.

“It’s important to prepare for social support when you win otherwise a win is still overwhelming,”

The bitter reality is that of the 16,100 candidates who contested in this year’s election, 14,218 will not get seats despite their financial input in the process.

This is because there are only 1,882 elective slots available for grabs as per the Constitution –President (1), Governor (47), Senator (47), Woman Representative (47), MP (290) and Members of the County Assembly (1,450).

Data from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) shows that four candidates were cleared to run for President, 266 for governor seats, 341 for senate seats, 360 for Woman Representative, 2,132 for MP and 12,997 for Members of the County Assembly (MCA).

A further breakdown shows that 14,137 candidates were male while 1,962 were female with 11,592 candidates above 35 years and 4,508 representing youths.

Of these candidates, 11,574 are fronted by 78 registered political parties while 4,526 are vying as independents.

In the 2017 general elections, IEBC gazetted 14,543 candidates.

The Office of Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) with support of other partners, has already developed and launched Kenya’s Political Education Source Book, unveiled in July, 2022.

A chapter in the book has been dedicated on managing elections outcomes- how best to reposition “oneself as candidates” and even their social support system upon the two only outcomes in an elective contest- winning or losing. 

Other than the stressing financial cost, Ms Nderitu notes that the election process is mentally overwhelming, emotionally draining, psychologically and physically demanding for candidates and persons working closely with them.

Ahead of this year’s elections, political parties and candidates had to undergo vigorous processes before making it to the ballot paper.

They include identification of a party to run on or vie as an independent candidate, getting running mates, party membership verification processes and party nominations exercise.

There was also clearance of independent candidates’ symbols, soliciting for thousands of signatures and copies of Identity Cards of supporters especially for independent candidates and all presidential candidates.

There was also the requirement of getting on board proposers and seconders, identifying agents and mobilisers and making campaign plans and schedules to be approved by the commission, communication teams, campaign branding materials and social media influencers were also required.

Some candidates endured vicious court battles for their names to be on the ballot papers.

“Some election losers may take it graciously and move on, others will refuse to accept the outcome of the result, and others will seek legal redress by filing petitions. There are those who will be devastated and therefore thrown completely off life balance while others are just in a state of consternation and have no idea what next or who to turn to,” she says.

“If unchecked there are those who may fall into depression as others withdraw. Yet others will regret having participated and sold their property and used all their savings. Winners will of course celebrate, but some celebrations can go beyond normal where winners demean the losers and mock them.”

According to the parties' boss, this is the reason “a proactive plan of action” by various actors is required to address the tilt because the winners get all the attention and the fan-fare that comes with it to the detriment of much higher numbers of the losers.

“Both the winners and losers should approach the election outcome prepared and with the sobriety deserved. There must be a calculated move to prepare for either outcome and get ready with an action plan on how to move on, after all elections are about winning or losing.”

The parties’ registrar notes that managing expectations should start at a personal level.

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