There are several statements that have been said in regards to corruption and the forthcoming general elections that I find completely irritating; one of them being, “What have you done for the government?” Others include, “Instead of complaining, why don’t you offer solutions?” “Have they stolen your mother’s money?” “Preach peace” “Election day will come and go but Kenya will remain”.
If I had time I would have discussed each of those statements to show how misguided they are, just as I did with the “preach peace” statement, of which “election day will come and go” is an extension. “Election day will come and go” is a statement being thrown around to make you, the voter, belittle the importance of the electoral process – that you should not push so much on the demand for a free, fair, credible, transparent, and verifiable elections. Those insisting on this statement are indirectly asking you to turn a blind eye on whatever may seem wrong so that after the wrong is done, your work as a patriotic Kenyan is to accept and move on. Peace, they say, is more important.
But the election day is more important than the misguided peace. It is through elections that citizens exercise the power to throw out bad leadership. The alternative, in absence of elections or any other form of non-violent political change process, the citizens would be left to the mercy of violent revolution. This revolution could be in the form of a civil war, military coupe, or a combination of the two. It is therefore very important for the citizens to be made aware that the electoral process, including the elections day, is a process that must never be belittled.
Elections cannot be belittled because they change the fabric of governance. If for example a government has created a few billionaires at the expense of majority who have been made poorer, if insecurity has increased and the cost of living skyrocketed, public debt ballooned, health care looted, and the business environment made unbearable due to improperly formulated economic and public policies, then an election day that retains that government in power means sending the country straight into depression.
On the flip side, if an election day passes to give rise to a dictator, a robber (instead of a thief), then every day after the elections will be marked by anarchy.
Still, the election day may give the country that one time opportunity to bring into office someone who can provide social justice, social development, and social cohesion. The country can use the election day to usher in an era of prosperity not only for the few filthy rich but for all. That every day after the election day someone born in the heart of Kibera, Mathare or Lodwar can have numerous opportunities to make a change in their lives, lives of their loved ones, lives of those living around their communities, or lives of the entire country. Or even have that one in a lifetime chance to change the world.
The end of an election may usher in endless days and nights of death, agony, pain, hunger, indebtedness, poverty and frustrations for the majority (there are a few who will always enjoy the fruits of bad leadership) due to corruption, impunity, and incompetent policies, or usher in hope, prosperity, progress, and holistic development. If an election ushers in the former, than how better would that be than a civil war?
It should be very clear to each Kenyan that an election day is not a day that comes and goes, but a day where every adult citizen has the mandate to peacefully retain or change the entire fabric of governance. An election day is a solemn day, a sacred day. A day in which the adult Kenyan determines how his/her future will pan out – and provides hope or despair for the future of his/her offsprings.
And that’s why each and every single vote should matter. It is already too bad that today in Kenya there are some 9 million Kenyans with ID cards who will not participate in the forthcoming general elections. These are Kenyans who did not register as voters, probably because they thought their preferred candidates won’t garner more than 1% of the votes, or thought that their votes will not count (it is not they that vote whose votes count, but they that count the votes), or they thought that as a single person their single vote won’t change anything in the grand scheme of votes, or sickness, finances, logistics, weather, etc denied them the chance to register as voters.
If every single Kenyan thought that their votes matter, the number of unregistered voters could be less than 5% of eligible voters. But since Kenya’s electoral processed as been marred with electoral malpractice, majority of those who wanted to consider a third force leadership decided not to register – and there are about 9 million of them – a significant of voters who if they put all their votes in one basket, could have ushered in a brand new face of Kenya’s leadership – leadership that could have accelerated us from a developing country to a developed one even before 2030.