To address cost of living, approach elections with sobriety

Friday, July 8th, 2022 04:00 | By
More Kenyans ‘will fall into debt’ as cost of living bites
Goods at a supermarket. PHOTO/File

Kenyans are reminded every minute of every day what the political status quo has brought us to: It is in the constant sensation of hunger in everybody’s stomach; the high cost of living, unaffordable basic services including healthcare and education, high levels of corruption and endless challenges. 

If Kenyans awaken after the General Election on August 9 to discover we have somehow voted back the same insensitive, selfish and corrupt leaders — or if they win simply because too few bothered to vote — then, perhaps we deserve five more years of suffering.

We should not vote merely because of how bad things are, but because of how much, much worse they could become. If we fail to vote decisively for radical change, we’ll have ourselves to blame. 

This year’s General Election is a defining moment for Kenya. This is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us, as citizens, needs to determine just who it is that we are, just what it is that we stand for — we need to vote because our democracy and living conditions after elections depend on it. Let’s be the generation that makes ourselves and future generations proud of what we did.

The leaders that we vote for determine our lives for the next five years and beyond. We have to stop looking at elections as an event, but rather, as a serious leadership and governance process that will impact our lives and the economy. 

August’s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime. Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different. The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire. And it’s not as if we haven’t had big elections before or big choices to make in our history. 

You’ve got to vote. When you vote, you’ve got the power to make it easier to create more jobs for the youth, and bring down the cost of living. Employment is on the ballot, cost of living is on the ballot, integrity is on the ballot. All the progress we made in the past years is on the ballot - democracy itself is on the ballot right now.

To make informed choices, the Kenyans especially the youth must question political parties and candidates. What does this political party or candidate stand for? What policy ideas does a political party or candidate present to us? Will they, if implemented, make Kenya better? Will they promote the interests of Kenyans and young people? Are the promises hollow? These are crucial questions.

Over the years, the political class has used young people to add to their voter numbers. This only leaves the youth crying over empty promises about employment creation, reduced cost of living and a good business environment. 

Elections have a serious impact, especially if the youth waste the opportunity to get the right people into leadership. Citizens especially the youth seem to miss the point that without getting the right people into leadership positions, Kenya cannot move forward. 

Kenyan youths miss out on such opportunities because they do not vote in an informed manner. The youth have not crafted strategies to participate effectively in elections to influence policies.  

The obvious one is the quality of leaders we vote into office. If we vote for the wrong people, we get the wrong results. We cannot plant cactus and expect to reap mangoes. If we vote for people for the wrong reasons, we have no reason to question the policy outcomes in future.

Good laws and good policies come as a result of good leadership. That is why we need to engage ourselves meaningfully in the electoral process. Do not be deceived, we reap what we sow.

— The writer is a Public Policy Analyst — [email protected] 

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