By Charles Ochieng’ – Programs Officer, Youth and Gender
With the ongoing voter registration at the home stretch, it is worrying that there is serious voter registration apathy among the young people who make 75% + of the Kenyan population going by the latest data from the census of 2019 by the National Bureau of Statistics [KNBS]. This is a critical constituency in this coming general election and of course, they do have an opportunity to make a point in it, either positively or negatively depending on how they conduct themselves during this time of the ongoing voter registration and eventually during the general election. The Independent Election and Boundary Commission [IEBC] targets around six million new voters by the end of the ongoing mass voter registration, but so far, they only have slightly below one million voters added into their database.
In my earlier article entitled: The young people have got no option but to actively engage in politics, I did emphasize and I quote ‘As we prepare for the plebiscite next year, it is incumbent upon the young people of this wonderful country to keenly take cognizance of the fact that their continued discomfort with politics and political discourse in this country will not be treated kindly by the well-meaning Kenyan people’. Young people must realize thatthe world is not a level playing field and will never be in the near future, they need to create their own spaces and make them work and in this election, they have an opportunity to do so. A few young people I have had an opportunity to interact with and engage through chitchat, have put it to me that, they are hopeless of the government that promises a lot and do little and they see the statuesque remaining the same even if they come out to register and eventually vote in the coming general election. My advice to them was simple and candid; by not voting, you are in essence voting for the wrong choices that you have always wanted to change through your vote.
As we come to the closure of the mass voter registration, I humble request young people to come out and prove to the nay Sayers that, they can change their destiny for the better and this they shall only do through an electoral process and in the words of the former chief justice, David Maraga, an election is not an event but a process.