As the election draws near, campaigns intensify. Synonymous with these campaigns are hand outs, usually a couple of hundred shillings used to lure the public to campaign rallies to create the air of support for a candidate. Unfortunately, the electorate now expects these hand outs whenever they attend a campaign rally and thus pay little to no attention to the policies of the candidate in question. The richer the candidate is perceived to be the larger the crowd at his or her campaign rallies.
The problem with this culture is two fold. First, it masks the unsuitability of candidates for the position they are vying for. A rich candidate, may get elected due to his or her financial ability and not their qualifications. The candidate in question may not have any plan nor desire to solve the problems that bedevil his or her potential constituents. They may be driven by selfish interests, the donations, an investment which they hope to see a return on during their tenure, occasioning the looting of public coffers. Consequently, the electorate is impoverished.
Secondly, these handouts and the expectation of the handouts have promoted the justification of a political existence with no track record of service or accountability. Competent candidates with sound policies that can resolve the issues that bedevil his or her potential constituents is likely to attract a very small crowd if he or she lacks the financial means to appease the masses. Resultantly, they are denied the opportunity to share their policies with the broader electorate. Ultimately the richer, less competent candidate with no track record of service or accountability gets elected and the cycle continues. The political elite recognize that an impoverished electorate is more likely to sell its vote and so they insist on keeping us poor as it favors their incompetence and allows them to hold on to power.
It is time to break this tragic cycle. We must take ownership of our politics and exercise our right to vote responsibly by electing competent, honest and just leaders who are worthy of the ‘honorable’ title so many politicians insist upon. We must reform the campaign space to be an avenue for interrogating the integrity and track records of candidates to decide whether they are worthy of a second chance or a chance at all.
This tragic cycle will continue and an already bad situation will get worse unless we take ownership of our right to vote and remind politicians that our votes are not for sale and if you want to get elected you must be an ethical person who we can trust with the responsibilities of leadership. Additionally, you must have a desire and a plan to resolve the difficulties we face and an unwavering commitment to democracy and the rule of law as well as an economic agenda that incorporates and benefits everyone in the country.
‘DO NOT SELL YOUR VOTE, VOTE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE’