Only through voting can we secure the future we wish for

Saturday February 11 2017

Residents of Ganda in Kilifi queue to vote at Maziwani Primary School in the Malindi parliamentary by-election on March 7, 2016. PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Residents of Ganda in Kilifi queue to vote at Maziwani Primary School in the Malindi parliamentary by-election on March 7, 2016. PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES MWANGI
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The political pillar is one of the three cornerstones of Kenya’s Vision 2030. It focuses on moving to the future as one nation and sets out to achieve a democratic political system that is issue-based, people-centred, results oriented and accountable to the public.

An issue-based system is one that meets the widest public interest. “People-centred” refers to the responsiveness to the needs and rights of citizens, whose participation in all public policies and resources allocation processes is both fully appreciated and enabled.

A results-oriented system is stable, predictable and based on measurable outcomes. An accountable system is open, transparent and permits the free flow of information and is one in which the leaders are accountable to the citizens.

Kenya’s Vision 2030, therefore, envisions a country where both the government and its citizens play active roles to ensure and continuously evolve the democratic space. In this regard, the government has achieved key milestones in ensuring that Kenyans continue to enjoy the benefits of democracy.

In 2010, when the new Constitution was promulgated, Kenya made a strong statement about its commitment to building a free and fair democratic society that respects individual liberties, freedom of speech, association and worship and the rule of law. Today, Kenya is one of the few African nations whose citizens enjoy freedom of speech, assembly, association and worship.

We have a functional Judiciary and Legislature. The devolved government has further taken power of self-governance closer to the people. But, as individuals, we have a role to make what we have even better. Abraham Lincoln described democracy as a government of the people, by the people, for the people. This is why the role of every individual citizen is central in a democracy. Collectively, we have a role to play in ensuring the continuous evolution of the democratic space in our country.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The Vision 2030 political pillar has several guiding principles. One of them is the constitutional reform that led to the promulgation of the current Constitution.

The Vision also prioritises sovereignty. This principle states, “… the Constitution will be guaranteed by an acknowledgement that the government derives its power from the people.”

The independence of the Judiciary, freedom of press, freedom of speech and association are some of the freedoms that give power to the people. But the power of the ballot is perhaps the single largest form of power that every Kenyan who is 18 and above has been given to control their destiny. If we think about it, the vote is such a strong instrument of governance in our hands that we should use to shape government, governance and safeguard our democracy.

The success of Vision 2030 depends on an open and participatory political process. Through voting, every Kenyan exercises the right to elect political leaders of their choice.

In an issue driven, democratic society, leaders reach out to the electorate and elaborate their political ideology. They make their commitments on how they will improve the standards of living of the electorate through policy.

The electorate listens to these views and makes the choices of the political leaders they feel best suits the various political offices. The choice of the quality of leaders we put in the office rests on ordinary ballot-casting Kenyans.

WE MUST

This is why we must all register to vote and exercise the right to vote during the forthcoming elections. Anyone who fails this noble duty is guilty of denying self and future generations the assurance of a better Kenya.

It is, therefore, of paramount importance that we elect leaders who carry the fate of our nation in their hearts through the commitment and their track record. We can only do this if we accept to come out and register as voters, and then to cast votes on Election Day.

Vision 2030 envisions that a politically mature nation, achieved through giving Kenyans the right to participate in governance, will ensure a peaceful nation where everyone will have the freedom to dream and pursue those social, political and economic dreams in a free and fair environment safeguarded by a democratic political dispensation.

We can only play a strong political or economic role in the world if our political backbone is strong. Every eligible Kenyan has a duty to participate in political decision-making by registering to vote and actually voting during elections because this is the only way to secure the future that we wish for ourselves and our beloved nation.

James Mwangi is chief executive officer, Equity Group and chairman, Vision 2030 Delivery Board.