Your rights depend on who you vote for tomorrow

Monday, August 8th, 2022 03:19 | By
Kenyans line up to cast their votse in a past election. PHOTO/File

The General Election is finally here and the question on many people’s minds is: Will I vote and I if do, whom do I vote for?

Every time I speak about elections, especially to the younger generation, the question I always get is why should I? Most of the youth do not appreciate the link between their vote and the enjoyment of their human rights after election. Voter apathy is perhaps at its highest if IEBC statistics on this year’s voter registration are anything to go by.

We are all just recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic that left many jobless. The cost of living is at its highest with the prices of basic commodities such as unga, milk and bread inaccessible to many.

Many are unhappy about the entire political process that they don’t see the need to vote.

I will give you reasons why you should exercise your duty to vote, and that indeed, elections provide a beacon of hope for our country.

First, our Constitution anchors itself on bestowing power to the people. Indeed, the first article is clear on the sovereign power belonging to the people who may exercise it directly or through elected representatives.

Politicians know too well this power that the people hold, and that is why they have been camping at every gathering, funeral, church service and roadside rallies seeking your support.

A lot has been said on the campaign trail. Some politicians resorted to uncouth methods of trying to sway the votes including bribery, threats and intimidation. But when all is said and done, only you have the power to choose whom to vote for tomorrow.

Secondly, by voting, you transfer part of your power to leaders so that they can represent you and your needs. Elected leaders play critical roles that shape the development of our nation. Leaders enact laws that will determine how well the quality of your life will be. These include your ability to access basic needs like healthcare, housing, adequate food, clean and safe water, social security and quality education.

The laws and policies that they enact can provide a conducive environment for small enterprises to thrive, empower women, youth, persons with disabilities, and intersex persons to access equal opportunities, and lift up parts of our country that are marginalised.

Thirdly, the leaders you chose can stop the vices that are currently ravishing our nation, with corruption topping the list. Corruption is the ultimate violation of human rights as it rids the people of their entitlements as humans.

We need to vote in leaders bold enough to stop the cycle of corruption and call for accountability. We need to see those who have embezzled and squandered millions from the public coffers behind bars for many years. We need a leader who will put their foot down and have zero tolerance for corruption. The right leaders can do all these and turn around our public service and infrastructure to work for the people.

Tomorrow, join the queue and cast your vote. Scrutinise carefully the choices on the ballot paper, and ask yourself, are they prioritising your needs, and do they deserve your sovereign power?

Your ballot is sacred and private hence no one can force you to cast a vote in their favour. Only you have the ultimate power. Vote, not on ethnic or regional lines, but on the conviction that the person is deserving of your power and will represent your needs in the next five years. Vote wisely!

—Anne Okutoyi is a Director at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya

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