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Opinion & Analysis

Have voters lost faith in power of the ballot?

Young people are increasingly becoming frustrated with the lack of jobs; corrupt systems; and generally lack of development. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Young people are increasingly becoming frustrated with the lack of jobs; corrupt systems; and generally lack of development. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

In the past Africa has been enjoying high voter turnout in elections. Voting is seen as the basic way that Africans will be able to determine the nature of their governments and this has resulted in huge voter turnout in most countries, with the average being over 66 per cent which is much higher than in most developed countries.

As an example, in the just- concluded US elections the voter turnout was about of 58 per cent. When compared with Africa’s past record, some countries such as Sierra Leone have enjoyed a turnout of more than 78 per cent.

But things are changing mainly due to the young people who are increasingly becoming frustrated with the lack of jobs; corrupt systems; and generally lack of development.

A point in case is Kenya. In the last one month, all the political heavyweights have been burning the midnight oil working on the strategies to have many more Kenyans register as voters in readiness for the August 8 General Election.

The clearest indication is that the objective has not been fully achieved as there are still millions of Kenyans who are not registered. What politicians should be asking themselves at this stage is what the fundamental issues are.

Voting in a democratic nation is the basic way that citizens are able to determine the nature of their government.

This definition does not seem right in Kenya and especially so from the assessment of the voters’ register where there are still millions who are not willing to take the opportunity to determine their government. This is a challenge for all the politicians in both the ruling Jubilee party as well as the opposition Nasa coalition.

There is need for the leadership of the parties to go back to the drawing board and figure out what went wrong and how to address it in the coming months.

This is critical at this stage as the next step for the political parties will be to develop party manifestos. The manifestos form the blueprint that will help them get elected into power.

The manifestos will provide the party’s vision and there is need for the citizenry to comb through the same to ensure they elect the most suitable party that present the best agenda for the country in terms of development.

African governments must secure enough investment in the continent and at the same time ensure that the macro-economic stability is maintained.

Interest rates as well as the exchanges rates are the key elements that must be aligned to ensure that government funding is not curtailing the access to finance for the private sector.

Public-private partnership will need to be the model of implementation that will help the continent to move to the next level especially on the infrastructure front.

The government should also provide enough funding for education and ensure that there are sufficient investments in human resources as it is only through a skilled labour force that a country can develop.

Provision of enabling environment by governments will enable the private sector to engage in the best way to deliver sustainable development in Africa.

This should be done though various incentives as well as through regulations to ensure sanity in the way business is done especially in this era of global development goals.

Government should also maintain transparent economic systems that are corruption-proof, for graft is one of the biggest menaces facing the continent.

Sustainable development should be the main objective and governments need to come up with ways that will result in more disposable incomes for their citizens. Variation in inequality in incomes in households and individuals is one key indicator of sustainable development.

In Africa, there are fantastically few rich and the rest of the continent is extremely poor. The government must put in place mechanisms to reduce the inequality gaps.

Majority of the people being poor, they must come out to exercise their voting rights so that they can put in place a government that can address the disparity in incomes and hence provide a sustainable future for the masses.

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