Why don’t you look for a part time job to keep you busy? I ask standing at the doorway. “Because I don’t need it” Jack shouts back confidently. ”It’s almost election time, money will be everywhere in plenty”.
Elections is a time where we choose a leader who can move the country to the next level, and maybe, kill the giant corruption that is swindling billions from the taxpayer. For others, election period is a ‘money making season’. That is the period to stuff your pockets with good old ‘Kenyatta’ paper in exchange for seemingly small favors.Where people vote, vote buying tends to follow. In fact,according to some scholars “it is a growing barter trade business that is attracting massive ‘investors’.”
Jack Sweta a 24-year-old graduate lives in a bed sitter in South B where he pays 20,000 shillings per month. After searching for employment for two years without success he chose to start his own entertainment company, nonetheless, the search for financiers bore no fruits.
“Election time is business time” he starts. There is no season in Kenya where money is looking for you like that one”. “I made 10,000 in two days during the last election period. I won’t say how but just like that. It is a harmless interaction.” He confesses.
In 2013 Kenya Human Rights Commission released a video footage that appears to show a prominent politician giving a speech promising jobs, food security, funding for women and youth groups, then leaves a bundle of cash with one of the young people in the group, giving instructions that it be shared among the rest.
Why are youth always targetted by politicians?
“We need the money, everybody is asking for 5 years’ experience, 3 years’ experience…tutaitoa wapi na tumetoka tu shule? Nick Ochieng,Kabarak University graduate laments. Ken Gichuhi, a student at Daystar University shares similar sentiments. “I don’t know where to get ‘experience’ is it a person or do you buy it? I don’t understand.”
In its follow-up report, KHRC said: “a significant number of positive steps have been and continue to be undertaken towards securing a free, fair and peaceful election” – but bribery, violence and intimidation, have been observed across the country during election time.
The politicians target the youth. It is not a game of ‘pata-potea na voter’ it is a well-planned strategy. Vote buying is a type of clientelism—the distribution of material things with the expectation of political support. If you thought that people vote in leaders because of their manifestos and ideological appeals, guess again. It’s all about the money.
“They see the struggle that the youth face and provide a quick solution”. Says Rhoda, an operations manager at an orphanage in Athi River. ‘Young people like quick money schemes and they (politicians) know that’. She concludes.
The trade is simple, “I give you notes, you give me votes.” Notes for Votes. A harmless interaction. Is it really? Scholars have noted that this an effect on the economy and to undermine political democracy and equality.It’s the devil’s bargain. The country’s economy drastically diminishes, brilliant minds are left jobless, and youth institutions are embezzled and eventually collapse. We need to realize that the election period is a time where we decide what our future will look like. Don’t sell out, at the expense of the nation’s stability.
This article was written by Capital Campus Contributor Beryl Chebet.