, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 3 – A study commissioned by civil society group Youth Agenda shows that close to one million youths aged between 18 and 25 years are unlikely to cast their ballots in the March 4 elections unless they are bribed.
Even then, a contestant giving the youth money to vote is not a guarantee they will participate in the elections, with half of them saying they will still not turn up to vote, study coordinator George Ojiema revealed.
“Some just register to get favours but they do not actually vote on the material day,” he revealed.
Releasing the findings in the report dubbed ‘Status of Youth Preparedness in Kenya’s electoral process’ Ojiema said another million will not vote on account of the post election violence experienced in 2008.
“Voter apathy was evident in cosmopolitan counties like Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret and Nakuru where 21 percent said they are not going to vote for fear of the violence seen in the last elections.”
“Twenty one percent of 5.9 million voters – that is the population of the youth who can vote – is a very significant portion,” said Ojiema.
Two million youths who have yet to receive their identification cards risk missing out on the elections with the majority of those who have theirs saying it took them between three and six months to get them.
Even given these odds Youth Agenda Chief Executive Officer Susan Kariuki does not support Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo’s move to allow those with waiting cards to vote.
“I would not support that process for now; it can bring out some challenges in future. We all know that Kenyans are not reliable people in terms of doing the right thing; we might find people using fake waiting cards,” she cautioned.
Leonard Nangole an officer with the Ministry of Immigration was however adamant that his ministry was not solely responsible for the debacle surrounding identification cards and voting.
“As at Friday the department had 389,001 uncollected identity cards. The highest areas are Nairobi with 91,000, Rift Valley with 87,000 and Eastern with 46,000.”
The Registrar of Political Parties was accused by Kariuki for impeding the participation of youth in politics.
“That office is not doing what it’s supposed to be doing. It’s supposed to be sanctioning those who are not doing the right thing. The blame is being shifted on there not being a substantive registrar.”
“In our view this is intended… this is planned so the office can be weak. We will not have fair party nominations and this will lock out the youth who have no money to influence anybody!” she complained.
The Orange Democratic Movement was found to be the most popular political party among the youth followed by The National Alliance (TNA) in the nationwide study that excluded Northern Kenya due to insecurity there.
Ojiema added that according to the study carried out last month, 600,000 youths will not vote should the International Criminal Court proceedings against TNA party leader Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto of URP be used to bar them from vying for the presidency.
“Initially people thought the ICC issue has not been embraced by the youth but look at the 10 percent. In as much as the government wants the judicial process to take course, it is something that can create chaos and despondency.”