NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – Civil society groups have expressed concern that a number of Kenyans do not know the different roles their elected leaders will play and cannot therefore hold them accountable.
The Executive Director of the Centre for Governance and Development, Kennedy Masime, says the campaigns demonstrated that this lack of knowledge extends to the leaders themselves.
“We got a new Constitution two years ago and there has hardly been any civic education. I witnessed the launch of campaigns and you could actually swap one for the other; from what they said they wanted to achieve, you could not tell whether they wanted to be governor or senator and vice versa,” he said.
A spot-check by Capital FM News confirmed that there are indeed Kenyans who voted but did so unclear as to the different roles their leaders will play.
“You see, I didn’t get time to know what it was exactly they were supposed to do. Since we had to vote, I just voted in the ones I thought can do the job, but I don’t know which job,” Rose Muthengi, a multi-level marketer, told Capital FM News.
William Odhiambo, a retired medical officer, was confident he knew what would be required of the National Assembly representatives but was not quite sure about the roles of senator and governor.
“The roles of the senator and governor are confusing because they both belong to the county. When they sit there, who is the boss of who?”
Mohammed Ali, a businessman, is not too concerned about what work his elected leaders will undertake; his worry is that they will fleece the Kenyan tax payer as has been the case in the past.
“These are same people who have been getting into office all these years; their titles might be different but the story will be the same.”
The ignorance, the Executive Director of the Institute for Education in Democracy Peter Alingo says, will only change once additional civic education is carried out.
“There is need for them to be taught so they understand fully what the roles are. These are servants of the citizens and the only people who can hold them accountable are the citizens and you can only do that if you are able to know exactly what they are going to do.”
The civic education that was carried out prior to the March 4 General Election, Alingo says, was drowned out by political campaigns and was targeted toward the voting exercise.
“When voter education around these issues began, campaigns were already happening. Therefore there was hardly any room to educate Kenyans on some of these things and they still don’t know.”