I Will Never Vote Again

Yes, that is correct; you did not misread it.

I will never vote again.

In case you are wondering, this is not about me. I did not say these words, but many have both verbally and on social media. This is the aftermath of the most recently concluded 2017 elections in The Democratic Republic of Kenya. On many levels, a lot of people feel aggrieved that there were election malpractices all round, but none like at the presidential level. To quote Wavinya Ndeti’s latest, there was a lot of ‘thievery’ according to a lot of Kenyans who voted for Raila Odinga, who was the main and closest contender for the presidency alongside Uhuru Kenyatta.

According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta acquired 54% of the total votes cast, thus beating the other candidates, including his closest competitor. Naturally, and to be expected, the six million Kenyans who voted for Raila felt that there were plenty of electoral malpractices by the IEBC. The opposition, spearheaded by Raila, claimed that according to their parallel tallying centre, Raila was the one who was in fact ahead of Uhuru. The opposition claimed that the IEBC systems were hacked and votes manipulated.

While it was not as bad as the 2007 post-election violence, some parts of Kenya decided to demonstrate against the result, most notably Kisumu, Raila Odinga’s backyard. The protesters engaged the police and deaths were reported. This was also the case in some parts of Kenya where a six-month-old baby was reportedly beaten by police until she succumbed to her injuries in the course of this week. Her name was Pendo. It means love in Swahili. May God rest Pendo in peace. (Moment of silence for Pendo)

Millennials and the enlightened, true to their nature, did not engage in acts of violence, at least not physically anyway. They did what they do best, which was go on social media and make their thoughts known to the world. The message was simple. The IEBC has been compromised and Kenya is not a democratic republic. As such, it’s pointless to go and vote because the future of the nation has already been decided by those in power. Besides, what is the point in voting for a president anyway? He doesn’t affect my life directly, so it is okay if I do not vote.

Logically speaking, if it is indeed true that the future presidents of this nation are already known, then there is no point in voting. It is a waste of time. Yes, that is correct, that is a logical conclusion if, and only if, one is certain of that simple statement. It would be wisdom to simply embark on other beneficial activities than waste the entire day doing something utterly useless.

Let me examine that statement from the other side. What if those votes were not manipulated and Uhuru did, in fact, win fairly as the IEBC announced? Should we still hold on to the wrongful assumption that the votes were manipulated? Should we not go out and vote next time? I have seen Raila supporters say that Uhuru did a much more elaborate campaign than Raila and he won.

Next, let us examine the other major player, which is none other than the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The body mandated by the Constitution to conduct the elections and announce the results. A lot of people argue that the commission isn’t ad independent as it should be. The evidence, based on the past and present events, would support this theory. That the IEBC is incapable of holding a credible election and that it is taking Kenyans for a ride. From names of deceased voters in the voting register to unanswered questions on excess ballot papers printed. From shady printing companies and erroneous announcements made on live television and unrealistic results. The IEBC has lost all credibility. Take one example, for instance, Mombasa County did not have a single spoiled vote. Common sense and statistics tell us that it’s impossible. This is a perfect score, and it just doesn’t exist in reality. Take another example, the IEBC chairman making corrections to the form with the final results on national television or him reading erroneous figures of the registered voters. Make no mistake, I am not advocating for either side here. I am simply laying out the facts.

In my opinion, one person nailed it on Facebook. I am not going to quote him, but he said something brilliant and backward in equal measure. He said that he knows who the president of this nation is going to be after the next two general elections. He also added that despite this knowledge, he would still go out to vote fully knowing that his presidential candidate is going to lose and that he would never vote for people from particular tribes. Like I said earlier, brilliant and backwards in equal measure. He is never going to relinquish his Democratic and sacred right to go out, brave the weather, and vote for the leaders he believes in. He loses the plot when he says he knows the next president and that he will not vote for a particular tribe.

Voting is sacred and no one should give it up. People should not give up just because they feel aggrieved. Voting peacefully is the only way to realize change. We should not give it up at all costs. The future generations need to grow up knowing this. Of course, changes have to be made to the IEBC because at the moment, I speak for a lot of people that it is not trusted at all.

In the words of Michelle Obama during the Democratic convention in 2016 before the US elections “We cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical.” As Kenyans, we need to get out, we need to show up and vote for our leaders as is our right and duty. We cannot take a backstage role, we cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope that everything works out for the best.

Ferdinand Bada
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