A section of Kenyan youth have urged voters to look beyond their tribes and vote for a leader who can develop the country and provide the needed jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.
They say blindly voting along tribal lines would not deliver the infrastructure the country needs or stamp out corruption that they believe is robbing the country of the needed development. They maintain that competing along tribal lines rather than competence has been the biggest threat to Kenya’s democracy.
Many Kenyans believe the tribal card in politics won’t go away anytime soon. Going into the August 8 elections, the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta is heavily depending on Kikuyus and Kalenjins, who were locked in the post 2007 election violence, to retain the reins of government. Raila Odinga also leans heavily on the Luos, Luhyas as well as other minority tribes in his bid to upstage his opponent in next week’s polls.
Speaking to EIB Network’s International Correspondent, Kobby Gomez-Mensah in a recent discussion at Kenyatta University, Fannies, a first-time voter, said tribal politics is the reason for the current food shortages in the country. She said Kenya is endowed with arable land and human resources to till the land, but due to poor leadership there’s no sugar and flour in the shops, leaving many Kenyans hungry.
“I want Kenyans to for once look beyond their tribes and vote for a candidate who will develop this country. Look at the manifesto the Jubilee Party presented in the last elections, how many of those promises were achieved?” She questioned.
Another millennial, George, also a first time voter in the same discussion said there’s not much difference among the candidates in next week’s elections. He said most of those challenging the incumbent have been in national leadership in the past but their performance have been far from what Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto have delivered over the last five years.
“In the next five years when some of us are ready for leadership, this country could then be producing leader’s who may not be as corrupt as those seeking to lead Kenya now. Even though Kenya was supposed to devolve its governance, what was devolved was rather corruption from central government to county government,” he stressed.
James Kwerche, another young voter, appealed to Kenyans to shun the leading parties and vote for a third party. He said that is the only way true change would occur because not much will change in the event of either President Kenyatta or his closest challenger, Mr Odinga wins the election.
“There are good candidates. Abduba Dida is clean compared to all the other candidates therefore we should be thinking of voting for him and not those known to be involved in corruption in the past,” he said.
In another discussion at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, a student of Agric Economics, Kevin, challenged his fellow youth to choose a leader in next week’s elections who will improve the economy and secure their future.
“The next leader must encourage entrepreneurship among the youth rather than the focus on non-existent white collar jobs. Government must support graduates with capital and create the needed linkages for produce of entrepreneurship to be sold with other countries to prevent glut,” he said.
Another student, Oscar, said beyond next week’s elections the leaders need to focus on addressing the high rate of youth unemployment in the country and thus, they must ensure that the ballot is peaceful.
“The actions of those seeking to lead Kenya in these elections will live with us for a long time, therefore they must ensure Kenya remains peaceful after the elections. I want the young people to know that Kenya is the only country we have so we must not allow ourselves to be used to disrupt the peace in the country,” he urged.
The interviewees were divided mainly along the two dominant parties, Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance. But many analysts have described next week’s polls as a close contest between Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, and the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta.
Campaigns in Kenya ahead of next week’s elections have reached a top gear. Whoever wins the elections has a wide array of expectations to meet, key among them offering jobs to the the masses of unemployed youth.