|This is how to avoid future electoral crisis|
|Monday, 06 February 2012 14:11|
This is how to avoid future electoral crisis
The International Criminal Court has finally confirmed four of the six cases the prosecutor submitted to the pre-trial chamber, ending the anxiety that had gripped the country since the process began last year.
Supporters of the suspects, two of whom are in the presidential race, received the news with a lot of sobriety, an indication that Kenya have learned a few lessons from the post-election violence.
But for this to be confirmed, Civic education is requires to ensure free, fair and peaceful election. A proper civic education programme is required to deal with voter apathy, and to inculcate a culture in which competitive politics is entrenched in the minds of both contestants and voters.
Going by the recent Orange Democratic Party (ODM) elections, it is clear that competitive politics remains a mirage, and the seeds of violence and intimidation sown in the past are still flourishing.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the body mandated to carry out civic education, is already overwhelmed, and it may be unable to accommodate any meaningful civic education programmes in its crowded schedule.
Considering this limitation, the IEBC should invite other institutions to run an effective civic education programme. Most important, it should collaborate with credible civil society organizations that are non-partisan to educate the masses.
We can learn from previous initiative undertaken by civil society such as the clamour for any new constitution.
Initiatives like the Coalition of Citizen for Constitutional Change ( 4Cs), Ufungamano Initiatives, National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) and the Constitution Reform Education Consortium ( CRECO), were able to reach the masses using networks that can easily be rejuvenated especially at this time when the focus is on reconciliation.
The IEBC should also develop a strong partnership with the media to help carry out civic education.
The media have played a significant role in the transformation Kenya has experienced in the past two decades. Already politicians are engaged in charged campaigns and aggressive to woo voters. Without civic education, they will take advantage of the voters to advance narrow agendas.
The new Constitution completely transformed the voting process. With devolution, voter are expected to elect visionary leaders, hence the need for a well- informed citizenry.
If we do nothing about civic education and instead allow politicians to mislead voters as in the past, the country will be polarised, a major contributor to the 2007 post-election violence.
Kenya needs information to participate effectively in elections to participate effectively in election and thus avoid the challenges that have marred previous ones.