Doing away with universal suffrage will cut off leaders

Wednesday March 18 2020

Voters queue at Ziwa La Ngombe Primary School

Voters queue at Ziwa La Ngombe Primary School polling centre in the southern city of Mombasa on August 8, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NERIMA WAKO-OJIWA
By NERIMA WAKO-OJIWA
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As the Building Bridges Initiative task force winds up collecting public views on its report, there are many Kenyans who have no clue what is contained in the 156-page document.

Perhaps because few copies were printed or Kenyans are not interested in the BBI proposals.

One of our interns was happy to say she opened the document, began to read, then fell asleep. This is telling.

While making his submissions about the report, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi proposed abolishing of universal suffrage and that political parties should pick the president and governors.

Let’s not get too excited about abolishing universal suffrage as we will bid good bye to women in leadership, because political party ownership is a boy’s club.

Muturi also proposed that political parties that fail to garner at least one seat in the National Assembly in an election be deregistered.

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As much as we have many briefcase political parties that become active during elections, there is need for tighter regulations on their registration, and also dormant status.

On the flipside, deregistration will kill choices for voters.

Some parties don’t do well in their first election simply because they’re not known by the public.

To excel in politics takes time. A new party cannot just win an election because politics is highly competitive.

We have a government that appears to act when there’s public outcry, like when a video circulated of a Chinese airline landing in the country and angry citizens protested on social media raising fears some passengers could be infected by the coronavirus.
Amid the Covid-19 threat, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the setting up of a 200-bed quarantine—which only took a week to complete.

There is something that we can learn from the youth at the moment.

The Universities Amendment Act, 2016, removed powers from students to elect their leadership directly. How are our universities now? A lot more peaceful?

The purpose of the law was to tame those who rose through the student politics ranks to hold political office, like a lawmaker who is in court for shooting a DJ in the neck at a nightclub. A bad apple is just a bad apple, doesn’t matter where .

Recently, students in Meru County destroyed property protesting the killing of their own.

A concern for the students has been lack of channels to air their frustrations. They don’t feel represented on matters that concern them.

That will be the future if we remove universal suffrage. The public will feel disconnected from their leaders.

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