According to the recent Ipos-Synovate study, Kenyans in rural areas are more aware of their legislators and also engage them more than those living in urban areas. This finding goes to show that urban dwellers are disinterested in their local politics, a surprising fact given the ever increasing rural to urban migration.
Article 1 of the constitution vests the sovereign power to the people of Kenya and therefore a disinterested citizenry gives out their power. This is unfortunate considering that most urban dwellers are considered more literate and shapers of public opinion.
The five largest cities and towns of Kenya: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret have a combined total of 47 constituencies and an approximate population of 8 million and are the major socio-economic hubs of the country. This economic power, that is partly determined and maintained by elected leaders through policy formulation and implementation needs to give urbanites more reason to engage leaders, and inform them on their priorities.
The study stated that the proportion of knowledge about MPs is higher in western Kenya, eastern Kenya, central Kenya, northeastern Kenya and Nyanza at between 89 and 81 per cent, against 59 per cent in Nairobi.
Voting in one’s rural constituency is the leading reason for non-participation in urban politics. Kenyans need to recognize that it is more helpful to vote where you live so that you can hold your leader to account when they fail. If urban areas become centres of leadership excellence by virtue of people therein being participative the change may also be embraced in rural areas.
Elected leaders who exercise our sovereignty in trust, have tremendous powers and responsibilities. To whom much is given, much is expected and this informs the reason why the public must keep their leaders on toes so as to deliver.
Parliamentarians are expected to legislate, exercise oversight and represent public interests. In all these mandates there is room for people to influence through public participation. In a democracy like Kenya’s it is the people who take charge of their country’s destiny.
Disinterest in politics is what is affirming mediocre leadership in Kenya. Most Kenyan Parliamentarians are urban dwellers, thus Kenyans in urban areas have more opportunity to engage them to further their local and rural interests. Easier access to internet offers more avenue for urbanites to engage their leaders and they therefore have no excuse of being apathetic.
In most cases it is the urbanites who use the internet to register their discontent in matters of governance. But it would be better if they knew their elected leaders first and address them before whining via social media which most of the times is inconsequential.
It is time to rethink our politics. Knowing the legislator is the first step. In addition, our website has most of their contacts and you can seek them out to hear your voice and address your concerns on issues tabled in Parliament. Good governance starts with you!