• By 2038, Kenya is foretold to commence redeeming her 40 years of demographic dividend.
• As a commensurate milestone young people must double their current 21 per cent presence in the county assemblies.
Youth voter apathy was a eminent concern in the run-up to Kenya's August 9, 2022 polls.
Elections stakeholders sounded caution with the certainty of the consequences of a 5.27 per cent decline in young people's sign-up. At that point, it looked like the country was drawing up for an election of the youth, by the youth, and for the youth. The situation looked dreadful. However, the number of young voters enlisted stood at 1.62 million above President William Ruto's winning numbers.
Fast forward, the referee, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has published a prejudiced post-election evaluation report. The term youth conservatively is employed in the 184 paged chronicle.
What is more, in its key recommendations, the commission singled out 11 thematic areas bearing 15 specific issues. None of these had anything to do with the young people. This sharply contrasts the joint National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute observer exhortation which emphasized inclusivity and up-scaling Youth, Women and persons with disability participation.
The omission by IEBC thus far is an unpleasant but succinct synopsis of the role of the youth in our elections. A conveyor whose utility diminishes at the ballot.
The conduct of poll winners at the national and sub-national governments corroborates IEBC's account. Administrations are formed without the youth or peripheral inclusion if any.
As a key player in the last general election initially, as a senatorial candidate in the primaries and significantly as the national youth team leader in the Azimio la Umoja presidential campaigns, I have deeply reflected on the place of the youth visa vis political involvement. Young people must rethink their engagement to shape the future as follows;
Foremost, when you endorse a political cause, do so with the conviction that your choice furthers the welfare of the wider society. Importantly, use the platform to unequivocally advance the interests of the forgotten bottom millions-predominantly youth. If you miss the target strategies without over-reliance on election winners. Like the IEBC, they forget about you immediately.
Second, the average age of Kenya's Cabinet is estimated at 54, only one year and two months younger than the President. None of the Cabinet secretaries nor the auxiliary members are youth.
Comparably, only one out of the 51 principal secretaries is under 35 years. Uniformly, the shortlisted candidates for Cabinet Administrative Secretaries are dominated by usual suspects that lost elections. Your guess is conclusive. Regrettably, the plot is duplicated in counties. Only a handful of progressive governors devoting executive-level and decision-making roles to the youth.
Third, there are just two definitive youth nomination slots reserved in the Senate. The rest 16, like in the national and county assemblies, are gender top-ups. Limited PWD slots are available. Majority nominated women are out of the youth bracket. The party list is the proverbial eye of a needle.
The fourth is promising statistics by IEBC. Women and the younger generations are increasingly successful in recent elections. In 2017, three of nine women who ran for gubernatorial elections won posting a 33 per cent success rate against male counterparts recording 21 per cent.
Governor Stephen Sang, then 32, solely accounted for 14 per cent ( one of seven) efficiency on the part of the youth. Last year, women improved their quota at the Council of Governors to seven as a result of 22 of them daring at the ballot.
However, the youth stack at one having increased their candidature by a marginal one candidate from 2017. Gladly, 30 more young people were elected as MCAs in 2022 up from 287 in 2017 following an upsurge of 778 youth on the ballot for the same role.
Young women under 35 also claimed five of the 47 gender-specific elective seats in counties up from the previous three. This is attributed to nearly double aggression from 35 to 63 aspirants in the two successive elections.
Lastly and most tangible, IEBC upholds that young people under 35 are still the majority registered voters assuming 40% while chaps aged 25-29 years account for the largest cluster. This status quo will manifest in the future. The youth remain on their own! Kenya's generation z must show up more on the ballot than elsewhere.
By 2038, Kenya is foretold to commence redeeming her 40 years of demographic dividend. As a commensurate milestone young people must double their current 21 per cent presence in the county assemblies.
They must control a third of counties in the senate and gubernatorial elections and win the deputy president's seat. It is then that politicians, IEBC, and elections stakeholders will give due reverence to the Kenyan youth.
Philip Pande is an economist and governance analyst