Respect electoral processes to protect the economy
Wednesday, December 8th, 2021
- Kenya is one of the top countries in Africa, whose electoral processes and consequences are important for the rest of the world.
- The last two 2010 constitutional elections have shown a dangerous trend towards a lack of respect for the electoral body.
Elections in Africa, for the most part, are political and economic tests, and the polls scheduled for 2022 in Kenya will be no exception.
Kenya is one of the top countries in Africa, whose electoral processes and consequences are important for the rest of the world.
This is due to the size of the economy, strategic partnerships with the West, and the democratic moves made possible through a progressive 2010 Constitution.
And true to the bill, the polls have started to test the democratic spaces that have been won so far and that are supported by the various electoral actors, including the most important representative of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The last two 2010 constitutional elections have shown a dangerous trend towards a lack of respect for the electoral body. The current debate among major political actors over who should oversee preparations for the 2022 elections only points to the dilemma the country is facing.
When politicians take a stand on this issue, we risk a poisoned electoral environment in which the losers blame the referee and the winner deserves the whole win.
Over time, part of the challenge for Kenya, and indeed Africa, has been the “winner takes all” stance that is responsible for the competitions and the chaos that follows election decisions.
An ideal process in our case should be surveys that help us to achieve democracy together, strengthen our institutions and anchor constitutionalism as an architectural masterpiece. In the run-up to the 2022 polls, the economy is likely to take a hit.
We do not have enough evidence that campaign time in Kenya is the safest nest for the economy to thrive.
There is a threat to the economy that has weathered the Covid-19 storm that has contributed to lost income for households and the government.
Perhaps the reason why this poll is so critical is that it will be a test of resilience and the recovery measures put in place by the government through various stimulus plans.
In its latest economic forecast, the central bank of Kenya set a robust six percent growth rate for 2022.
This bullish forecast is based on the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions that were in place and contributed to the economic collapse.
The banking regulator’s forecast did not anticipate any high-octane political activity that is likely to redeem any post-Covid economic advances. In addition, it is not clear whether current policies of economic recovery will last beyond the polls.
All of the presidential candidates have already promised major social safety nets that will require serious financial planning and investment if put into practice.
Such a social protection and reform pledge, most of which falls under the first 100 days of office, will only keep the economy from slowing as the political heat engulfs much of the national discussion.
For an upbeat economy, investor confidence will be critical to increasing the number of business centers and incubation centers and allowing trade to flourish not only within the country but also regionally, despite the high-profile elections.
If Kenyans vote, the ultimate goal should therefore be to make more progress in securing and entrenching constitutionalism and to participate in inclusive elections that help advance nationalism and a culture of integrity in elections.
In addition, we must aim to reduce the inherent political risk, which unfortunately peaks every electoral cycle.
Political cycles must not be the basis for the country’s economic growth to slow.
Benjamin Obegi, journalist in Nairobi