Youth leaders representing various community groups and organizations from around the country have signed the Mkenya Daima Leadership and Peace Pledge, committing themselves and their members to maintaining peace in their electioneering conduct before, during and after the general elections on August 9th, 2022.
Over one hundred youth, including university student leaders, participants from the informal settlements in Nairobi as well as representatives from Nakuru, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and other counties, came together during the Mkenya Daima Youth Leadership Forum held earlier this week in Nairobi. The meeting was part of the ongoing stakeholder engagement by the Mkenya Daima Initiative.
Speakers at the event challenged the young leaders not to surrender political platforms to the politicians but to speak up on issues of poor leadership to drive the change they want to see in their localities.
Duncan Mochama, a Member of the Mkenya Daima Steering Committee representing the youth, urged the society at large to appreciate and amplify youth and community activities around peacebuilding and positive political participation while reminding the youth to be accountable for electing good leaders at the ballot.
“It is not enough to just support your chosen candidates, but the youth must take charge through their collective voting power by insisting on honest and transparent leaders who will serve the interests of the youth. We must also go further to hold the elected leaders accountable to deliver on their campaign promises,” he said.
The forum sought to encourage the youth to practice good relations, harmony, and peaceful co-existence before, during and after the August 2022 general elections. Discussants spoke of the role of young people in delivering peaceful elections, holding political leaders accountable as well as elections related Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Also speaking during the forum, Dr Vimal Shah, the Chair Mkenya Daima Steering Committee said, “This is a call for partnership with our young people with the singular goal of achieving peaceful elections and socio-economic prosperity afterwards. We need to encourage positive and constructive dialogues in our public and private spaces about the things that matter, and not just focus on personalities and popularity contests, especially among our young people.”
Calling for intentional probity by the electorate in choosing the right leaders, Dr Shah mentioned accountability, transparency, and an initiative-taking development agenda as critical factors Kenyans should interrogate in aspirants alongside their political party manifestos, to ensure elected leaders live up to what they promised.
He further urged the youth leaders to take up the responsibility of “Kukagua kabla ya kuchagua, Kupiga kura na Kudumisha Amani in line with the Mkenya Daima call of Nitatenda Wajibu Wangu”.
Shining a light on the aspect of election-related GBV, Mucha Mlingo, the Chair KEPSA Gender Sector Board called for the dismantling of societal practices that seem to normalize GBV while trivializing the long-term negative effects it has on society.
“We need to talk openly about how gender-based violence impacts society negatively. Gender-based violence takes different forms including Sexual, physical, social, and economic violence. Our objective as Mkenya Daima in engaging with the youth today and in the future is to change the political, social, and economic narratives and to build the country and her people, which includes addressing the causes and prevalence of election-related GBV.
Killian Nyambu, the Deputy Director of Public Outreach and Engagements at the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) said that for a successful election, all stakeholders including the youth must take responsibility for a peaceful election outcome.
He explained that youth must not only remain optimistic and patriotic about the country but also speak out and continuously voice their leadership concerns by participating positively in competitive politics and electioneering.
“We need to look at the behaviour that each aspirant exhibits in their campaigns, from the member of county assembly all the way to the presidency. If we are to move forward as a country, selflessness, objectivity, openness, integrity, and honesty are some of the personal ethos that we are calling for as NCIC in this election season and afterwards,” he said.
Rasi Masudi, Director of Voter Education and Partnership at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) reiterated the need for young people to come out and participate in elections by first registering as voters and turning out to cast their ballots, adding that the IEBC is adequately prepared to deliver a credible, free, and fair election on August 9, 2022.
Key leaders who also spoke included Viridian Wasike, Head of Partnerships and Resource Mobilization at the National Youth Council who urged the youths to participate in policy development both at the county and the national governments and Maxwell Magawi from the National Student’s Caucus, who also urged them not to be hoodwinked into being taken hostage by politicians for their personal interests.
The Mkenya Daima Initiative 2022, seeks to promote the election of transformative leaders, increase awareness among Kenyans of the desired qualities of a good leader as well as enhance positive discourse on a prosperous Kenya by increasing hope, confidence, and optimism among Kenyans.