Elections: #KenyaDecides 5 Lessons for Zimbabwe

By Tariro Senderayi 

Kenyans will go for a second Presidential election in the next 60 days after the Supreme Court annulled the first polls held on the 8th of August 2017.

The Supreme Court judgement which was delivered on the 1st of September follows a petition by Raila Odinga leader of the largest opposition party the National Super Alliance (NASA) who was challenging the outcome of the polls, which had been endorsed by international observers as being as free and fair.

There are however a few lessons that Zimbabwe can learn from the Kenyan election:

1. Biometric voter registration system.

Explaining of the biometric system especially to the rural folk and marginalised groups should be continuous. Kenyan Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) ensured that they did not tire in discharging this mandate. It is the duty of CSOs to ensure continuity of this process throughout the election cycle, help citizens understand their rights and civic responsibility. Education around the system should be continued even after election day.

2. Scrutinise policies that facilitate elections and make sure the needs of the citizens are met at least a year before the election. As long as the policy framework for the electoral process is weak, there should be no anticipation of a strong outcome that resonates with the masses, thus CSO should push for policy that will guarantee free, fair and credible elections.

3. The peace component of elections is critical. Divergent political views and affiliations are inevitable in a democracy. Maintaining peace should be pushed by civil society, political parties and politicians. This ensures that political violence is kept at a minimal and citizens are conscience on the gain or lack of violence during elections. Kenya had numerous peace campaigns including the Peace Bike campaign that encompassed public transport sector called the ‘Bodaboda bikes’ spreading the message of peace during elections. Imagine in our context if it is the ‘Mshika-shikas’ and Kombis spreading the peace message?

4. Online advocacy around elections should be very strong. Social media and use of radio have been instrumental in spreading the message around elections. Kenyans are strong on social media and they made sure that any questionable behaviour by electoral bodies, politicians and political parties were queried and scrutinised. Kenyans were keen about the process and could apply constant pressure.

5. The use of simulation exercises that mirror actual voting has been instrumental. Sample ballot boxes, papers and observers were present so that citizens could have a feel of how voting will be way before election day. This strategy demystifies fear in citizens surrounding the process of voting that may have ordinarily put apathy in the electoral process.


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