The Drastic Death of Democratic Vibrancy in Kenya

The Drastic Death of Democratic Vibrancy in Kenya
 By Joseph Owuondo, PhD Student – Maseno University, US Marine Veteran

Democratic governments are built upon a system of checks and balances that prevent any one person or group from holding too much power and that protect individual rights and freedoms.

In addition to these formal mechanisms, the level of vitality, energy, and engagement within a democratic society is also important.

This is known as democratic vibrancy, which is measured by the degree to which individuals and groups participate in the democratic process, express their opinions, and engage in civic activities such as voting, protesting, and engaging in political discourse.

Unfortunately, the state of democratic vibrancy in Kenya is currently dwindling at an alarming rate.

To build a strong, responsible citizenry and protect individual rights and freedoms, it is essential that all stakeholders – including the political class, religious organizations, civil society, international organizations, and the citizenry – work together to uphold democratic vibrancy in Kenya.

This will help promote diverse perspectives and innovation, hold those in power accountable, and ensure that citizens are active participants in the democratic process.

Until recently, the birth of multipartyism in Kenya had fostered a society that exhibited high levels of vibrancy, characterized by a diverse range of voices and perspectives, as well as an active and engaged citizenry that valued and understood democratic principles and institutions.

Kenyan civil society, individuals, and groups were empowered to express their opinions, participate in decision-making, and hold those in power accountable.

The Kenyan people had established networks of social relationships and trust, which are essential for building strong communities.

Overall, until the last three general elections, the Kenyan citizenry could rightly be considered engaging enough to create thriving communities that fostered democracy and improved the quality of life.

The gains made by multipartyism in Kenya are rapidly being eroded under the present political regime.

Democratic vibrancy in the country is declining rapidly, with low levels of engagement, political apathy, and disinterest becoming the norm.

The legislative and judiciary arms of the government have been hijacked by the executive, further contributing to the erosion of democratic principles.

Voter registration and turnout in the last three general elections have decreased, signalling a lack of interest in political affairs.

The executive has been actively weakening and destroying opposition parties and voices, which risks turning Kenya into a one-party state.

If this trend continues, the next general election may have only one party going to the polls, possibly with small proxy parties to stifle any critics.

Such a system may appear efficient and stable in the short term, but in the long term, it will be detrimental to the country’s political, social, and economic development.

Kenya must take steps to reverse this trend and strengthen democratic vibrancy to avoid the pitfalls of a one-party state.

A one-party state in Kenya would lack political competition, leading to complacency, increased corruption, and a lack of accountability.

Without competition, there would be no pressure for the ruling party to deliver on its promises, and citizens would have no alternative choices if they were dissatisfied with the government’s performance.

In a single-party system, political freedoms such as freedom of speech, assembly, and the press would often be restricted.

The ruling party would use its power to suppress the already weakened opposition, limit dissent, and control the flow of information to maintain its grip on power.

Political diversity would also be suppressed, resulting in a limited range of ideas and perspectives, which would lead to a lack of innovation, creativity, and progress.

The one-party regime cannot represent all citizens’ interests and needs, as the current ruling party has indicated, through its statements and political appointments, that it represents only a particular segment of the population – those who supported and voted for them at the general election.

This marginalizes other groups, which are ignored or discriminated against.

Finally, with a weak opposition and an all-powerful ruling regime, there is a high risk of abuse of power, as there are no checks and balances on its authority.

This would result in corruption, nepotism, and violations of human rights. In conclusion, democratic vibrancy is essential for the health and stability of any democracy, and Kenya is no exception.

The decline in democratic vibrancy in Kenya poses a significant risk to the country’s political, social, and economic development.

It is imperative that all stakeholders work together to reverse this trend and uphold democratic principles and institutions.

Building a strong, responsible citizenry that values and understands democratic principles is key to achieving this.

Kenya needs to promote diverse perspectives, innovation, and accountability, ensuring that citizens are active participants in the democratic process.

Failure to do so risks turning Kenya into a one-party state, which would have detrimental effects on the country’s political, social, and economic future.

Therefore, all stakeholders must work towards strengthening democratic vibrancy in Kenya to safeguard individual rights and freedoms, promote progress and development, and maintain stability and security.

– (By: Joseph Owuondo | 046618552)


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