Voter bribery is the main factor in electing unsuitable candidates in elective posts, a new survey has revealed.
The research, Voter Bribery as an Election Malpractice in Kenya, done by Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) shows that 56 per cent of Kenyans had received bribes from aspirants to influence their choice of the leader.
The report indicates that aspirant increase their support to families that were never supported by them in any way in the past as a means to entice them to elect or re-elect them.
“It was clear that voter bribery influences how the people vote and results in people electing leaders who are evidently corrupt, by having bribed the voters in the first place and are likely to sustain the very nature of being corrupt even after being elected,” reads the report.
The survey revealed that the aspirants make frequent ‘harambees’, pay school fees hospital bills, funeral expenses and promise the electorate jobs and tenders once they assume office.
This includes but not limited to making payments to persons who attend political meetings by giving them transport, giving handouts, distributing branded merchandise in the name of ‘campaign materials’.
“The aspirants pay for opinion polls and influence the process to skew the results in their favour,” reads the report which will be officially released this Friday.
The research conducted in 10 Counties namely, Kakamega, Kiambu, Bomet, Kilifi, Kisumu, Machakos, Meru, Nakuru, Migori and Trans Nzoi brought on board 600 participants with a view to address the issue of voter bribery during polls.
The report also notes that despite voters being aware that voter bribery is a crime, people still engage in the vice as a result of myriads of issues.
Top among the issues, citizens themselves demand to be bribed, aspirants equally believe that voter bribery is one of the ways towards winning an elective seat.
“The fact that in the previous periods, persons who engage in voter bribery have not been convicted, hence people still feel that engaging in the vice might not therefore be deterred,” reads the reports-findings.
Interestingly, most respondents believe that almost all the candidates seeking for elective seats engage in corruption, hence their choices are limited.
“People tend to choose people who have money, thinking that they are best placed to take care of them upon being elected,” reads the findings.
The research discovered that aspirants may have gotten their finances for campaigns through corrupt sources and therefore do not feel the pain of dishing out money loosely to voters.
The ‘Mtu wetu’ syndrome is also a major factor in elections as there is a tendency amongst some voters that their kinsmen or tribesmen should be elected due to the relationships they have with them irrespective of their qualifications.
“The survey was conducted over a period of three months between the April and July last year. It involved mobilizing the electorate, local political aspirants, party officials and opinion shapers,” said CMD Executive Director Carey Onyango.
Onyango made the remarks at a mini launch of the report during a retreat organized by CMD, KAS and Political Journalists Association of Kenya (PJAK) to train political reporters on election coverage.
Dr Onyango indicated that the stakes are high for the August polls just as what was experienced in the 2007 and therefore the electorate must be enlightened to focus on issues of good governance and to say no to voter bribery.
“We must enhance control by raising public awareness on the vice of voter bribery. We are in a democratic system where the winner takes it all and all aspirants would want to win,” said Onyango.
KAS Country Representative Dr Jans Cernicky urged Kenyans to go beyond just exercising their democratic right to cast their voters but to elect leaders they can hold accountable.
“If voters are not careful to cast their votes for leaders who address the issues that affect their community and go instead to cast votes for other reasons such as bribery and tribal affiliations, they cannot expect their interests to be met by the leaders they elect,” said Cernicky.