Last night when i couldn’t sleep and reading wasn’t helping, it occurred to me we have a problem with the conduct of elections and the type of people employed to do the work. First I admit here that the process has improved but it can be better.
To address the efficiency of the voting process, we must first look at the political players who benefit from an inefficient system.
Next we look at the people who manage this process. The voting process is controlled by a team of commissioners appointed by the president. They have a secretariat with a CEO and other staff I guess who are involved in the elections. The commissioners enjoy security of tenure, are paid huge salaries and it does seem to me, do very little in terms of simplifying the voting process. Our elections get more expensive every election cycle instead of cheaper, smoother and more transparent. So what to do?
First, make the commissioner position a volunteer position. They shouldn’t expect any pay. Add a condition that should they botch the elections, they will forfeit their freedom and property. But if they should improve the voting process, they will be rewarded handsomely or beautifully whichever you identify with.
Do away with the lawyers. Damn it. They have demonstrated they can’t do arithmetic. They have been at the centre of the election disputes, over numbers, we have had in the last three cycles and it seems the country hasn’t learnt from it.
It should be a requirement that whoever wants to be nominated as a volunteer in the election body must demonstrate how they intend to ensure the vote counting and tallying is both efficient and open to scrutiny. I have ideas on this but that’s for later. The voting process should be treated as a project with a start and end date. The risks identified and classed. Mitigation measures agreed, roles allocated, budgets agreed on and whatever processes required to execute the project made available. A move to a paperless system should be considered.
I had said I would deal with the political players first but look at us. I don’t know about other countries, but I think there is a general luck of trust that each of us will follow the maxim of one man one vote and to cure this, political parties and candidates employ vast numbers of observers to ensure there is no shady dealings going on. The question is how do we address the conflict between private and public morality?
The other question that presents itself is how to reduce the stakes in the political game. As it is, the high stakes means winning by any means has become the mantra. I am not naive to the fact that being a legislator offers many goods that so many would die for. All around, politicians seems to outlive everyone else. They don’t ever die. They have access to government contracts- and in a world where the richest people or organizations are those that do business with the government, then the stakes can not be any lower. A time must come when this madness will get to its apex and the only way out is down, but we don’t have much time so interventions are needed now.
It occurred to me quite recently that the requirements for political office are so low compared to any other office. You apply for a job in almost any field and they want millions of years in experience, your achievements, bonafides and all. But when it comes to politics, the bare minimum which shockingly, this class of clowns don’t have. Take the case of the current governor for Nairobi. When asked to produce his certificates, he went to court as if the courts can cure such a deficiency!
But all this is wishful thinking. A man can dream.