Voter Bribery Belongs to the Annals of Kenyan History
The Center for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD) released a report on voter bribery in Kenya. The report has called voter bribery a fraud and a subversion of democracy.
According to Collins English election rigging is the act of organizing an election to get a specific result through dishonest ways like voter bribery .
Voter bribery is provision of material benefits to voters in exchange for the votes in a ballot. This illegal practice is usually committed by the aspirants of political offices or their agents.
Law on voter bribery
The Elections Act 2012 prohibits the payment of bribes by politicians. The politicians should not buy drinks, refreshments, food, pay expenses or give voters money to entice them to vote or not vote.
A politician who commits the offence of voter bribery is liable on conviction to a fine of up to Ksh 1 million. Alternatively, such a person can be imprisoned a term not more than 6 years and in some cases bother the penalty and imprisonment.
It’s astonishing that people are aware that voter bribery is a crime but they still engage in it.
Below is a list of reasons why voters engage in voter bribery according to a research by the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD):
- Believing that the majority of aspirants are corrupt hence the voters have limited choices.
- The fact that nothing has ever happened to the people who engaged in voter bribery in previous elections.
- Aspirants who believe that voter bribery is part and parcel for an aspirant to win a political seat.
- Cases where citizens demand for bribes from aspirants.
- Majority of political aspirants may have acquired their wealthy through corruption and as a result they do not feel the pinch of dishing out the money.
- Lack of awareness among the voters to know their rights to elect a person of their choice without being influenced by money.
Across Kenya voter bribery is a great problem. This crime actually determines the voting patterns. Politicians who practice corruption by paying voters for their votes are most likely to continue with this crime after the elections.
Enablers of voter bribery
- Poverty and unemployment among voters. Poor voters will always welcome any act of voter bribery. They use the money to support their households.
- Weak laws enforcement – there is not disincentives to deter aspirants from bribing voters.
- The previous elections have sent the pace and as a result created voter expectations.
Where can I report Voter Bribery?
There are a number of institutions responsible for dealing with voter bribery. These are as listed below:
- The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission
- The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)
- The National Police Service
- The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
- The National Gender and Equality Commission
- The Judiciary
- The Office of the Auditor General
- The National Assembly,
- The Senate and County Assemblies
- The Ombudsman
- The National Commission of Human Rights
- The Office of Controller of Budget
The main question is whether the above listed institutions are playing their role in fighting voter bribery. The survey conducted by Centre for Multi-Party Democracy found out that a majority of people feel that the above institutions are not playing their expected role.
Effects of voter Bribery
The following are the effects of voter bribery in Kenya:
- Leads to election into power of unaccountable and incompetent people
- Voter bribery is the starting point for corruption practices after the elections
- Voter bribery leads to underdevelopment since the leaders are not accountable to the voters
- Voter bribery prevents the poor good leaders from ascending into power and supports weak institutions.
Safeguards against Voter Bribery
- Using social media to fight voter bribery as part of civic education. Discuss the importance of making voter bribery a history in Kenya.
- Religious organizations should use their platforms to pass the messages against voter bribery
- Have a conversation with your neighbors and friends about the need to end voter bribery
Role of Voters in ending Voter Bribery
- Voters should resist bribes from the aspirants
- Participate in civic education
- Make informed decisions at the ballot
- Campaign against voter bribery