Nairobi Monday, March 5th, 2012- Ethnicity and political euphoria may have little impact in the next general elections, according to an opinion poll on the ‘State of Governance in Kenya’ conducted by Transparency International-Kenya.According to the survey, there is a high level of public expectation for honesty and a clean development record among aspiring leaders with 77% of the respondents reporting that they will consider these two values in casting their votes; 15.7% said they will consider election pledges while 4% cited the ethnicity of a candidate as a key factor in selecting leaders.
The opinion poll was conducted with the implementation of the Constitution, anticipated general elections and impending International Criminal Court (ICC) trials on the 2007/2008 post-election violence in mind. These three processes have without doubt placed key governance institutions under a sharp spotlight, ignited Kenya’s political temperature and catalysed political formations.
The opinion poll aimed to evaluate: the perceived changes in governance practices in Kenya since the adoption of the Constitution; anti-corruption efforts; factors that are likely to influence voting patterns in the next general elections and the impact of the ICC process on the forthcoming elections and Kenya in general.
Methodology: The survey was conducted among 1,936 Kenyans between January 20th and February 13th, 2012. Face to face interviews were conducted among respondents selected through simple random sampling. The study sample was distributed among the previously existing provincial regions, on a population proportion to size basis. The estimated margin of error was +/- 2.2% at 95% confidence level.
Issues that matter to the electorate: Majority of Kenyans want candidates in the next elections to make commitments to build national cohesion (27.9%), fight poverty (27.1%), reduce the cost of living (22.7%), and tackle corruption (21.6%). These results demonstrate Kenyans’ desire for issue-based politics. Politicians therefore have to be alive to the critical challenges facing the electorate. Vetting of candidates by the electorate will play a crucial role in determining their values, vision and ability to deliver commitments made during the campaigns. Vetting strategies should therefore occupy a central role in civic education initiatives by the state and non-state actors. “We must critically scrutinise all individuals seeking our votes and take advantage of the next general elections to birth a refined leadership that meets our priorities and expectations, and places country before self,” said the TI-Kenya Executive Director, Mr Samuel Kimeu during the launch of the opinion poll report.
The extent to which the Constitution has changed the governance structure: Sixty-four percent of the sampled population said there has been positive change in governance practices since the passage of the Constitution; 28% of the respondents reporting positive change pegged their position to judicial reforms while 26% mentioned more awareness on human rights. The rising cost of living and high corruption levels have seemingly diminished appreciation for the Constitution. About 34% and 11% cited the rising cost of living and high levels of corruption respectively as the reasons behind their pessimism on the impact the Constitution has had on governance practices. Realistically, the Constitution may only deliver better living standards in the long term but the government should devise more progressive policy interventions to alleviate the rising cost of living.
Institutions perceived as impediments to the implementation of the Constitution: Parliament is viewed as the largest threat to successful implementation of the Constitution.Fifty-seven percent of the respondents were apprehensive about Parliament’s commitment to the implementation process while 15% and 12% cast doubt on the Judiciary and Presidency respectively in the same regard. Parliament is at the centre of the legislative process therefore it is important that the public views it as an institution that facilitates rather than hinders or stalls implementation. Perhaps petty politicking, partisan interests and self-preservation attempts by Members of Parliament during the law-making process have eroded public confidence on this all-important institution. There is need for Parliament to examine why the public has a negative perception on its commitment to the constitutional implementation process and reform accordingly.
Anti-corruption efforts by the government: Seventy-seven percent of the sampled population reported lack of awareness of any government-led anti-corruption efforts in their locality. It is unlikely that there are no anti-corruption efforts in the areas where lack of awareness was reported, implying that the efforts are not publicised and/or sufficiently inclusive. Messaging of corruption issues should be simple and widely accessible through appropriate media and languages to facilitate broad awareness and public participation in anti-corruption efforts.
Public confidence in institutions involved in anti-corruption efforts: The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the civil society each received a confidence rating of about 33% on their ability to steer the fight against corruption.Public confidence in the commission should be maintained and elevated even further as it is a key factor in mobilising civic support in the fight against corruption. “As a matter of urgency,Parliament should address the stalemate in the appointment of the EACC Chair and Commissioners, as the doubts cast on the integrity and ability of those nominated to serve in these positions, may diminish public confidence in EACC’s ability to tackle corruption. TI-Kenya recommends a fresh start of the selection process, starting with the appointment of a new selection panel,” said Mr Kimeu. “The glaring weaknesses of the EACC Act must also be addressed through requisite amendments to fully arm the Commission in the war against corruption,” he added.
Impact of the ICC process: About 46% of the respondents said that the impending ICC trials will help minimise a recurrence of electoral violence in future; 20% believe that the ICC process will provide relief or justice for the victims. On this basis, the establishment of the judicial and legal structures necessary to prosecute other post-election violence perpetrators not committed to the ICC process should be expedited.
Kenya’s hope lies in a strong Leadership and Integrity law effectively enforced
The Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs has indicated plans to table the Leadership and Integrity Bill, 2012, before the Cabinet and Parliament soon. A strong leadership and integrity law effectively implemented holds the key to the election and appointment of deserving individuals who hold Kenyans’ best interests at heart. It has the potential to commit leaders to selfless service and thus serve to surmount various hurdles that have been placed on the path of the constitutional implementation process and efforts targeting justice for the victims and perpetrators of the post-election violence and other acts of impunity. “TI-Kenya is aware that vested interests have already coalesced to oppose an effective leadership and integrity law following past involvement in acts of human rights abuse and corruption by themselves or their allies, and resultant uncertainty on their political destiny. TI-Kenya with its partners, will identify, publicise and urge Kenyans to blacklist all legislators who work towards undermining the proposed Leadership and Integrity Bill,” said Mr Kimeu.