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Electorates generate community manifestos

The electorate are changing tact by coming up with community manifestos that include their priority areas they need addressed by their leaders.

This is part of an ongoing dialogue initiated by Inform Action and Network for Research and Governance (NRG) to prepare the electorates in Sheywe Ward of Kakamega to elect responsive leaders who are focused on development.

The community Manifestos according to Inform Action Limited Western Base Coordinator Winnie Wanjala, will be submitted to aspirants informing of a document who will be required to make a commitment of implementation by signing it.

“We are mobilizing community members to prioritize their needs and put them in a document and then they will be able to sign these manifestos with their leaders. So that the leaders are committing that once they get to power, they are going to implement the said projects,” she explained.

She said, during a mobilization meeting at Maraba Village in Sheywe, that in normal cases, political aspirants generate their own manifestoes and feed the electorates, which they sometimes fail to fulfil when elected.

“Normally it is the politicians who come and give us manifestos, this time round we want to come and do differently in western Kenya,” she said.

Inform Action piloted the program in Nyeri back in 2017 by supporting a women’s group to come up with manifestos which they presented to their leaders.

One of the leaders whom they presented the manifesto to was elected, who then supported women to start a value addition project of making crisps from bananas and producing flowers which has become a source of income for majority of them and created employment.

“So this year we are saying it is the leaders who are going to prioritize the community needs and not the other way round,” she added.

Wanjala noted that with the hard economic times and increasing cost of living, residents are undergoing a lot of pressure and uncertain times which call for scrutiny of leaders to get those who are sensitive to their needs and are not corrupt ones, pointing out that the handout culture should stop.

The two organizations will also engage community members in the region to conduct social audits of projects that are of importance to their daily lives to give the electorates a clue on whom to elect and who to reject.

“We are also going to do social audits of previous projects of our leaders to give our leaders a scorecard to see whether they delivered on their promises, whether they used taxpayers’ money prudently and efficiently,” she added.

Where scorecards will turn out to be low, it will be treated as a red-flag and the electorates will be required to make informed decisions by exercising their constitutional rights by voting during the August general election.

 “We want the community to do these so that they can be able to get their leaders based on the issues they are prioritizing in the community as opposed to just politicking,” she added.

Inform Action Limited Western Base Coordinator Winnie Wanjala speaks to residents of Maraba in Sheywe Ward Kakamega County

The Lead Network for Research and Governance (NRG) Kakamega Paul Odongo said the activities will be done in Sheywe ward before being scaled out to other wards across the county.

He said Community members have Identified Priority Areas that will be assessed through the social audits. “Community members have raised concerns on status of level two hospitals or dispensaries, sewerage system, box culvert on their roads and security,” he added.

He said a committee of nine members will be constituted in the community who will work closely with NRG and Inform action to lead community members in assessing projects in the area and validate duty bearers.

Odongo said that from initial engagements with community members, the majority expressed willingness that they are able to participate in electing responsible leaders, but in the past they left everything to fate.

“Residents are delighted about the information that we are bringing down to the community. They have come to understand that they are taxpayers and there is a lot of misuse of funds, that they need to wake up, actually they said they have been depending on handouts,” he disclosed.

Odongo noted that as NRG they have extended its wings to 12 sub counties of Kakamega with Budget Champions to enlighten residents of their constitutional rights and need to participate in development efforts.

“Electioneering period provides another opportunity for citizens to elect the right leaders and remove the wrong ones in power,” he noted.

He said they will engage the electorates to even continue tracking the election promises, post-election and continue to hold elected leaders accountable in terms of implementation until projects are delivered.

Odongo also urged political aspirants to come up with election pledges cards which is a clear commitment of fulfilling their promises.

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