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The Local Government Elections kicked off the candidates’ campaigning sessions recently.

It is interesting to hear what some of the hopefuls promise the voters. Some bring great hope, while others leave you wondering. The exercise of campaigning is brilliant because it brings about accountability and gives the voters a chance to interrogate the hopefuls. Giving the residents a voice also contributes to effective local governance.

The best local governance is one that should meet today’s needs while considering the needs of future generations. It is always imperative that no decisions should be made that could harm future generations or reduce their quality of life. Hence the participation of the voters in such settings is essential, and kudos to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for that platform and its stakeholders.


Residents should have a voice to air their wishes on programmes that consider environmental, structural, financial, economic and social factors that may impact the long-term. It is not all about rates and roads but even the general quality of life in the different wards. Good governance and public participation are critical pillars of effective local government in as much as basic service delivery and infrastructure matter. The participation and nomination processes of these elections are also quite interesting.

While councillors have a massive role in the development of towns, the residents do not seem to have the same interest in participating as in the national elections for constituencies. However, since the registration process this year and the nomination stage, we have seen the same residents come out in numbers to hear what the potential councillors are promising them.


My biggest interest is that they come with a list of promises and pledges to the residents, and in one meeting, a resident said that list must be informed by them, not generated by the potential candidate on their own.This is a very important point because, for you to speak to the people you want to serve, you must thoroughly research their needs and wants. Most of the candidates I listened to in one town kept stating that they knew the ward’s needs because they had been residents there for many years. There needs to be more for one to then create a development plan for a ward. It requires you to have a direct finger on the pulse of each resident to be able to be a person in touch with their needs and produce a practical plan for them.


Interesting also was the issue of youth in the campaigns. There were seven candidates in the session I managed to attend, and only one was a youth. Even though I do not know the age of this candidate but he was not the youth of his early 20s in my quick scan. However, I may need to be corrected.
After their presentations, one young man in his teenage years asked what they would offer the youth. He said he was concerned that the pitches touched mainly on rates and services but no programmes for the youth.

He asked how it could be that the youth, as the majority of the population, were not considered in any of the pitches and their role in the ward development. He highlighted that many young people were qualified and experienced but jobless, leading to crime. He asked what the candidates would do to address this, which created a division between them and the councillors. So the candidates were then given the microphone to respond.


Listening to the responses, the word youth sounded like a foreign concept to them. They needed to be able to juxtapose the needs of the youth with the already existing programmes that the council offers. It left me wondering if they know the numerous programmes that the council has. I know of countless youth empowerment initiatives the councils have, including business training and seed capital for businesses. But that was not mentioned as an area the candidates would strengthen to ensure their ward grows using it. Instead, their focus was on getting youth short-term jobs in technical tenders around the community.

While that is good, the candidates, as they continue to, campaign, need to get more in touch with what the councils do and link those services to the communities as they are the conduit or the light for them to access them. In a quick search on the web on the topic of how to convince people to vote for you, WikiHow states: “Whether it’s for student body president, city council, mayor, or house captain, there are certain fundamental things you need to do if you want to win an election.


“To persuade people to vote for you, they must know who you are, have confidence in your platform, and believe you’re the best person for the job.
“If you take the time to understand potential voters and get your message out, you can get the votes you need to win.” I am here for the last part. It is important to take time to understand potential voters. Not to assume you know their needs but to get down to their level and appreciate them. Good luck to the candidates and, most of all, to the residents because they need great representatives. One resident said, when all is said and done, all they require is a leader who will be honest and serve them diligently and not disappear after being elected. That is the value proposition the candidates need to sell, and they need not only talk the talk but also walk it. That is how they will pitch to win.