The community dialogue was attended by 56 individuals from Mabatini ward, and it included 32 females and 24 males. It was organized by Mathare Social Justice Centre and had participants from the host’s human rights defenders network, as well as various youth groups in the area.
Below are the topics of discussion and how they were responded to:
- What are the roles of various leaders? Do you know/understand them?
Although this was the first question, the participants were very active in the conversation. Majority of them explained that they are not aware of the roles of the Women’s Representative and the power she holds, and most of them are only aware of the Jubilee and NASA aspirants and have not yet done their research on the independent candidates.
- What are your immediate needs? Has any contender addressed them?
Mama Whitney first spoke on ending extrajudicial executions around Mathare. She noted that the police have a responsibility to respect citizens and that so far there is no political aspirant who has blatantly come out to speak out on normalization of police killings.
It was then mentioned that everyone in Mathare is complaining about the Community Development Fund (CDF) projects, that on paper there are claims that certain projects have already been implemented when, however, on the ground, nothing has been done. Victor added to this by saying that some of the projects that have been implemented have actually been carried out by private individuals, such as the Chandaria Foundation, and yet the incumbent wants to take responsibility for them.
On this note, some of the participants claim to have gone for various trainings carried out by the Ward Development Fund, but that when it comes to implementation they are still blind as to where the money goes since the whole process lacks transparency.
Collins came out to admit that the youth (and everyone in Mathare) needs civic education in order to understand what to expect from the politicians according to their seats.
- From the previous election, have you seen any tangible changes? Are any of the projects implemented sustainably?
At this point, the community members got a bit angry, speaking to the state of education, sanitation and health. Lillian said that she was born and raised in Mathare but the state of the constituency seems to be deteriorating by the year.
- The current MP promised to build hospitals and that every ward will have a public toilet. There have been no tangible results to this end.
- The current MP promised to have a fire brigade in Mathare. The community remembered the fires that have broken out within Mabatini with no assistance from anyone.
- The political promise has been clean water for decades. There is currently an outbreak of cholera and the public toilets remain closed from the date they were built. The community has reverted to using ‘flying toilets’.
- Education and promises to provide jobs by K1. This is an issue that really affects the youth. They remain unattended to and majority of the youth in Mabatini and Mathare in general remain unemployed, and not out of any choice of their own.
- There is no single social hall in the whole of Mathare. In fact, the community dialogue took place in an open space with a tent and raw sewage running right next to us.
- What are you looking for in a leader?
Akinyi stood up to state that the problem with most of the people in Mathare is that they look to people with money as being good leaders. There was a bit of an argument amongst the community, with Tony insisting that most of the people will vote for whoever gives the most money; the participants need immediate solutions as well as long term ones. Vivian closed this conversation by reiterating that people will take the money because they need to survive.
The community finalised by stating that they need to be given information on those who are vying, such as their integrity and where their money is coming from. At this point, MSJC invited them to their office for conversations on this, and informed them that they are planning a political debate in their area very soon. The community was pleased to hear this and Nickodemus said they look forward to it.
Kelvin and Jamo, however, were left stating that people need to vote individuals they believe in, and not just the political parties they represent.
The dialogue ended with MSJC urging the community to confirm their voter’s status at their registered polls, and told them to vote wisely. We advised them that we need to keep peace because we are one family, that each and every vote counts, that the people have the power to choose whom they want in office. ‘Msiuze kura zenyu (Don’t sell your vote). Choose peace,’ Julie concluded emphatically.
By Maria Mutauta
See some pictures from this successful political accountability event below.