Are Kenyans abroad only good for remittances and not votes?

By Thuothuo Anthony -Jamhuri News

By Thuothuo Anthony-: Jamhuri News

Every so often, Kenyans living abroad read about how much their remittances to Kenya have continued to increase in folds.

Perhaps get excited thinking of the few thousands each sent contributing to the growth. Both the government and private sectors have continued to economically flirt with Kenyans at the epicenter of these remittances. USA and UK have had a good share of both renown and self-proclaimed investment agents visiting with nothing short of excellent portfolios on paper.

They promise heavens in turning a few hundred acres of arid land into urban cities and “gated communities”, mostly next to ”another proposed city or campus”. These are the plots that are dubbed boroti maguta maguta (Premium plots)Title deeds are not mailed, they’re hand delivered to owners in the diaspora and professional photographers are hired to document the issuing. The diaspora community has truly been accorded its well deserved five-star recognition and treatment.

Actually, many Kenyans in the diaspora’s public sphere will tell you they indeed have several direct contacts with top government officials and investment tycoons. A Luxury that a mere Kenyan in Nairobi or Kakamega will possibly never have, regardless of their acumen and savvy contribution to the economy.

Why then can’t we vote?

You may ask. The simple and brutal answer to that is; as the new country’s 48th county, your vote is expensive, unpredictable and no politician is a fan of that.

The opposition claims that if the diaspora is allowed to vote, the opportunity could open a door for the ruling party to inflate the number of diaspora voters and use the difference to steal the elections. On the other hand, the government views the diaspora community the same way it looks at horticulture and tourism. It’s just another investment vehicle.

If the diaspora voted, they’d apply their issue based principles than the tribal groove the country has seen in the past. That would mean only voting for the candidate with an irrefutable record. A quality most politicians know they would struggle meeting the threshold.

Reaching the estimated three million diasporans in over ten highly populated countries would be an expensive, and major hurdle that many politicians are not willing to jump.

If the diaspora vote was a priority, at least London and D.C should have been added as polling stations when they added Pretoria in South Africa.

So, if you’ve been looking forward to taking that flight to D.C. or that train to London to cast your vote, don’t be too optimistic. There’s more interest in your remittance than your unpredictable vote. Work hard and send money home to grow the GDP, and leave the rest to serikali.

Thuothuo Anthony is an entrepreneur based in Boston MA.