The Citizen Handbook
Democracy and Governance
Governance refers to the management of
public affairs as well as the relationships between and among people and their
organizations. Citizens in a democracy have the power to exercise political
control. They may become involved in their government by meeting with elected
and government officials to express their concerns or by petitioning and
demonstrating peacefully in support of an issue or action.
Citizens in a democracy also can vote for candidates who make convincing arguments to improve their lives and re-elect those leaders who actually fulfill their promises once elected. Media groups can report freely about government activities, including matters of corruption and the misuse of public resources. In addition, under a democratic system, the President and other public officials are responsible for enforcing the rule of law provided for in the Constitution.
In a democracy, citizens must get involved in the governing process to ensure that public officials are responsive to their needs. If citizens are not actively involved in the political and decision-making process, public officials can make decisions with little accountability to the public. Without citizen input, these decisions may also harm rather than help the community. Citizen involvement in governance, however, does not happen overnight. It takes time for people to recognize the role they can play in their country’s democracy and to take the appropriate steps to become involved in the democratic process.
It is difficult for a citizen to get involved in the political process without understanding how their government works. Citizens need skills and the confidence to voice their concerns in order to hold public officials accountable. They must also know their rights and responsibilities and have the necessary skills to make informed choices.
The Constitution has created more opportunities for citizens to participate in the management of their country. It is important for citizens, therefore, to take advantage of these opportunities not only by staying informed about the campaign platforms of politicians, but also by participating in government decision-making processes.
Civic education helps to create an informed and responsible citizenry that plays a critical role in enhancing democracy. The Constitution directs all citizens to be active participants in the governance process. Civic education is the first step in empowering Kenyans to be responsible citizens who are aware of their rights and responsibilities and are prepared to contribute to a fair and equitable society.