3 Forms of Citizen Power you Need to Know About
Article 1 of the Kenya Constitution gives citizens all the sovereign power. This means that collectively, the citizens of Kenya have the right and power to determine their own future and govern themselves.
In exercising this sovereign power, citizens must participate in different processes such as voting where they delegate some of the power to elected officials, and planning and budgeting processes where they express their desires in terms of what they want those whom they delegate power to do for them. Citizen participation is therefore an explicit form of citizen power.
In its basic definition, citizen power is the ability of the public to engage leaders, duty bearers and policy makers effectively by airing their views when it comes to the governance of this country. There are three forms of citizen power that citizens exhibit in a democratic country such as ours. Each form yields different results and is ideal for different situations:
- Physical Citizen Power
This form of citizen power is provided for in Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya. It involves direct or physical participation of citizens in governance processes. It includes using one’s efforts to engage in processes such as working for or with the government to develop the country, holding protests against bad governance or boycotting services, products or bad policies and laws. When exercising this form of power, it is important to do this in accordance with constitution.
- Fiscal citizen Power
This power relates to financial actions like paying or not paying taxes, donations, approving and spending public money and such activities. The public can use this power in various ways. One, they can pay or fail to pay taxes facilitate service delivery. Secondly, members of the public may also insist on tracking how the taxes they pay are used prudently by duty bearers. Citizens may also demand for sanctions in cases where public funds have been misappropriated.
3. Passive Citizen Power
This form of citizen power does not require citizens to engage duty bearers directly through physical actions. Rather, citizens utilize various tools to engage duty bearers. Such tools include signing petitions, voting in representatives, releasing publications, recalling under-performing representatives and writing letters of complaint or demand for information to duty bearers.