Of Jubilee, NASA and the ‘Informed Voter’

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto of Jubilee Party

With the political party nominations coming to a close, the countdown begins towards the August 8th elections. The yet to be concluded party primaries have seen a surge in the number of youth seeking elective seats whether as Members of the County Assemblies, Members of the National Assembly, Governors as well as Senators. The general youthful argument being to provide leadership that is a stark departure from the old guard ethnic balkanizing of the electorate as well as the open voter bribery incidences that have marred elective politics for decades. It, however, remains to be seen whether these sentiments are merely populist public pronouncements or whether the youth actually desire to be different in preaching political tolerance and accommodating diverse political views. This badge that many claim to wear with pride and honor is unfortunately just that, a badge. Deep down, many still desire the raw ethnic profiling and making politics about ethnic communities and not policy or ideology.

The social media today, unlike 10 years ago has become a key battleground in the scramble for a favorable public opinion. Unfortunately, it has also doubled up as a platform for bullies and ethnic chauvinists to quash alternative opinions with the hope of anchoring the very same divisive notions that took Kenya to the doldrums in 2007/2008. No Kikuyu or Kalenjin is obligated to support the Uhuruto ticket for re-election. In the spirit of democracy, the power to choose is vested on the voter, even where he or she may suspend reason in electing representatives. Similarly, the alternative leadership presented by the Railonzo ticket is never a do or die affair for the voters. The candidates have a right to sell their agenda to the people, who also have the right to apply or suspend reason in choosing or rejecting their political ideology. Therefore, like in the case of the Uhuruto ticket, no Luo, Luhyia or Kamba is obligated to support the Railonzo ticket.

The 5 NASA Principles during unveiling of their flag bearer at Uhuru Park

Kenyans have for the past 54 years of independence allowed politicians to colonize their mental faculties, operating like automated robots when engaging in civic processes. We have belonged to political parties because our ethnic kingpins subscribe to them, shifting allegiance in a heartbeat when our tribal henchmen change parties. No wonder elected representatives hardly deliver in the roles assigned them. All they need to do is take a swipe at a particular ethnic community or its leading figures and voila, their electoral base reeling in euphoria, fall in line. Aspiring politicians also play this very card to earn popularity within a desired ethnic base then present themselves as party loyalists and defenders of party leadership. But Kenyans already know this. We have read and re-read such analyses but opt to turn a blind eye because we believe that everyone else is playing by these crooked rules. We feign helplessness even when we know very well that we are getting a raw deal and suffering the repercussions with every passing day.

I fall in the bracket of Kenyans that believe that we can do something to change the dominant political narrative. Nothing, however, happens where the will is lacking. For starters, we can actively interrogate the political ideologies as presented by the political parties and coalitions we subscribe to. Secondly, we can look at the individuals constituting a political party or coalition and question their track record in meeting the ideologies they have outlined. There can be no two ways about this. A little bit of research to inform popular statements that we reiterate once spoken by politicians can go a long way into transforming the electorate and especially opinion leaders from ‘Yes Men and Women’ to principled individuals with a grounded idea on the type of future we want for ourselves and our country Kenya.

The Writer is a Research Consultant for Savic Consultants in Nairobi.

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Lessons From Kidero

KideroEvans Kidero is the name on the lips of almost all Kenyans on social media today.If you have nothing to say;either to ridicule or to sympathize with this big man(or is it former big man) then you are simply losing out on the trend.Most Kenyans really didn’t see this coming.Well,talk of the man who can draw a surprise slap that even women representatives find hard to dodge!His slap was fired by one Ferdinand Waititu, this guy just like Rio Ferdinand, the Manchester United defender wont give in.Just not yet.And today, he has found Kidero at his most vulnerable of moments.

Robert Greene’s first law in the book 48 laws of Power categorically states that, “Never outshine the Master”,this it seems has never crossed the mind of the former Mumias Sugar Company boss.It most likely seems that he opted to carry with him his boardroom naivety into the murky roads of political oblivion.To even think of rising above the political patronage of Raila Amolo Odinga, the irrefutable kingpin of Luo Nyanza was a great undoing for a politician of Kidero’s stature.The master rules until h opts out after which you seek their blessings or discredit his successor.Not the political coup effected in a boardroom like fashion with stakeholders who have no stake in Luo politics!

Kidero actualized the saying that ‘Do not burn bridges that you may require on your way back’.With the frosty relationships that he currently has with his sponsor party amid audible murmurs of his over ambitiousness;he will have been the key to his own downfall.Another tale of a fast rising political career that took a sudden and certain nosedive!

A year since he was elected into office and Kidero has nothing concrete to sell to the electorate that is devoid of policy jargon.The public feeds on results they can identify with.At the moment;most can attest to the inability to tame the transport industry that continues to render the city center impassable during peak hours as well as the yet to be contained spate of violence related to terrorism activities that have made Nairobi seem like one of the most insecure places in our country today!Separation of powers? Tell that to the hawker on the streets and you will understand why a smoothly operating CBD is all that matters to them and not who makes it smooth.The inverse would however see the same low income earner point fingers at anyone and everyone in a position to influence policy.Especially the governor.

I do not expect the Jubilee government to come to the aid of the embattled governor in case it comes to re-election.And if neither will the opposition then Nairobi will soon be seeing its second governor in its first term of existence.Nairobi being the capital is definitely strategic for the ruling coalition and I bet they will be all out guns blazing to capture this seat from the paws of the opposition.A scenario where the governor would be picked as the Jubilee candidate is also far fetched bearing in mind the spirited fight lodged by his rival and main challenger in the previous general elections.

Who will come to Kidero’s aid?I would not vouch for the very influential matatu industry which must currently be hoping to sign pre-naps with the prospective county boss in a bid to get a better deal.The county assembly?Who ultimately owe their allegiances to their respective coalitions?My view, Kidero is on his own.The very path he chose when he thought that a single election victory is directly proportionate to a successful political career.

Whatever happens in the next few days will be a major determinant on the future of Kidero as the governor of this prized county.If the Supreme Court reinstated him; then he will have had the luxury of a few more years to prove a shrewd and calculative politician.If it chooses to uphold the Court of Appeal verdict then the vultures will be ready to ensure the complete erasure of any traces of Kidero’s political career.

Ooko Victor