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Tough times lie ahead for Jubilee Party

By Alexander Chagema | February 18th 2016

NAIROBI: The win by Peoples Patriotic Party of Kenya (PPPK) in the Nyongores Ward by-election in Bomet County is remarkable.

There are no guarantees in a situation where motley people decide the political fate of others through the ballot.

Indications might be strong, but the final outcome is never always a certainty.

In the Democratic party primaries in New Hampshire in the United States recently, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders beat front runner Hilary Clinton despite all the odds in her favour; wealth, current position in government, wife of former president Bill Clinton and that she is clearly President Barrack Obama’s favourite to succeed him as he leaves office in November.

Evidently, local politicians who have been doing the same things repeatedly while expecting different results have woken up to reality.

The dynamics are changing as focus shifts from merely expecting votes to ensuring people have the requisite documents to eventually cast the votes.

Ensuring that eligible voters get identification cards and register en masse to shore up their numbers in readiness for 2017 is suddenly of primary concern.

In Western and Nyanza regions where the Opposition enjoys a sizeable number of followers, voter turnout has always been a disappointment; looked at against the population and registered voters in previous elections.

Propaganda is another potent tool that is being put to good use. In Machakos County, for instance, against the Wiper Party’s ideology, Governor Alfred Mutua has been playing mind games with the residents; trying to make them embrace his concepts and coming up with lofty ideas that could work given time and backing but which have been discredited and ridiculed because of his lone-ranger tactics.

There are those in Government who would have loved to replicate the part played by Joseph Goebbels during the time of Adolf Hitler.

He became Hitler’s propaganda minister and did a very good and effective job of it.

Whereas Goebbels was directed by the Hitler ideology, however misguided or disgusting, our propagandists are at ease dealing with personalities which, unfortunately, have limited scope.

Mr Goebbels lasted several years but ours suffer burnout inside a month at most, explaining the long list of scandals and allegations that have no answers and which fizzle out as soon as they are started.

Until recently, the Jubilee Alliance Party has been sitting pretty; complacency never lurking far from the surface, but that feeling of smugness and invincibility was shattered in the Nyongores ward by-election last week.

It would however be naive to claim that Jubilee is fast becoming unpopular after failing to recapture the Nyongores ward seat, but the party itself has done more than enough to create such perception.

The ecstasy that welcomed the election of Jubilee died a long time ago when the hard realities came knocking and shattered the high expectations citizens had.

The promised Canaan has not even been spotted on the horizon yet. The milk and butter have not been forthcoming.

The disagreements within the United Republican Party that pit Deputy President William Ruto against Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto have allowed cracks to appear in Jubilee, which circumstances have conspired to widen.

Differences between the two Rutos put the senior at a disadvantage because some view him as a tyrant throwing his weight around, even when that may not necessarily be the case.

The Opposition has also created a very negative perception about the deputy president whom they have tried to link to every scandal that surfaces.

As time runs out, the deputy president will be hard pressed to shed that negative perception, which could now be taking its toll.

The re-emergence of the Kenya African National Union (Kanu) is something Jubilee legislators scoffed at, seeing no challenge as they concentrated on warding off Cord.

Today Jubilee has too much on its hands. If the assumption was that Kanu would join and be swallowed by Jubilee, it was wide off the mark.

Kanu bigwigs and Governor Isaac Ruto campaigned for the PPPK candidate and won convincingly.

Intuition tells me the cock will flap its wings and crow in the Kericho Senate seat by-election in March, and that the Malindi constituency seat will be Cord's to lose.

Cord, however, is out in full combat gear; paint, spears and all, beating the drums of war.

Now, if Jubilee loses the Kericho Senate seat and the Malindi parliamentary seat to make it three in a row, then it has a serious fight on its hands in 2017.

Unlike Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga who have no opposition in their backyards, nearly all the old hands at politics in the Rift Valley are working against William Ruto.

The United Republican Party (URP) could be the chink in the Jubilee chain that could snap the projected, uninterrupted long chain link to the presidency in the 2022 General Election.

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