Cord, Jubilee strategies for 2013 poll victory

By PETER OPIYO and VITALIS KIMUTAI

Reform, ethnicity and generational change will define the State House battle between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Uhuru Kenyatta in the days leading up to elections on March 4, next year.

The two will battle over who can best claim to be a reformist and convince voters that he can unite the country and ensure a smooth transition of leadership to the post-Independence generation. Raila and his running Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, under the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord), have packaged their alliance as a defender of the new Constitution, referencing this on Raila’s documented battles for multi-party democracy and a new Constitution. In the face of Cord’s reformist tag, Uhuru and Ruto have billed their alliance as the bridge to the “Digital” generation, defined as the youth and Cord as the “Analogue” party locked in the past and responsible for Kenya’s many problems.

Raila and Kalonzo have said Cord is non-tribal, represents the face of Kenya and seeks to unite the country by ensuring the Constitution is fully implemented alongside economic reforms.

And in the absence of any published manifestos, both Jubilee and Cord are laying claim to the successes of the Grand Coalition government and blaming each other for the failures.

After accepting his nomination to be Raila’s running mate, Kalonzo said Cord would fully implement the new laws and improve infrastructure, health services and education.

“We must fully implement the Constitution and this is why this election is the most pivotal in our life,” said Kalonzo.

His team has also dismissed the Jubilee Alliance as tribal, saying it is only aimed at championing the interests of Uhuru and Ruto. But Ruto was equally quick to counter this.

“If our competitors think this election will be defined by ethnicity, they are damn wrong. This poll will be defined by problems facing 40 million Kenyans and solutions for those problems,” said Ruto.

They are intent on branding Cord a group of old guard leaders with nothing new to offer, and who must bear the blame for Kenya’s problems. They say reforms have been provided for in the Constitution and what remains is how to implement them.

“Cord is promising reforms yet that has been achieved through the enactment of a new Constitution and the policies in the Vision 2030. They are simply living in the past and Jubilee has a clear roadmap to address the problems facing the country,” Turkana Central MP Ekwee Ethuro said.

Tactics to win

“This is a contest of one generation that is assembling the machinery to go into retirement (Cord) and one (Jubilee) that believes in reforms and performance. The issues are as clear as day is from night,” said Ruto.

But analysts have warned voters to think hard about the pledges being made by political leaders and not accept them wholesale.

Mr Felix Odhiambo, who is the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy’s county director, dismissed these as tactics to win votes.

 “Promises made by the coalitions are strategies for getting votes, they are often unrealistic and not binding. What they need is to translate them into tangible policy positions so the public can measure them,” said Odhiambo.  He said pledges by the political leaders must be clearly spelt out in their manifestos so the public can gauge whether they are attainable.

 “Just to claim you are running on generational change or reforms is not enough,” he noted.

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chief executive Mr Apollo Mboya was more accommodating, saying that some of the pledges are attainable, but should be measurable.

 “The pledges are attainable, but we should have a monitoring mechanism so that we can actualise the promises that they give to us,” said Mr Mboya.

The caliber of the current crop of leaders, he said, is mixed up and the changes that may come would depend on the character of the leaders Kenyans elect on March 4 next year.

“Some of these leaders have integrity issues, others have good records,” said Mboya.

The chief executive of Mars Group, Mr Mwalimu Mati, said Kenyans must be sceptical of the promises because the two coalitions are more alike than different and represent the status quo.

 “Those people who are condoning corruption have no business telling Kenyans they can change the country. You can’t have the status quo reforming anything,” said Mati.

 He added that real change could only come through implementation of the Agenda Four component of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act that ended the 2008 post-election violence.

 “The political class in the race represents the status quo. Since the National Accord was signed, there is nothing they have done. Agenda Four is better than Vision 2030 because it deals with the past and charts the way forward. If they could not implement it then we cannot trust them to change the country,” said Mr Mati.

The Jubilee Alliance claimed they are better placed to ensure the goals of Vision 2030, Kenya’s social and economic development blueprint, are attained. But Cord said Uhuru and Ruto had never been reformists and that in 2010, Ruto even opposed the new Constitution that was overwhelmingly endorsed by Kenyans.

“They did not want the new Constitution and cannot be trusted to implement it,” Raila pointed out.

Subsidies for farmers

Both Cord and Jubilee have pledged to steer the economy back to double-digit growth in five years once they take up tenancy at State House. In addition Jubilee is promising universal health care, subsidies for farmers to boost food security and jobs for youths and setting the stage for business to flourish.

Cord has attributed Kenya’s problems to poverty, saying their government would create more jobs to alleviate poverty and improve the general welfare of Kenyans. “We have seen the result in expanded road-building, accelerated growth through ICT, and successful irrigation projects in arid and semi-arid lands.

While we continue with this work, I now pledge that we shall again invest heavily in three things: One, Jobs! Two, Jobs! Three, Jobs!” said Raila.

Raila promised his government would reform the Kenya Industrial Estates to establish incubation centres in each county, so that people can acquire locally the skills they need to get jobs.

 “We intend to invest in rural and cottage industries and to foster transformation through a good-neighbour system, so that community efforts help each and every person to build his or her house, to plough his or her land, to reap in good time whatever has been sowed,” he added.

Uhuru on his part praised Ruto’s tenure as Agriculture Minister saying the Eldoret North MP gave his best while serving in the docket.

“We rolled out irrigation programs in Tana, Bura and Holla alongside those in Pokot and Turkana when we were in government besides providing subsidies to farmers, but since Ruto was unceremoniously removed from the Agriculture Ministry, the programs have stalled,” Uhuru said at the endorsement of his presidential bid at Kasarani on Sunday.

Also in Jubilee’s plan is to plug the teachers’ gap by employing more tutors. It is estimated the country lacks 70,000 teachers.

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Raila Odinga Uhuru Kenyatta