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Opposition outsmarting Jubilee in campaigns

By Herman Manyora | Updated Tue, July 18th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3
Nominated MP Oburu Oginga, NASA Presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga and Homa Bay Women Rep Gladys Wanga consult during a political rally at Kendu Bay Show ground in Homa Bay county on July 17, 2017. BY JAMES OMORO

As the campaigns enter the homestretch, it is becoming clear Jubilee has a rougher ride than NASA.

Its challenges are indeed daunting. First, for Jubilee to win, they must keep their core base intact by keeping NASA off the Gema and Kalenjin vote.

For the Kalenjin vote, Jubilee must first reduce Isaac Ruto to a mere irritant, incapable of giving NASA a foothold among the Kipsigis. This may not be a realistic expectation on the part of Jubilee as it is becoming increasingly clear that Ruto will deliver some votes to NASA.

And even if they succeed in keeping NASA out of the South Rift, they will still face challenges in the bandit-prone counties of Baringo, Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu, Laikipia and West Pokot.

The ongoing security operations in most of these counties have not endeared the Government to the people.

The other challenge in the Rift Valley is posed by Kanu’s support for President Uhuru Kenyatta to the exclusion of Ruto, his deputy. And because Kanu is in competition with Jubilee for the other elective seats, the possibility of Kanu sulking towards NASA is real.

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Kanu influence

Kanu’s Gideon Moi supports Uhuru, but has his own ambitions. A careful analysis of this will show that it is in the interest of Gideon Moi that Uhuru loses this election because a Uhuru victory comes with William Ruto.

Hence, it would be difficult dealing with William Ruto in 2022 because, circa 2020, Uhuru would be a lame-duck president and William Ruto would be the man with power. This is why, except for Gideon Moi, the top Kanu leadership could be with NASA.

In the Mt Kenya region, Jubilee would have to deal with rebellion in Nyambene and Tharaka, areas that feel Jubilee has neglected them, choosing instead to favour the Imenti.

Raila’s reception in Meru recently is something to worry Jubilee, and they must deal with it in the remaining short time, otherwise Raila Odinga will run away with some votes from Meru.

This is a big challenge to Jubilee because the Nyambene have a history of political rebellion that saw them elect Ford-Kenya and Kanu candidates when the Democratic Party of Mwai Kibaki was the undisputed choice of the Gema people.

Remember, in the election of 2013, they went against the Jubilee wave to elect two ODM MPs. Furthermore, this section of Meru has in the recent past shown evidence of open rebellion to the Jubilee leadership.

ALSO READ: Kapsoya ward candidate who lost three children launches his bid

And Jubilee’s problems in the Mt Kenya region do not end there, as there is palpable apathy caused by what residents say is lack of tangible benefit from their son.

The lack of interest is also due to the pinch felt by the kikuyu business class who, like everybody else, is suffering from a poorly performing economy.

This lack of interest was evident when the area, especially Nyeri, failed to register well in the last mass voter registration exercise early this year. Jubilee had to send very prominent personalities but the result was not impressive.

Single term

Jubilee also faces the possibility of being a one-term administration because of the challenge of getting the “top-up” votes they need from among the Luhya, Kamba, Kisii and Coastal communities. For Jubilee to win, they have to garner an average of 20 per cent from each of these communities, a clearly impossible task.

Going by what Jubilee got in these areas in the last election, and given that except for Kisii, the ground is much more anti-Jubilee this time than in 2013, it is difficult to see how Jubilee will garner the 20 per cent that they so much need from these areas (nothing is more laughable than the assertion from Jubilee that they have a higher penetration in these areas than in 2013).

Now, in the absence of these top-up votes, it is difficult to see how Jubilee can win this election especially because their fortunes have dwindled in North-Eastern and in Maasailand.

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In North-Eastern Province, NASA has a high penetration especially among the youths who seem fiercely anti-Jubilee. And in Maasailand, Jubilee has all but lost the entire Maa vote.

Bruised Jubilee

In the 2013 election, the Somali and Maasai gave Jubilee significant votes and it is therefore difficult to see how Jubilee will win this election if these votes are removed from its basket.

The picture that emerges from the above analysis is of a bruised Jubilee limping towards the election that’s only three weeks away.

Although it is still possible for Jubilee to come from behind and overtake NASA by exploiting NASA’s myriad blunders and poor finish, it is still, nevertheless, a herculean task given that the NASA magic is bringing more on board.

And Jubilee is not making things better for itself by ignoring significant segments of society such as the striking nurses and lecturers.
On the balance of probability, therefore, this election is for NASA to lose. And they can.

 

Mr Manyora is a lecturer at the University of Nairobi

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