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Campaign teams begin hunt for financiers

By | Published Sun, February 12th 2012 at 00:00, Updated Sun, February 12th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By ISAAC ONGIRI

Campaign teams for leading presidential aspirants are hunting for local and international financiers to aid their kitties.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka have put in place formal campaign teams to mobilise and manage their resources.

Experts are projecting a billionaire’s battle in this election with estimates being floated at Sh4 billion at the minimum for one to put up a reasonable presidential campaign.

Former Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Brown Ondego heads Raila’s campaign team while former chief of protocol Mutuma Kathurima is leading the Kalonzo group.

And the Premier and VP have even gone a notch higher to set up offices in the diaspora to tap campaign resources.

The two teams have clear briefs from their masters to initiate a resource mobilisation project for their campaign drives.

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Every election time economically endowed individuals come up either publicly or secretly to inject millions of shillings into the campaigns of individuals whose policies and election manifestoes resonate with their interests.

Business moguls, wealthy religious leaders, successful entrepreneurs and financially endowed politicians have been targeted and approached by various political campaign teams for financial support.

Foreign governments with public and secret interests normally dispatch dollars through their privileged embassies.

Known for his deep pockets, Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama admitted he has injected millions of shillings into different campaign projects since the 2002 General Election to support individuals with credentials for good governance.

"I started contributing since 2002. I don’t want to say how much I contributed because I know the next question will be to whom?" he told The Standard On Sunday. Mr Muthama said his contributions to campaign kitties are done in good faith and for the benefit of the general population and pledged to do it again in the coming elections.

The act of political campaign teams enticing "moneybags" is not unique to Kenya, but a universal habit perfected by presidential aspirants in developed countries as well.

Early last week American billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson injected US$ 10 million (Sh830 million) into Republican front runner Newt Gingirich’s campaign accounts and promised a similar amount in due course.

Youthful businessman Mr Bosco Gichana remembered for donating the famous red Hummer used by Raila in his 2007 campaign revealed he has gone shopping for much more exotic brands for the party presidential campaign transport in the coming elections.

Gichana disclosed that he is particularly shopping for a branded Chrysler 300 limo series to be used in the ODM presidential campaigns.

Procuring

"The Hummer H2 we brought in 2007 cost me Sh9 million, but this time round I am already shopping for an inimitable limo brand for ODM campaigns," Gichana told The Standard On Sunday.

The businessman, however, said that together with a group of Kenyans keen on seeing change in governance they are in the process of procuring a Hummer, a self-contained campaign bus, with a conferencing and ambulance facilities and 20 branded Navarra pick-ups for the ODM campaigns.

"The cost of change is incomputable and so every penny we get must go into it. I don’t regret putting my money on this and I expect no returns but change," he said.

Though most successful businessmen are normally approached to support campaigns Mombasa based business mogul Mohamed Jaffer who is the Chairman and CEO of Grain Bulk Handling LTD told The Standard On Sunday he has never been requested by any political player to finance them.

"I don’t finance political activities I really do not engage in that at all," said the Mombasa-based billionaire.

Insisting he has not been approached to support any politician so far, flamboyant Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli warned that he would expose those who approach him.

"They fear me. I know, and by the way if any of them comes to solicit for cash to support their campaigns from me I would go public and expose them," Atwoli declared.

ODM deputy chief whip Benjamin Washiali, however, said that personal donations to support presidential campaigns is not a crime adding that the practice is popular even in the developed countries.

"We in ODM expect Kenyans of good will who are feeling our desire for change not to let our campaign coffers run dry when they can support. If they have the party interests at heart then let them chip in whatever they can," Washiali appealed.

Nyakach MP Polynce Ochieng’ said some philanthropic Kenyans prefer putting their donations into campaign kitties anonymously only revealing their identities to the principals themselves.


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