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We’re not among the idle ‘swing vote’ blocs

By Chris Obure | August 12th 2012

By Chris Obure

I have been following the delicate account of key swing votes with interest. This is mainly because Kisii, my birthplace, is being lumped into this category together with the Meru region (or generally upper Eastern), Bukusuland, and Coast as possible deciders of who wins the presidency.

Others predict that these vote blocs could eventually be game changers in the final lap to State House.

One major characteristic about these so-called ‘key swing vote’ communities revolves around the perception that they may not have one of their own as a key presidential candidate or big political party that resonates well with their aspirations.

On my part as a political leader who has been around for quite some time, I prefer to view all those Kenyan men and women who have come forward to succeed President Kibaki as Kenyan patriots out to serve all of us. I disagree with those who view them through ethnic or regional lenses, akin to mere conveyors of regional or ethnic interests in the presidential race. Most commentators, including the media, have opted for the later.

In that case, ODM’s Raila Odinga, TNA’s Uhuru Kenyatta, URP’s William Ruto, UDF’s Musalia Mudavadi, and Narc-Kenya’s Martha Karua have found themselves easily stereotyped as belonging to and pushing some mundane sectarian interests. This is unfair to them and undermines democracy and national cohesion.

However, those balkanising our national politics in this manner should be reminded that majority of Kenyans value national unity and harmony.

Thus, they want to interrogate presidential aspirants and parties in terms of how they will boost nationalism, national cohesion, and socio-economic wellbeing of the country.

No conscious Kenyan person or community is keen to form political unions that are aimed at perpetrating divisions, inequalities, ethnic or regional complexes or economic apartheid to favour and hurt fellow countrymen. That is the spirit of our new Constitution. That is the main objective that our founding fathers had when they risked their lives to wrestle out the British colonialists.

With that broader view of the elections, I have reviewed the categorisation of Gusiiland (plus the Gusii diaspora) as a swing vote with a lot of concern. Those behind this branding should give us a break.

Global community

Our people are enlightened enough. They have willingly integrated themselves with other Kenyans at home and countrywide, plus, of course venturing overseas where they have actively played their role as part of the global community. That is why many are engaged meaningfully and progressively in other Kenyan and international communities. That is why there is a Mkisii (non half cast) elected mayor in such a far off land like Canada.

These are a modern people who want to belong to Kenya as a whole and the world rather than to be sandwiched in some geographical corner for political manipulation.

The insinuation of ‘swing vote’ therefore alludes to the possibility of engineering a mob mentality among our voters to foolishly vote for other interests other than our own. Same to the other good Kenyans so branded ‘swing vote’ communities. That is offensive and unfair.

It should go on record that the Abagusii will go to the elections to strictly vote for themselves.

By this I mean, they have their own interests, grievances and aspirations (they are in sync with those of other Kenyans), which they want addressed by those leaders they will elect.  No tricks and short cuts will help anybody win our votes. The people want real issues affecting them to be the focus of the elections and to be tackled as priority.

Politicians, local and national who promise convincing and practical solutions to Gusii problems should carry the day.

But be reminded that such promises will only be acceptable if they are made by leaders who are believable and whose track records prove fidelity to service delivery to the people.

No room for the empty parroting of political tricksters. This also will apply to political parties, which to us in Gusiiland must be national and progressive.

Therefore, any presidential aspirant or political party salivating for the Gusii vote should know the people will not give in to money or ethnic propaganda. Like other Kenyans they want progressive leadership.

The writer is Bobasi MP and Public Works minister


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