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For how long will hope inspire presidential race?

OPINION
By - | January 10th 2013

By OKECH KENDO

It takes grit to stand nearly alone on the pillars of stubborn hope when others are building alliances for the March 4 General Election.

It takes even greater courage for lonely presidential aspirants to still believe they can outrun stallion horses, which are bolting to the tape.

It is even curious the lonely presidential aspirants are yet to unveil their running mates, even though they may have identified their victims. They are probably keeping the best for last, say a woman-to-woman ticket for presidential aspirant Martha Karua.

It is even possible the co-ticket holder could be competitively recruited, with a clear understanding of the destination.

Even as others are building electoral mobs, Stoic Karua stands alone to avoid new tar that could taint her sheen. She already has a load, as a fair weather reformer. In Karua’s world, reforms can rest when one is in good stead with the power clique.

Electoral reforms took a rest when the Gichugu MP walked the corridors of President Kibaki’s court between 2002 and 2008. During the heyday of her hay, Karua was a ferocious defender of the Kibaki presidency.

Even the sharp-end of high-heeled shoes or a handbag could have been deployed to defend the Kibaki State House. Kibaki and Karua had arrived after a decade of elusive search for  president via the Democratic Party.

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As Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Karua cheered as President Kibaki appointed 18 of 22 electoral commissioners, who aided the bungling of the 2007 General Election.

Although Karua was party to the 1997 Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group accord that gave the opposition  a say in appointments of electoral commissioners, she changed position under President Kibaki. What was good for the goose in the turbulent 1990s was no longer nice for the gander in 2007.

Retaining power was the priority.

The power clique that counted Karua as one of its potent agents in the early days of the Kibaki regime, breached the gentleman’s agreement with impunity to help the President claim a second term in 2007.

Kenyans who can recall know Karua is not Angel Gabriel’s younger sister. Her political role in the disputed announcement of the results of the 2007 presidential election is memorable. But Karua missed a ticket to The Hague because she covered the ‘political aspects’ of the electoral dispute. She is yet to make full disclosure of the events at Kenyatta International Conference Centre as Kenyans waited for election results during the dark hours of December 28, 2007.

Karua’s iniquities though, if any, may not be as red as those of other presidential aspirants that she won’t touch for an alliance even with a ten-foot pole.

But even if the lonely presidential runners do not like electoral crowds, even where numbers decide show winners, they should not keep the electorate waiting.

This suspense is not good even for their own chances of losing a race they believe they can win.

Opinion pundits – and they are prowling for hire – are about to start speculating why the lonely presidential runners are getting solitary in this season of pre-election alliances. Some of their campaigns may be a study in how to cut costs of presidential runs.

Captive audience

Presidential aspirant Raphael Tuju is a good student of this strategy: Just find a captive congregation, join them on the Sabbath Day. You do not have to hire vehicles, tents, and chairs or facilitate an audience. If the pastor is liberal and appreciates sadaka from occasional VIP congregants, the man of God shall surely give you a minute to speak to the faithful. With the Press trailing, such appearances boost visibility at a lower cost.

Restore and Build Kenya presidential aspirant James ole Kiyiapi and Peter Kenneth are also good students of this strategy: It is presidential race made easy. It costs less in shilling terms, but politics with a spiritual hue has an impact on a heckling-free captive audience. You don’t need helmets – just the Bible and a solemn face.

Prof Kiyiapi’s showstopper expected last week at Ufungamano was mistreated. Although a media impatient with lonely presidential runners captured the professor of environmental science speaking, they did not show the audience.

Kiyiapi was saying nice things about his presidential agenda, especially the newsbyte – Operation Okoa Nchi.

He promises to create jobs, and internships for the youth, upgrade infrastructure, and fight corruption. But no TV station captured any of the 384 delegates at the professor’s big day.

There were no cheering crowds – just the professor talking like he was lecturing on ‘Third Generation Botanical Physiology of Dematatogical Species’.

There were no pundits to ‘analyse’ the news of the day as they do, when the big boys in the presidential race run riot and raid the public space.

Hope , no matter how stubborn and stoic, cannot win a race where real numbers – of sinners and believers in one basket – count.

Or it is possible some presidential aspirants are merely warming up for the future  – just to be on the ballot.  Prof Kiyiapi just got himself a ticket-mate: Welcome businesswoman Winnie Kaburu to your new world.

Running mates will have to be ‘motivated’ to understand why they should anchor a presidential race on hope – especially hopeless hope. They will have to know the destination of the race before buying into stubborn hope.

The writer is The Standard’s Managing Editor Quality and Production.

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