From the look of things, the 2017 General Election will be a high-stakes one. The heightened political activity and drama forewarn exciting, if somewhat unnerving, times. This election was not always going to be a high-stakes one. Not too long ago, a Jubilee victory seemed inevitable. Not anymore. The ground appears to have shifted.
How did we get here? Many people have linked this turn of events to failure of the Jubilee government to live up to the expectations of the population.
The evidence of ‘failure’ ranges from the ‘not-so-beautiful’ train coaches to absent stadia and screenshots of newspapers headlines on corruption (looting, if you will). These narratives, perpetuated strongly by Opposition leaders and their supporters appear to predominate the political space.
- 1 Senator Moi woos Nyanza to back BBI
- 2 Plans to change law cannot be stopped, Gideon declares
- 3 BBI document the best we have for now, says Gideon
- 4 Senator Moi condoles with Lokorio family
There is no doubt that the Jubilee government has failed to achieve all it promised. What is surprising is we are actually surprised by this turn of events. And this has nothing to do with those in leadership, but the nature of government. Government failure is not unusual. In fact, it is inevitable.
Granted, not all governments fail in the same way or even to the same extent, but all governments inevitably fail in one way or another.
The inability of Jubilee government to tick off all the boxes in the manifesto would not, in my view, be enough to turn the tide so strongly. It seems to me that reasonable citizens would leave enough room to allow a train that may not look exactly like the one they were promised or even expect that not every child will get a laptop.
After all, we know that campaign season is the time to expect theatrics and hyperbole. As the old adage goes, one campaigns in poetry but governs in prose. To expect politicians to fulfill every promise they make is to set yourself up for serious disappointment.
In my view, it is on the political front that Jubilee has floundered. And, this is what will cost them energy in this election season.
I am big fan of the popular TV show, Game of Thrones.
One of my most favourite scenes is when Tywin Lannister, the patriarch of House Lannister, is giving counsel to his younger grandson Tommen, who is set to become King of Westeros after the demise of his elder brother, Joffrey.
As he goes down the list of failed kings and their faults, he makes mention of King Robert, the boys’ ‘father’, whose folly lay in thinking that winning and ruling are the same thing. Herein lies the rub for our digital brigade.
It still puzzles me to this date that even with every indication that they should have known better, the Jubilee team transported the idea of ‘tyranny of numbers’ from the campaign into the government.
Managing public affairs has therefore had the feel of a badly run campaign since 2013, for the simple reason that the complexity of government does not always lend itself well to campaigns.
You campaign to win so that you can govern; not to campaign some more.
As a result, the government has come off as being arrogant and unresponsive to the needs of those Kenyans who don’t belong to the Jubilee support bases. And these perceptions have persisted even when reality suggests otherwise. This feeling of exclusion has served to energise the old opponents and to create new ones making the journey to victory unnecessarily harder for Jubilee.
A change of tact in the lead up to the election will serve them well. Most importantly, they must avoid opening unnecessary battle fronts, especially within friendly camps. For instance, there is little value to be gained from, and much to be lost by, fighting supporters like Peter Munya and Gideon Moi.