Devise better ways of picking running mates

Deputy President William Ruto congratulates Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua moment after declaring him his running mate in the forthcoming August polls. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Kenya Kwanza alliance unveiled Rigathi Gachagua as its deputy president designate for the August 9, 2022 general election. He will be Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate against the Azimio team whose presidential flag bearer is Raila Odinga. His running mate will be unveiled today.

Kenya Kwanza was initially set to announce Ruto’s running mate on Saturday but internal jostling and discontent rendered it impossible to do so until yesterday. Even then, it took intense lobbying and jostling to name a running mate. Due to such push and pull, we must come up with a structured way of choosing running mates to avoid infighting and feelings of exclusion. To some extent, it is clear that our choices are based on factors such loyalty to party leaders, one’s contribution to campaigns, ethnic numerical strength and regionalism, among others.

It is not lost on Kenyans that major parties have been sizing each other up, trying to find out who the running mate in the opposite camp would be, before making their announcements. Luckily, time is not on their side. The electoral agency had earlier planned to gazette April 28 as the deadline for naming running mates but pushed the date to May 16 to allow parties more time to make their picks.

The choice of running mates in Azimio La Umoja and Kenya Kwanza has generated a lot of heat. In Azimio La Umoja, Wiper leader Kalonzo has categorically stated that if Raila does not pick him as a running mate, he will take a walk.

Such demands not only hold communities, citizens and party leaders to ransom, they fly in the face of democratic ideals that advocate a fair vetting process acceptable to all. The secretiveness of choosing running mates also holds the potential for chaos whenever unrealistic demands are not met. Even after Kenya Kwanza made its pick, vestiges of discontent linger.

A running mate is someone just a heartbeat away from the presidency hence, the choice of such individuals should be guided by rules that safeguard the integrity of the Office of the President. Haphazard nominations are bad for national cohesion.