Graft, debt likely to dominate running mates debate

UDA's presidential running mate Rigathi Gachagua and Azimio's Martha Karua are expected to face the panel later today.

Presidential running mates are expected to face off over various issues of public interest during the presidential debate today.

The much-anticipated debate is expected to be charged, considering the experience in public service and politics of Azimio's Martha Karua and Rigathi Gachagua of the United Democratic Alliance. This will be a curtain raiser for the presidential debate slated for July 26.

Unlike the Nairobi governor debate last week that had the candidates argue over how they are going to serve the electorate in the county, the presidential running mates are likely to delve deeper into issues affecting the country such as corruption, the high cost of living, and the debt crisis.

Unlike the rallies where politicians push through self-serving rhetoric, the Presidential Debate 2022 Secretariat believes the platform offers Kenyans an opportunity to cut through the politics and understand the real issues.

"In a country of diverse voices, the debate will bring clarity to issues. It is important to allow the voter to make informed decisions and offer an opportunity to hold leaders accountable,” says Head of Secretariat Clifford Machoka.

Nonetheless, Deputy President William Ruto's Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Raila Odinga's Azimio have mounted a spirited campaign against corruption. Azimio has pledged to declare corruption a security threat within the first 100 days and establish a Corruption Surveillance Taskforce in the security forces.

Similarly, Kenya Kwanza has promised to focus on strengthening institutions to battle corruption independently.

With a promise of an economic revolution, Ms Karua is expected to defend the economic strategies in the Azimio manifesto such as the Sh6,000 stimulus package for the vulnerable, low-interest loans for the youth, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Mr Gachagua will be speaking to the middle to lower-income demographic targeted by the bottom-up economic model. Kenya Kwanza has promised to set up a Sh50 billion annual ‘Hustlers fund’ to ease access to affordable credit to 10 million micro and small enterprises.

The debate will offer an opportunity for rebuttals from the moderators. Presidential running mates will challenge each other’s position and show Kenyans which side has the efficacy to deliver promises.

Three out of the four running mates are women with the first tier of the debate between Agano Party presidential running mate Ruth Mucheru and Roots Party’s Justina Wambui slated to run from 5pm to 7.30pm.

Ms Karua and Mr Gachagua will face off between 8pm and 10pm.

Pushing for the legalisation and commercial farming of marijuana to offset the Sh8.6 trillion public debt, Ms Wambui will face Ms Mucheru whose manifesto speaks on recovering trillions of shillings stashed in offshore accounts for use in nation building.

Women in leadership and the two-thirds gender rule are also likely to feature during the debate at a time the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Office of Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) are pushing to ensure gender balance in the political parties' nomination process.

The debate will be broadcast live on radio, TV stations and digital platforms.