The political opposition Coalition for reform and Democracy (Cord) should remember that it will not be a walk in the park for President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Coalition to hand over power in 2017.
However, if Cord will garner votes resoundingly like what NARC did in 2002 when Kibaki was first elected, then President Uhuru Kenyatta may find himself with only one option- to concede.
The incumbent Uhuru, may also want to safeguard his legacy if Cord wins resoundingly. Such a move is likely to ensure that he doesn’t soil family’s name in future contests. This will maintain the trust of Kenyans to the family.
However, if the elections will be too close like what happened in Tanzania between President John Magufuli and his main rival Edward Lowassa last year, Jubilee will take advantage of this where Cord will cry foul but to no fruition. On the other hand, the metrics of 2013 election results will equally be a disaster for Cord.
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Cord, should avoid handling their campaign the way they did in 2013.They need a clear strategy devoid of complacence, craft a catchy manifesto which appeals to the populace and ensure a fair and orderly handling of fallouts after party nominations. Above all, identifying a formidable Presidential candidate democratically will deflect a Musalia Mudavadi scenario of 2013.
The Jubilee coalition is lethal in its calculations. Whichever strategy Uhuru used to kill the ICC dragon, the lesson he has learnt as president, and his closeness with two East African leaders- Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda whose democratic curriculum vitae are questionable, should put Cord on the alert.
What may help Cord to strengthen itself is to pursue the OKOA Kenya referendum with gusto and determination. This will ensure that, the proposed recommendations like reforming the IEBC to provide a level playing field in the contest are factored in law before the next election.
The opposition should also remember that in Africa, incumbency is pivotal in determining election outcomes. This is because, they control all tentacles of governance which is often used to catalyse victory.
The Jubilee government has been embroiled in numerous financial scandals. Funds have vanished like the Malaysian aircraft without a trace. If the end users happen to be top politicians in Jubilee, this will critically affect the outcome of the election. The stolen money is likely to be used to entice voters, funding candidates and buying defectors from the opposition.
The yet to be launched Jubilee Party of Kenya is riding on a high horse. Through a charm offensive carried out by deputy president Ruto, it is luring opposition legislators with goodies in the Coast and Western Kenya. Things will get murky for Cord as we stride towards 2017.
Many mysterious financial improprieties have been reported on public expenditure. Notably, the government has been fuzzy on the Eurobond and the projects it funded. This was brought to the fore by Raila Odinga.
Secondly, the auditor General’s revelation last year how a whopping Sh67 billion could not be accounted for remains as mysterious as the dark side of the moon. To add insult to injury, Sh 303 was declared unaccounted for during the transition from Kibaki presidency to Uhuru Presidency. The informed can figure out where the money may have disappeared to.
This should catalyze the opposition Cord not to sleep on its tail and expect victory on a silver platter. Since Raila Odinga of Cord is likely to face the incumbent, next year, he needs to think critically with his co-principals- former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Senator Moses Wetangula on how they will face the moneyed Jubilee in 2017.
Cord needs to build their campaign on a better strategy as opposed to Jubilee which is only riding on money. Bringing to the fold former politicians like Dr Sally Kosgey, Henry Kosgey, and Kipruto Arap Kirwa who are currently silent will spur Cord’s support base in the vote-rich Rift Valley. In the North eastern Kenya, Senator Billow Kerrow who is one of the dissenting leaders in Jubilee needs to be prevailed upon to join Cord.
It is up to the cord coalition to do its math well if indeed they are serious with taking power from Jubilee which is swimming from crisis to crisis.
Cord should wake up from its slumber bed and craft a technical and well planned election victory formula to outshine the moneyed jubilee which has the advantage of incumbency. Until then, we are closely watching.
Joseph Lister Nyaringo, USA
William Ntoina, Great Britain