Keny­atta har­vests grass­roots re­wards

Lo­cal strat­egy pro­vided foun­da­tion for elec­tion vic­tory, ex­perts say

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

NAIROBI — Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta won re­elec­tion in last week’s vote largely due to an en­hanced grass­roots cam­paign strat­egy and gains from the east African coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, ex­perts said on Satur­day.

Ac­cord­ing to State House spokesper­son Manoah Esip­isu, the Keny­atta cam­paign held more than 400 ral­lies as part of an in­tense pro­gram, par­tic­u­larly in the fi­nal week.

Bob Wekesa, re­search as­so­ciate of the China-Africa Re­port­ing Project at the Uni­ver­sity of Wit­wa­ter­srand in South Africa, at­trib­uted Keny­atta’s vic­tory to the cam­paign strat­egy his Ju­bilee Party adopted at the grass­roots level, which is ed­u­cat­ing vot­ers about its poli­cies.

“The modus operandi of cam­paign­ing by Ju­bilee was well thought out and this ex­plains why it pen­e­trated into op­po­si­tion’s strongholds in­clud­ing win­ning eight par­lia­men­tary seats in West­ern Kenya,” said Wekesa, adding that Ju­bilee did more foot­work than the op­po­si­tion.

Ob­servers also note that Keny­atta’s well-fi­nanced cam­paigns pro­duced more ef­fec­tive ad­ver­tis­ing. David Otieno, a Ph.D. can­di­date in political sci­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Nairobi, be­lieves Keny­atta won also “be­cause he chose na­tion­al­ism over mere political ex­pe­di­ency”.

Otieno cited “reg­u­lar calls for unity and an elec­tion slo­gan of 45-mil­lion-strong,” which means Keny­atta’s party serves the coun­try’s to­tal 45 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion, in sharp com­par­i­son to the op­po­si­tion’s 10-mil­lion-strong — to get 10 mil­lion votes out of the 19.6 mil­lion elec­torate.

“He toured every county to its grass­roots sev­eral times as he asked for votes. Fur­ther to this, his ask­ing for votes was pred­i­cated on a de­vel­op­men­tal model that was not con­de­scend­ing to any tribe,” he said.

Otieno also links Keny­atta’s win to his scores in in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, cit­ing the 480-kilo­me­ter stan­dard gauge rail­way, put into op­er­a­tion in May be­tween the cap­i­tal Nairobi and the south­east­ern port city of Mom­basa and which is ex­pected to add 1.5 per­cent growth to Kenya’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

An­other project is the 360 km Isi­olo-Moyale high­way, which has opened the trade cor­ri­dor with Ethiopia.

Ac­cord­ing to Otieno, Keny­atta also worked to ex­pand spe­cial­ized med­i­cal ser­vices in­clud­ing dial­y­sis, and to dou­ble the cov­er­age of the Na­tional Hos­pi­tal In­sur­ance Fund to 6 mil­lion peo­ple. Among his other records are im­proved dig­i­tal ed­u­ca­tion and en­larged pop­u­la­tion with ac­cess to elec­tric power.

Keny­atta was also ap­plauded for high-level ex­changes with lead­ers of China, the United States, Europe and the Mid­dle East, trade deals, con­ces­sional loan agree­ments, and more in­ter­na­tional meet­ings Kenya hosts.

For­eign Min­is­ter Amina Mo­hammed said Keny­atta greatly helps Kenya in its ef­forts to en­trench its lead­er­ship as a re­gional eco­nomic power as well as to achieve global com­pet­i­tive­ness.

“Diplo­macy is con­ducted through face-to-face en­gage­ments and meet­ings. Kenya is a very im­por­tant coun­try in the south­ern hemi­sphere, be­ing the only cap­i­tal in the de­vel­op­ing world to host a United Na­tions of­fice,” Mo­hammed said.

“These ef­forts and for­eign trips by Keny­atta, have borne pos­i­tive re­sults,” she said, not­ing that for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in­flows into Kenya have risen up and “the in­vest­ments have re­sulted in the cre­ation of jobs and wealth.”

Mean­while, the coun­try was quiet on Sun­day af­ter post­elec­tion vi­o­lence left 24 peo­ple dead.

There have been re­peated calls on the de­feated op­po­si­tion to calm their sup­port­ers.

THOMAS MUKOYA / REUTERS

Kenya’s in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta holds the of­fi­cial cer­tifi­cate af­ter he was an­nounced win­ner of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Nairobi on Fri­day.

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