THE JUBILEE PARTY IS NOW UNDER SIEGE
Opposition has linked the Kenyatta family to an alleged Sh5.6bn corruption scandal
The Jubilee Party is under fire from Cord leader Raila Odinga and ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi because of corruption allegations in the government.
On October 28, Raila, in an unprecedented move, linked Nyokabi Muthama and Kathleen Kihanya of the Kenyatta family to an alleged Sh5.2 billion corruption scheme at the Health ministry. Though the truth and veracity of the allegations are yet to be established, the damage has already been done, even though the President was only linked indirectly.
Kihanya, in a hastily convened and ill-advised press conference, did not deny that through a jointly owned company, she and Uhuru’s youngest sister Nyokabi had done business with the ministry of Health. That had the effect, in John Githongo’s words, of debunking a long held belief that the Kenyatta family was too wealthy to engage in corruption. Perception is a very powerful tool in politics. The opposition has scored big by recklessly linking Kenya’s “royal family” to a scam. That President Uhuru Kenyatta responded with undiluted anger and vitriol did not help matters. On the contrary, it confirmed the opposition had struck a raw nerve in hitting so close to home.
Propaganda in the right hands is a powerful weapon that can be employed with devastating effects. Cord’s propaganda engines are running rings around a clueless Jubilee team. They have managed to successfully portray the Jubilee administration as a team of “robber barons” out to mortgage the country to foreigners through borrowing big loans and embezzling them, leaving Kenyans to pay the debts for generations. It’s a perception that is gaining ground amongst the populace and is frustrating ardent supporters. These wild claims and unsubstantiated allegations have caused disaffection towards the government. When the EACC takes the move to harass the Auditor General and investigate his personal accounts, it only reinforces the opposition’s argument that the government has skeletons to hide in its closet. As the Jubilee Ark prepares to sail without Noah (Wekesa) but under coxswain Raphael Tuju, it behoves them to look at the bigger picture and employ their propaganda machinery more effectively.
President Uhuru goes to the 2017 election as the incumbent. This has its downfalls as candidates tend to be given credit or blamed depending on what they did during their term in office. The government has launched good projects which have not been properly publicised.
Jubilee has failed to take full credit for its good deeds which include some transformational projects such as the standard gauge railway. They must re-engineer their image and counter the opposition’s narrative of a government headed for disaster. Corruption and poor management of the economy are powerful weapons when employed to fight an incumbent administration. The opposition has adopted a combination of strategies they used during the 2005 referendum — in which one community was depicted as being incorrigibly corrupt — and the 1992 US presidential campaign — in which George W Bush was opposed on account of an under-performing economy — ultimately losing to Bill Clinton.This, coupled with the possibility of fronting a single candidate under the Super Alliance, poses a monumental challenge to Jubilee.
JP should be well-advised to drop its obsession with the 2022 general election, behaving as if they have won the 2017 race. It is presumptuous and callous. It breaks the cardinal rule of never under-estimating an opponent and leads to over-confidence, a fertile garden for errors.