THE JU­BILEE PARTY IS NOW UN­DER SIEGE

Op­po­si­tion has linked the Keny­atta fam­ily to an al­leged Sh5.6bn cor­rup­tion scan­dal

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices - DAUDI MWENDA Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor

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.

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