KENYA’S TRUMP MO­MENT

The ideal con­di­tions ex­ist, in­clud­ing un­prece­dented lev­els of cor­rup­tion, ex­clu­sion of cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties from gov­ern­ment, poverty, un­em­ploy­ment, high cost of liv­ing and hope­less­ness

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices - DAUDI MWENDA Com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant

There were some in­trigu­ing par­al­lels be­tween the ap­proval of the Brexit ref­er­en­dum in the UK in June and the stun­ning elec­tion of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump. Vot­ers ag­gres­sively uni­fied across ide­o­log­i­cal lines in op­po­si­tion. De­spite hav­ing been de­scribed by me­dia as prim­i­tive, racist, xeno­pho­bic, sex­ist and ir­ra­tional, Trump caused one of the big­gest up­sets in mod­ern his­tory. He will be the 45th Pres­i­dent of the US come Jan­uary 20.

It is now emerg­ing that in­sti­tu­tions of author­ity in the West have relentlessly, and with com­plete in­dif­fer­ence, stomped on the eco­nomic welfare and so­cial se­cu­rity of hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple. Whilst they gorged them­selves on glob­al­ism, free trade, Wall Street casino gam­bling and end­less wars that en­riched the per­pe­tra­tors and aban­doned the poor­est and most marginalised to bear their bur­dens, they com­pletely ig­nored the vic­tims of their glut­tony. These in­sti­tu­tions and elite fac­tions have spent years mock­ing, ma­lign­ing and pil­lag­ing large por­tions of the pop­u­la­tion all the while com­pil­ing their own record of fail­ure and cor­rup­tion.

Brexit and Trump were an­gry protest votes in re­tal­i­a­tion against sys­tems rife with cor­rup­tion and con­tempt for the cit­i­zenry and their welfare. The lead­er­ship lost touch with the peo­ple and failed to de­tect the in­tense but in­vis­i­ble re­sent­ment that had sim­mered un­der the sur­face for decades. Many are ask­ing whether Kenya is now ready for a “Brexit-Trump mo­ment”.

The ideal con­di­tions cer­tainly ex­ist, in­clud­ing un­prece­dented lev­els of cor­rup­tion, mafia-like car­tels, ex­clu­sion of cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties from gov­ern­ment, poverty, un­em­ploy­ment, a high cost of liv­ing, hope­less­ness and a gen­eral sense of dis­il­lu­sion­ment.

Our method of vot­ing, how­ever, mil­i­tates against a Brexit-Trump Mo­ment. Kenyan vot­ing trends dur­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions are at best an eth­nic cen­sus. Tribes rally be­hind their can­di­dates, giv­ing those in con­trol of the most pop­u­lous eth­nic en­claves a dis­tinct ad­van­tage. This makes the emer­gence of an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date dif­fi­cult as all are clas­si­fied within eth­nic lines.

One can state with a cer­tain level of ac­cu­racy that the only gen­uine elec­tion held in Kenya was in 2002, when Narc won by a land­slide. Im­me­di­ately af­ter that elec­tion, Kenyan op­ti­mism topped the world on the hap­pi­ness in­dex. Eth­nic chief­tains who have di­vided the na­tional vote down the mid­dle have con­trolled sub­se­quent Kenyan pres­i­den­tial polls.

In 2002, Cord leader Raila Odinga tran­scended eth­nic lines and sup­ported Mwai Kibaki, an op­po­si­tion can­di­date from the pop­u­lous Cen­tral re­gion thus turn­ing the elec­tion into a protest vote against long serv­ing Pres­i­dent Daniel Moi and his pre­ferred pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Uhuru Keny­atta.

Kenyans fol­lowed Raila’s cue and also tran­scended eth­nic lines for the first time vot­ing multi-eth­ni­cally. The ef­fect was mag­i­cal and elec­tri­fy­ing as for the first time since In­de­pen­dence Kenyans united un­der one ban­ner, bury­ing Kanu in an avalanche of votes. Raila’s in­cred­i­ble act of self-sac­ri­fice was not re­cip­ro­cated as an MoU to ap­point him Prime Min­is­ter was quickly trashed and he and his sup­port­ers were later fired from gov­ern­ment. This led to the for­ma­tion of ODM in 2005.

The key to change in our lo­cal po­lit­i­cal scene still lies with Raila. Like or hate him, he re­mains the cen­tre of our pol­i­tics. But for as long as he holds on to his vote bloc and re­mains on the pres­i­den­tial bal­lot, the Ju­bilee Party will sit pretty and win.

Ju­bilee stal­warts have learnt over time and are now adept at how to ob­tain the votes that cause the tip­ping point to their ad­van­tage in an elec­toral con­test. Re­leas­ing his solid vote bloc to another can­di­date, how­ever, would be a game changer.

At the very least, it would sway both the un­de­cided and loyal, but dis­il­lu­sioned, vot­ers to the op­po­si­tion. The min­i­mum ef­fect of this would be to deny Ju­bilee the con­sti­tu­tional 50+1 re­quire­ment, forc­ing a runoff be­tween the two top can­di­dates.

Whether the Cord leader is will­ing to make one fi­nal sac­ri­fice re­mains to be seen. Ne­go­ti­a­tions on a na­tional Su­per Al­liance are on­go­ing.

ONE CAN STATE WITH A CER­TAIN LEVEL OF AC­CU­RACY THAT THE ONLY GEN­UINE ELEC­TION HELD IN KENYA WAS IN 2002

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.