2022 hopefuls scramble to win groups

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 00:00 |
ODM leader Raila Odinga (third from left) when he met Civil Society leaders in Nairobi last month. Photo/File

Leading politicians are in race to win the minds and souls of the youth, religious groups, small entrepreneurs and other groups as the campaigns for next year’s elections gather pace.  

The political figures on both sides of the aisle are also out to win civil society groups over to their side.

Owners of Small and medium-sized enterprises are emerging to be some of the most sought-after groups at a time when business are not doing well partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Kanu’s  Gideon Moi are scrambling for the attention of the groups.

And social media platforms are increasingly the forum choice for the candidates and parties to sell their agenda to the vote segments and the entire country.

On Saturday, Ruto held a meeting with entrepreneurs from Eastleigh, Nairobi at his Karen residence.

“We must decriminalise micro and small businesses that have the power of creating jobs for millions of ordinary Kenyans,” Ruto posted on his social media pages.

On July 25, during the launch of an empowerment programme for more than 300 small business owners in Rurii, Nyandarua County, the DP said small enterprises are formidable creators of jobs and wealth.

Student leaders

“In ensuring that we place them in a position to flourish, hence boost our growth, we have broadened and escalated our bottom-up, middle-out focus on the economy to polish their business expertise and competence,” he said.

On July 23, DP met with the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya led by the Nairobi branch chairman Sheikh Hassan A-lamin at his Karen residence.

Earlier, the DP hosted more than 300 pastoral leaders drawn from churches in all the 17 constituencies in Nairobi.

On Saturday, Senator Moi, who is seeking the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) presidential ticket, met student leaders from Uasin Gishu County at his Kabarak home.

The students pledged to support Moi’s candidature.

“I am impressed by the creativity of our students in institutions of higher learning. Their aspirations exemplify the demographic dividend we stand to reap when they transition to the job market,” Moi tweeted in reference to the meeting.

He also recently hosted a group of clerics, during which he asked the church to shun leaders who perpetuate the politics of incitement and intimidation against those who do not share their views.

Like his competitors, Raila has been meeting various groups to talk about his agenda. Last Wednesday, he spent his afternoon with a youth group from Murang’a calling itself Baba Die Hards.

“We shared insights on our Nation’s journey thus far. I outlined to the youthful group where we want to see Kenya in the coming years,” Raila tweeted.

On July 30, Raila met with Members of The Importers and Small Traders Association of Kenya who he described as “arguably amongst the hardest working citizens of our nation”.

“As a one time resident of Bahati and Jerusalem estates, it was great meeting them and hearing their thoughts and suggestions on how best we improve the business environment,” Raila wrote on twitter. 

“There is a place for them in our plan of improving this crucial sector of our economy,” he added.

While popularising his presidential candidature in Mombasa County on the same day, Kalonzo visited the Akamba Handcraft members in Changamwe.

“Businesses across the country need government and multi-stakeholders support focused towards making Kenya a regional entrepreneurial hub,” Kalonzo said.

Economic growth

Mudavadi, who is planning to run for the presidency for the second time, has also been campaigning to endear himself to small traders under the banner #UchumiBoraPesaMfukoni.

While criticising the Jubilee administration’s tax regime, Mudavadi argues that the country does not need new taxes but new taxpayers.

If elected, Mudavadi pledged to lower taxes which in the long run will put more money in people’s pockets.

“Lower income tax rates increase the spending power of consumers and can increase aggregate demand, leading to higher economic growth,” he said.

During his tour of Nyandarua, he also reached out the church. On July 24, he joined the faithful of Ol Joro Orok SDA church for the closing of the church’s camp meeting.

“Leaders are God-chosen, as such the Church has a big role to play in getting the right leaders,” he tweeted.

The candidates are courting civil society groups. Raila recently met anti-corruption crusader John Githongo, human rights activists Maina Kiai, lawyer George Kegoro, Prof Makau Mutua and Article 19 Executive Director Mugambi Kiai.

The board members of the Kenya Human Rights Commission – a body that has been at the forefront of championing better governance – were joined by KHRC director Davis Malombe.

Raila described the meeting as “a great get-together with friends from back in the day”.

He was meeting the team for the second time in a week.

Kegoro said the meeting was “a useful discussion with Raila Odinga on Kenya’s public affairs”, largely touching on the BBI process.

The meeting came hot on the heels of the ODM leader’s day out with musicians at the home of Royal Media Services owner SK Macharia.

Although fashioned as a celebration of increased earnings for artists from Skiza Tune, politics took the centre stage at the meeting.

Several Mt Kenya leaders in attendance endorsed Raila for the presidency.

Raila said artists stand to gain if a law granting them a larger share of the revenue is enacted.

When he joined the Idd Ul Adha celebrations hosted by Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho last month, Raila said the Muslim community had played a key role in the liberation of the nation including during the clamour for multi-party democracy and devolution.

ODM has also hosted a number of musicians at Chungwa House.

More on News