Fluid dynamics in the spirited 2022 vote-hunt
The voter registration exercise started yesterday, with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) blowing the whistle to kick off the 2022 succession race.
As referee in a defining political battle, IEBC must secure electoral justice following serious concerns on its conduct of previous elections. Short of time and funds to deal with registration, procurement, voter electronic identification and results transmission, IEBC craves urgent support from government and Parliament.
Yet government is hobbled with a huge public debt, a yawning budget deficit and expensive loan repayments.
Graft, unemployment, higher tax, fuel, transport and electricity charges, inflation, rising cost of living, food and drought have shackled the economy.
These issues occupy the 2022 campaign platforms, alongside demographics and ethnicity, amid heightened political manoeuvres.
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga; a master political strategist, last week made a tactically productive “national ethnic unity” foray into vote-rich Mt Kenya region, ruffling the feathers of main challenger Deputy President (DP) William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
While not openly endorsing Raila, President Uhuru Kenyatta has equally not succeeded in hiding his preference.
Despite the clergy’s spiritual efforts, chances of a reconciliatory “handshake” with his deputy remain a mirage.
Instead, he appears keen on rebranding his Jubilee Party for a powerful coalition with Raila’s ODM and the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) of Musalia Mudavadi , Kalonzo Musyoka, Gideon Moi and Moses Wetangula.
How Ruto’s financial muscle and abrasive political apparatus, touring and hosting delegations at the DP’s official residence will fare in the vote-hunt against this formidable State-backed outfit, remains to be seen.
Not by bravado innuendos and casting derisive aspersions on tough opponents.
The “hustler” versus “dynasties” narrative could backfire spectacularly amid fluid political dynamics fuelling a populist trend for ethnic change in national leadership.
Ethnicity, demographics and regional politics are at play. The final voter register will yield over 40 per cent youthful voters aged between 18 and 35 (probably six million new ones).
This is a rich demographic dividend on ballot day at the centre of the current campaigns.
Will this majority in the vote-hunt be swayed by prevailing political, ethnic inclinations and economic factors? Yes… but which way?
Ruto’s brigade claim his “bottom-up” economic model will benefit youth and ordinary people-hustlers, boda boda, mama mboga.” Yet this demographic extraction is fickle and straddles all political, ethnic and socio-economic DNAs.
It is not a monopoly of one political party, sweet promises aside. Before the vote, “bottom-up” remains just a campaign promise. Recall the African adage…
“A bird in hand is worth two in the bush”? To “hustler” camp taunts, emboldened adversaries retort that they too belong to God and the people.
For government in power, with all structures and institutions intact including the Treasury and the Central Bank supported by county governments, a compliant Legislature, cohabiting with a once powerful opposition, “goodies” in the vote-hunt can be quickly obtained.
When the State you are effectively not part of swallows the bait and starts massaging its own “hustler” balm, the ground can get quite slippery, however politically savvy and financially endowed one may be.
Expect government to soon find resources for bigger Kazi Mtaani and Youth Empowerment Programmes credited with up-scaling living conditions in disadvantaged regions and poor urban neighbourhoods, engaging and earning income for community youth and women across all 47 counties.
Scenario sustained until election day, you can guess who will reap most at the ballot from the bulge in the lucrative 2022 vote-hunt. —[email protected]