Compared with 2002, this election presents a good turning point for Kenya. The stakes are too high to miss it. Even foreign envoys are seeing the probability that Raila Odinga could be elected president in Tuesday’s elections. This is mainly because Jubilee and NASA control 18 and 19 counties respectively, which can be considered their strongholds. Ten other counties are considered “Fifty-Fifty”. This election is too close to call. As this is going on, the business community is preparing to deal with either a Kenyatta or an Odinga presidency. My colleague tweeted the other day: “Old foes will become new friends. The winner will work with WHOEVER is willing to work with him. No matter who wins”. Even Government agencies could be preparing their strategic plans with considerations of the manifestos of the two main sides. For the sake of our country, which coalition ought to win the elections? I will plainly say NASA, and for four main reasons.
Kenyan politics also needs disruption. There is a great sense of entitlement and victimhood on either side of the political divide.
President Kenyatta and his supporters feel entitled to the presidency and believe it is the only way they can gain access to the national cake while Raila’ Odinga’s supporters are still waiting for their turn and blame Kenyatta’s side for blocking their way. In reality, that is not entirely true. The change will mean that Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters will realise that their life can be normal without one of their own at State House while Mr Odinga’s supporters will wake up to the reality that life won’t change much because he is resident at State House. They will still wake up and work to earn their daily bread, pay bills, pay taxes and pay rent. The United States which we all look up to has given equal share to all sorts of experimentation with the country’s leadership. Replacing Democrats with Republicans and vice versa when they are tired of any of the establishments is the stuff Africa and Kenya needs to copy; giving a chance to the first African-American president; replacing politicians with business moguls like the case of President Donald Trump have a way of disrupting the norm and presenting us with possibilities. Kenya too, needs to take that chance and NASA’s win will provide this opportunity. Secondly; A NASA win would project Kenya as maturing democratically. Kenya must have made a step in its democratic ideals and progress when a candidate proposed by the incumbent lost as happened in 2002. Then, President Moi, with much ado, handed over power to Opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki. However, an incumbent losing to an Opposition and being sworn in is something Kenya is yet to experience. This will send a signal that being an incumbent doesn’t give anyone a competitive advantage and that a second term for an incumbent is not bestowed, but must be earned.
Thirdly; Kenyatta’s age. The assumption is that Kenyatta’s age allows for a smooth transition therefore keeping Kenya together with the hope of him going at it again in 2022. Watching the swearing in ceremony of President Donald Trump after the alleged rigging of the US elections in November, the wisdom of the fathers of the American Constitution was the provision of a peaceful transition no matter what became apparent. That President Barack Obama co-operated with Trump in preparing him for the transition and eventually handed over power to him after the bitter exchanges during the campaign makes everyone admire the US. Lastly; National stability in 2022 and the UhuRuto factor. In 2013, the UhuRuto union was a marriage of convenience triggered by cases against humanity at the ICC. This means that out of an agreement made between Uhuru and Ruto, but not with Uhuru’s supporters, Uhuru’s supporters must support Ruto for the 2022 presidential bid. With the fact that there are no permanent friends in politics but interests, Uhuru may not be Ruto’s friend in 2022 and even if he would, he only has one vote so he cannot force his supporters to vote for Ruto. In the unfortunate event that this 2022 project doesn’t succeed, old wounds may be opened and God forbid, this could be detrimental to the country. In that regard, for the sake of national unity, let NASA win to change the ominous 2022 arithmetic. These are hypothetical scenarios. So nevertheless, make your choices with your conscience and may the best coalition win.
Written by Dr. Fredrick Ogola, Senior Lecturer at Strathmore Business School.