Kenyans want realistic election campaign agenda

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021 00:12 | By
Elections underway. Photo/File

The frenetic pace of 2022 presidential election candidates’ campaigns, show the need for carefully defined strategies to capture the majority votes required to win.

Other than traditional ethnic-based partisan strongholds, contenders are balancing campaigns on the prevailing fluid Kenyan political and socio-economic dynamics.

Bound by a people-centred Constitution that has raised the bar on good governance, integrity, human rights, equity and inclusivity, aspirants face an electorate demanding a departure from the fallacy and negativity of the past.

Long after independence, millions of Kenyans are still chained to the yoke of poverty, ignorance and disease, exacerbated by the Covid-9 pandemic, that is spiking again and remains a major public health, political and economic issue in the election year.

Critical pre-election issues crystalise around these long-standing woes and conjoined twin subjects of national unity and economic stability at State, society and family level.

Citizens want realistic election campaign messaging. The two inseparable issues are the subject of a raging debate pitting main contenders while shaping campaign platforms, in as much as they differ in their style of approaching them.

ODM leader Raila Odinga has built his campaign on national cohesion and devolution, to deliver on economic inclusion under the Azimio la Umoja banner.

Deputy President (DP) William Ruto is rooting for a “bottoms-up” economic model through his UDA party.

A wide ideological gulf reinforces belief that whoever captures the nation’s mood and manoeuvres the delicate ethnic, regional, demographic terrain characterised by overriding poverty and unemployment, will carry the day. 

Word on the ground is that the average Kenyan voter, buoyed by a fortified Constitution, has grown wiser and cannot be easily swayed by guile and promises of smooth-talking politicians. Millions of so-called “hustlers” know just how much of the bait they can swallow. 

Yet the “hustler” mantra also finds solace in the swollen population of frustrated jobless youth and poverty-stricken hungry citizens. Whether this frustration will translate into votes in seven months’ time is for another day.

However, the stark differences in the style of rival campaign strategies and tempo of rhetoric at rallies, betrays a sense of desperation and anxiety, despite the levels of confidence exuded. 

The DP and allies continue to unleash a torrent of criticism at Raila, blaming him for the Jubilee Party fallout and perceived decline in development. 

This attitude and allegations which have transformed the DP and company, into an opposition within the government he is servingm, is being closely monitored on a “truth meter”.

For Raila, a reformist, long-serving opposition democracy crusader, the transformation since the Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta has confounded friends and foes alike. 

Even his closest allies, known for acerbic vitriol against his opponents, have adopted an uncharacteristic low-keyed demeanour, probably due to closely-guarded reasons.

Raila’s makeover has earned State goodwill that appears to be slowly slipping away from the DP.

His campaign agenda can therefore enjoy the advantage of Uhuru’s legacy, particularly the Big Four Agenda.

His advisers should commit the most easily achievable pillar of this agenda – food and nutrition security – in his campaign platform.

The battle for the next election will be won in the stomach and on the farm, bearing in mind that agriculture is Kenya’s economic mainstay.

A satisfied citizenry and productive farmers, have no appetite for political and socio-economic instability.

Evidence shows that countries that have increased productivity, curbed poverty and created employment, benefited from economic growth sustained by agricultural production. [email protected]

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