Things politicians do to attract vote ahead of election

By , People Daily Digital
Tuesday, October 12th, 2021 00:00 | 5 mins read
DP William Ruto braves the rain as he acknowledges greetings from the locals at Bomachoge Borabu constituency, during his tour of Kisii County yesterday. Photo/DPPS

Dancing in the rain is a phrase used when one is smiling at adversity; taking control of the sails and pushing ahead undeterred. 

Well, Deputy President William Ruto had this in mind when he literally chose to smile and wave at a crowd while the heavens opened and rains poured. He was soaked. All in the name of soliciting votes. And he is not alone. 

On Monday last week, ODM leader Raila Odinga was seen changing shoes on the rooftop of his car.

He later went on Twitter thanking Charles Gachara who gifted him the pair during a rally at Chaka in Nyeri county.

The same week, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was also photographed serving tea to customers at Freshna Café, a tin shack eatery in her county.

She then sat on a plastic chair and wooden table to enjoy a cup of black tea and a loaf of bread after which she proceeded for a selfie moment with the customers.

“I enjoyed having a cup of tea with Mwea residents at Freshna Cafe and listening to their stories of how our #KirinyagaRising vision has transformed their lives.

Ground iko Imara!” read the caption on her Facebook page on September 27, 2021.

The DP, a billionaire with a battery of aides who would have ordinarily jumped onto his car rooftop to cover him with an umbrella, appeared unmoved as he continued to be drenched in the rains.

Likewise, Raila in any normal situation, would not have removed his shoes to put on what had been gifted to him.

On the other hand, Waiguru is the last person to patronise a tin shack.

Endearing selves to voters 

But as American author Anand Giridharadas explains in his non-fiction book dubbed Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, billionaires and elite politicians hoodwink the public that they are commoners and that whatever is good for the powerful, is also best for the helpless.

This is the season that voters are about to be treated to bizarre acts from the rich and elite aspirants seeking to play humility card to project themselves as minders of the downtrodden.

From abandoning their cars for boda boda and matatu rides, the wealthy politicians will go to any length to project themselves as individuals with the ability to solve all problems facing the society.

This is the season that high-flying politicians will for once leave five-star hotels for githeri and mandazis makeshift eateries, get haircuts in local barbershops or play pool in dingy joints and even order roasted maize and muturaand soup by the roadsides.

Many will be seen participating in community work and taking selfies after giving donations as they seek to endear themselves to the masses with promises that their win is a win for the commoners.

Others are donning religious regalia belonging to denominations they do not subscribe to such as the Akorino and Legio Maria andKanzu’s while joining Muslims like it has happened to DP Ruto and Raila, to create  a sense of belonging.

Humility card

Many politicians have even taken time to undergo bizarre traditional rituals to be coronated as community kingpins or spokesperson by elders. 

Amani National Congress boss Musalia Mudavadi has also been photographed having his shoes cleaned by roadside shoe shiners, while his Wiper counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka was recently captured milking  his  cow.

Kalonzo recently made a photo-shoot donning an apron and gumboots interacting with his village folks while Senator Gideon Moi took time to bargain for a 300 millilitre can of honey from women in his Baringo county.

Political pundit Peter Ng’ethe opines that politics appeal to the emotions, which politicians, who are keen to profiteer from the status quo, understand perfectly.

Ngethe says politicians are always ready to maximize on any strategy that projects humbleness  to influence voters because  Kenyan voters like associating with leaders who they perceive to be humble. According to Ngethe, perception is greater than reality.

“Politicians are always scheming and they know how gullible the electorate is. They stay away from the electorate for four years but will appear in the final year brandishing a humility card ready to woo voters,” Ng’ethe, a political science graduate from Kenyatta University observes.

“This has been the cycle since the advent of multiparty politics in Kenya. However shallow this strategy looks, it works,” he adds.

But former Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando Wa Kabando defends the political class, saying they are free to use any strategy aimed at marketing themselves and wooing voters, as long as it is within the legal limits.

Kabando said political campaign strategies and techniques require practical skills and employment to reach the voter.

“All legal ways are, therefore, acceptable. Our concern should be on illegal activities like bribery, violence and abuse of office, intimidation and rigging,” Kabando said.

Presently, the social media is awash with photographs of presidential, gubernatorial, Members of Parliament and Ward Reps aspirants dishing out laughable donations such as sufurias, building makeshift shades which do not match the positions they are jostling for.

Others have been photographed engaging in sports competitions and attending birthday parties in rural areas, dining with poor families in their homes to woo voters.

For instance, outspoken Kimilili MP   Didmus Barasa, if he is not being photographed hammering a nail at the rooftop of a new building, he is seen applying plaster at  a construction site or lighting fire in a three-stoned jiko before helping an impoverished family to brew tea.

 Barasa has also been seen braving toxic smoke during a night vigil in the company of a bereaved family.   

His South Mugirango counterpart Silvanas Osoro recently participated in constructing a mud-walled house by mixing the mud while wearing a pair of short before taking a rest while enjoying a piece of sugarcane.

Recently de-nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura has been frequenting makeshift eateries in Ruiru town where he enjoys a meal of chapatis and beans or markets where he eats fruits from the roadside kiosks or joins youth at construction sites as part of his campaigns.

Kiambu Governor James Nyoro was recently captured ordering nyama choma in an open air eatery zone at Kamaki’s Ruiru in what has been viewed as part of his 2022 campaign.

His Nyeri counterpart Mutahi Kahiga has embarked on a social media overdrive, adopting queer strategies such as creating entertainment videos on Tiktok which is popular with the youth.

Kirinyaga Woman Rep Wangui Ngirichi who hopes to unseat Governor Waiguru did not only join young people in her county in digging a trench on the roadside, she also went to a jua kali workshop at a local trading centre where she was photographed trying to undertake some welding work, a job she not only proved to be conversant with but would ordinarily not engage in.

Fake promises 

Dr Samuel Nyandemo, a senior lecturer at the School of Economics at the University of Nairobi says that by engaging in activities which project themselves as humble people and capitalising on the needs of those in the bottom of the pyramid, the rich and elite politicians are just but applying strategies to win votes.

According to Nyandemo, these politicians are not genuine and are only behaving like ordinary people just to hoodwink the masses.

“It is only that they have realised that the wind is changing and so what they are doing is to re-invent the wheel like it has been happening during every election where politicians come up with all manner of strategies to blindfold voters,” Dr Nyandemo told People Daily.

He added: “This is a period when all these politicians will be spending money to woo  voters as they give all manner of promises especially to the downtrodden.  

But once they are elected, they will immediately return to their high-end places to pursue their selfish interests only to return when the 2027 election nears.”

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