Karua, Gachagua equation tilts political narrative
The two contesting political options in the run up to the 2022 General Election present a very interesting campaign period and the possibility of a new era in the political space.
On the one hand is the Azimio la Umoja coalition that is building on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy through Raila Odinga/Martha Karua. This option brings to presidency a fairly significant reform credentials to it.
The other option is the Deputy President (DP)- William Ruto’/Rigathi Gachagua’s Kenya Kwanza coalition that is redefining politics through the bottom-up economic model, and the hustler ideal.
Opinions are divided and from the critical standpoint, commentators have looked at President Kenyatta’s quest to manage his succession, as a break from tradition and a well calculated effort to not only continue with his legacy but to redefine politics.
Critical, is the break from the Kikuyu – Kalenjin stranglehold of the presidency. Since independence, we have had a Kikuyu president followed by a Kalenjin President and it does appear that the Kenya Kwanza ticket will continue with that while Azimio, just as the name suggest will usher in a new dawn.
Opinion holds that the Ruto team offers an anti-establishment candidature and that his presidency, is likely to break with the long tradition of elite leadership and socio-political and economic hegemony in Kenya. His ardent supporters evaluate him as a candidate who will empower the folks at the bottom of the pyramid. This has endeared him to the citizenry, especially in Mt Kenya region that has produced three presidents in Kenya’s history.
To a large extent, it is safe to argue that his popularity in Mt Kenya is a function of both the two electoral campaign periods that saw him enjoy access to the mountain locals; courtesy of President Kenyatta and his position as the DP. He has made good use of the access and from a political point of view he has built clout out of it.
You could also argue that lately, Kenya Kwanza lieutenants have sort of managed to convince the locals in the region to believe that Kikuyu leadership has failed the masses, and this is where he has also exposed himself.
But the choices of the running mates in the two coalitions tilt the narrative and momentum, completely debunking the hustler ideal. Questions are emerging on how the hustler team could settle on a billionaire for a running mate and dish out lofty positions for the top leadership. If these narrative gains traction, then, the Kenya Kwanza leadership, especially UDA as a party will have to explain why they shot down the Building bridges Initiative (BBI), yet it was only offering three additional positions in the structure of governance and with less ambiguity.
Mt Kenya for instance, lost a lot with the death of BBI – equity in representation that was to go hand in hand with economic resources and the question of Sh54 billion. Granted, when these questions dominate the public domain, the answers are not only going to frame Kenya Kwanza as anti-Mt Kenya, but also elevate the voters in the region to interrogate the alternatives in Azimio.
And in Azimio, the unveiling of Karua digs deep to the core of what if addressed will redefine the way the political class attends to the plight of the masses.
All of us might not be gender experts, but those of us who are going to vote have all lived in this country long enough, and probably followed politics diligently to understand that if politics is about the allocation and distribution of resources, then the choice of Karua as Azimio running mate will certainly change a lot for the better.
With a woman at the top leadership, a critical power will be present to address real issues that bedevil a typical Kenyan woman. Karua is expected to be at the very top, and with that undefeatable spirit, she make every critical step to address the plight of all Kenyans.
—The writer is a PhD candidate in Political Communication and Media Studies—[email protected]