Kenya: Tribalism or Regionalism – Factors That Will Determine Kenya Polls Winner. Kenyans go to the polls today to choose their next crop of leaders for various elective posts.
The presidential election is billed as one of the most tightly contested in the country’s electoral history, with the most recent opinion polls showing a 1-3 percentage gap between the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Party and Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance.
While the cost of living, unemployment, corruption, security and free public services are key issues having an impact on the lives of Kenyans, the ultimate winner will be determined by a motley of factors.
The EastAfrican’s Peter Munaita lists the top ten.
1. TRIBALISM OR REGIONALISM
Politicians talk of shunning it, at least until an election comes around.
Alliances are primarily informed by it and top leaders in them, principals in Kenya parlance, picked depending on their potential to rally their communities behind the coalition. That includes the choice of running mates too for presidential and gubernatorial positions.
So it is that the Jubilee Party is viewed as a dominion championing the cause of two communities, Kikuyus and Kalenjins, while the National Super Alliance (Nasa) is taken to be rooting for the interests of the Luo, the Kamba and the Luhya.
Predictably, the protagonists deny this and claim to be motivated by a need to unite Kenyans. Practice, however, discounts their word, with candidates in metropolitan areas like Nairobi appealing to tribal sentiment and those in rural areas exploiting the clan factor.
The recognition of Asians as Kenya’s 44th tribe recently — forget their diverse cultural and religious background — falls under this matrix.
So tribal is Kenya that opinion polls show a polarisation on key issues by region and by dominant community. On matters like worsening cost of living which affects all voters, Central, North Eastern and Rift Valley — home to the president, leader of government business and deputy president respectively, led in approval of the government.
In contrast, Nyanza, Eastern, Western and Coast — homes to Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga, running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, two principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula and Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho — led in disapproval of the government.
Overall, 85 per cent of Jubilee supporters in a poll by Ipsos approved of the president while 74 per cent of Nasa supporters disapproved of him.
In a poll by Infotrak, five per cent of those who said the country was going in the right direction boldly said it was because “my candidate is in power” while nine per cent blamed tribalism for the country going in the wrong direction.
Asked about tribalism trampling on issues in Kenyan elections during the presidential debate, Mr Odinga referred to the homeboy mentality in the US to explain why Nyanza voters were more likely to support him than Mr Kenyatta, with the vice versa obtaining in Central.
Outside the home areas, however, Mr Odinga said that the support of each would be more inclined to issues. While the homeboy factor holds going by opinion polls, it is unlikely that issues explain why Jubilee is also the most popular party in Eastern, Rift Valley and North Eastern, while Nasa holds more sway in Nairobi, Coast and Western.
Voters identifying with a candidate’s issues outside the home region would be expected to be more evenly spread. Of note was a finding in the Ipsos poll that less than a half of respondents (46 per cent) believed any political party “genuinely represents the interests of ordinary Kenyans.”
A winning presidential candidate is by law required to garner more than a half of the votes cast (50+1) and win at least a quarter of the votes in 24 of the 47 counties.
All opinion polls show the leading candidates will meet the second condition but the regions present quite a tight race with regard to the first.
2. MONEY AND SOURCES
Running an election is an expensive affair, with regard to logistics and mobilisation of supporters. Upwards of Ksh5 billion ($500 million) has been floated the amount required to run an affective presidential campaign.
It is reported that in 2013, in the choice of Musalia Mudavadi as a fallback candidate should Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto be barred from running because of crimes against humanity charges that were facing them, money became a dealbreaker.
“We cannot support you and give you money for the campaigns” is said to have been one of the home truths uttered to Mr Mudavadi’s face.
Until recently, elections were won by the candidate who would lobby rivals and their supporters to step down in their favour; something that is still believed to be key in determining which alliance top leaders choose.
The mudslinging between Jubilee and Nasa on the role of businessman Jimi Wanjigi in the current and previous campaigns is understood to revolve around a deal gone sour for the tapping of one principal to shift alliances.
Nowhere is the influence of money more evident than in political rallies where followers are bedecked in party attire, helicopters fly from one venue to another and party mobilisers are compensated for a day’s work. Crowds are also hired to participate in rallies and other campaign activities.
With the campaign financing regulations in limbo and funding of political parties by the State inadequate, resources are mobilised through fundraisers where a dinner plate goes for more than $10,000.
Source from allAfrica