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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Has Mwai Kibaki Ever Run A Successful Presidential Campaign?

That is the question that was posed to Kumekucha this afternoon and I had no option but to answer in the negative. The person posing this philosophical question was trying to answer the nagging question I have been repeatedly posing here. Namely who is the president’s strategist in chief and what are their political credentials? For sure going to Makerere University is one thing, and being streetwise enough to spin a campaign of this magnitude is quite another.

For those who think that the president run a successful campaign in 2002, let me remind you that after the serious near-fatal accident he had, campaign decisions shifted to others and it is people like the late Michael Kijana Wamalwa, Charity Ngilu, Raila Odinga and others who played a key role in his election.

The campaigns that the president oversaw personally was in 1992 and in 1997. In 1992 he was handed probably his most humiliating defeat by Kenneth Matiba who hardly held any campaign meetings to mask his very poor health from the public and yet Kibaki criss crossed the country aggressively campaigning. Kibaki ended up a poor third in those first multi-party presidential elections since independence in 1963.

In 1997, Kibaki came second to Moi but ironically was the main stumbling block to opposition unity which would have comfortably removed Moi from office. Instead he stubbornly stuck to his plan to go it alone, believing that he had enough votes to defeat Moi. Then American ambassador to Kenya did little to hide his deep irritation at Mwai Kibaki’s stance which guaranteed another failure for the opposition.

Those who know the president well say that he is stubborn and often makes the wrong campaign decisions and when advised otherwise still insists on sticking to what he believes to be correct. These people say that the road accident was in fact a blessing in disguise because chances are high that tensions would have risen within the summit was the president involved in the last weeks of campaigning in 2002.

These same informants insist that all the mistakes being made now had already been long advised against, but then it is the prerogative of the person being advised to decide whether to follow the advice or ignore it.

A case in point as the referendum of 2005. Many different groups advised the president to find a way to diffuse tensions and avoid the confrontation of the referendum, but he flatly refused and went ahead. Now if he loses this election it will be accurate to say that he sowed the seeds of his own defeat against the advice of his very qualified advisors.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes - Of course President Kibaki has run a successful campaign! Is it that we forget the successful PR campaign that compared him to Uhuru Kenyatta like wine to water? We forget easily?

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