You can tell that the Kenyan media is under a lot of pressure from politicians who mostly know nothing about media coverage.
Journalists do not create news, they report it and if at the moment there is a lot happening in ODM and not much happening in PNU what are they expected to do? Answer: Come up with ridiculous front page headlines like “PNU campaign Picks Up Momentum.”
Now here is some news that may not get the prominence it deserves in the newspapers tomorrow morning. Kalembe Ndile, MP for Kibwezi and a tourism assistant minister held a press conference earlier today.
Kalembe Ndile is not a polished man. The chap cannot even speak good English and prefers Kiswahili. But one thing about him, he is sincere. Probably too sincere to be a politician in Kenya. Remember the uproar he caused when he said that Assistant ministers were idle in Kenya and consuming the tax payer’s funds for doing nothing?
In Kalembe Ndile’s press conference he spoke a lot about the powerful ministers surrounding president Kibaki who are going to cause his downfall. He especially singled out 3, whom he did not mention by name. But he said; Hata nyinyi watu wa magazeti munawajua na munawataja kila wakati. (Even you newspaper guys know them and you mention them in your stories all the time).
Ndile says that these powerful (and polished characters) block access to the president and he is thus unable to know exactly what is going on on the ground and what the common man is really thinking. The result is that the current CEO of the Kenyan nation has to find out the truth from very embarrassing situations. Like attending a political rally in Western Kenya where most of the people in the crowd are carrying ODM placards.
One thing about president Moi (despite his many faults) is that he loved to get quality time with many unpolished characters (e.g Mulu Mutisya, Barengtuny—I can’t even spell his name—and others) and even frequently interacted with common folk. The result was that he was always very much aware of the pulse of the nation. The current president likes to deal with either Makerere alumni or at the very least Ivy league university material. And if you are not PhD material, then he feels he’s really just wasting his time. Sadly it is now very clear to anybody who has eyes that President Kibaki and his team are badly out of touch with the aspirations of most Kenyans on the ground.
I spent a fascinating afternoon today with a diehard PNU supporter. He usually gives me long lectures on how qualified and smart President Kibaki is and how he emerges victorious from every crisis that ever comes his way. His examples sometimes go back to the 50s. He always wins, the guy has been telling me, even if he initially looks lost and defeated. But today the guy’s tune had changed. NO he is never going to vote for ODM but he told me that he now sees a Kibaki defeat unless some miracle happens. Coming from him, I was more than a little shocked.
He gave me an example of the recent Nakuru meeting where a Shirikisho party official Chirau Makwere told the crowd that his party supports Majimbo and at the same time supports President Kibaki’s re-election bid. Now it is widely known that this Majimbo thing is the agenda that ODM is pushing for and President Kibaki and his team are strongly against it (and for what it’s worth even Kumekucha is against it). So imagine the confusion being caused.
It struck me how right my Kikuyu friend was. In fact with that single example he brought out one of the things that is very wrong about the whole PNU campaign strategy and this is something that is going to cause a lot of confusion when the campaigns proper start. Seasoned political campaigners will tell you that confusion is something you want to cause in the opponent’s camp and it should NEVER be found anywhere near your own.
I found it quite fascinating and ominous as well that both ODM die hard supporters and PNU die hard supporters can agree on what is wrong with the multi-billion shilling Kibaki campaign machine.
Very ill-omened indeed, my dear brothers and sisters and you can take that as a prediction on the forthcoming mother of all general elections in Kenya.