It is quite clear that those mapping out strategy for ODM presidential aspirant Raila Odinga must include a very serious think tank who know exactly what they are doing.
Quite a number of very interesting moves made by Raila recently clearly show this. Before I go into them let me make a very important point here. Many people leaving comments here have been eager to claim that this blog has degenerated into an ODM campaign tool. Naturally these persons have the right to express their views no matter how false and misplaced they may be. And irrespective of the fact that the possibilities are high that such comments are made with a clear agenda against this popular site in mind. However I would like to point out that I have made every effort to keep this blog as balanced as possible. I have done this by including in my team of commentators who can make comments without my approval, people of divergent views. Proud Kikuyu Woman (is a self-confessed strong PNU supporter) while Vikii is a die hard ODM-Kenya man. Taabu is “horseless”, meaning that he is not backing any presidential candidate. Phil is of course ODM damu but is a skilled debater who often disagrees even with other ODM supporters on certain details and issues. Luke aka “admiring economic growth” also says he is “horseless.”
The other thing I have done is to favor PNU commentators who leave comments here and allow the kind of comments I would not allow from ODM supporters. I do this deliberately to create a balance of sorts because the PNU side is a little short on ideas and debating skills as has been evidenced by the quality of debate from their side both in this blog and nationally, right up to the very top. I am NOT being biased just do an audit in this blog of the abusive comments and language and you will clearly realize that virtually all of them are from one side.
Having said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this blog siding with a candidate of its’ choice. Newspapers and media houses in the most developed democracy in the world , The United States, usually back presidential candidates after carefully scrutinizing their policies. The only thing I want to emphasize is that if and when we make such a move we will announce it publicly. I take this opportunity to urge al others participating here to always state their agenda and position clearly when making comments.
Like the time recently when I declared this blog a campaigner for the proposed majimbo system of governance and even declared Kumekucha a Jimbo.
Now back to my main point for today.
The move by the Raila camp to introduce the majimbo debate early in the home stretch of this campaign was no accident. It is obviously the most controversial issue and with Raila and ODM’s clear lead in most polls, this was obviously the best time to do this.
An interesting aside to note here is the fact that the initiative in this campaign has been with ODM right from the beginning. Before they introduced this debate which has been a major face saver for PNU troops, the latter side was shouting itself hoarse with abusive language and personal attacks on Raila that were beginning to sound cumbersome even to their most ardent supporters. Now they have quickly grasped on the majimbo issue the way a sinking man would clutch on straws and suddenly they have something to say that is a little more palatable than what they were saying earlier.
The really sad thing here is that the PNU side boasts of some of the most astute and experienced political thinkers in the land some of whom are capable of halting the ODM groovy train very suddenly in its’ tracks with just a move or two. But alas, their voices are not being heard and in most cases they have been pushed to the periphery mostly by a president who is very sure of himself and feels that he does not need their input. Instead President Kibaki feels that he can run the whole show mostly on his own and with a little help from his golf buddies, Makerere alumni and even relatives like his own daughter (a very smart lady no doubt, but politics is a very different ball game where fools sometimes thrive). The fact that the president is relying more and more on close relations and friends to run his campaign has clearly been signaled by the recent development where First Lady L:ucy Kibaki is now running her own campaign schedule. She is currently in Mombasa drumming up support from the Bui bui crowd. In my view Lucy is a lose canon who can easily lose the president tens of thousands of votes with a single remark. Like the one she made recently that she wished she had money to hire helicopters to fly countrywide to show Kenyans the good work that her husband has done. Many Kenyans on the ground that I interviewed over this remark got upset and understandably so. You need to take a brief tour into rural Kenya in almost every corner of the republic to see for yourself how standards of living have deteriorated and how desperation has risen rapidly in the last 5 years, despite the wonderful so-called economic growth the country has experienced under Kibaki. The desperation is really sad to behold, really sad and the reason why anybody opposing the current regime was bound to have gotten such widespread grassroots support as ODM and their previously “unelectable” candidate now enjoy. Many of these folks with no understanding of economics tell me that they now want a president to promise them negative economic growth because they have noticed that they have more money in their pockets whenever the growth is negative but are in danger of starving to death when growth is positively high.
Anyway, let me leave it to history to be the final judge over this issue and to answer the question as to whether the president really needed the advice he is now shunning or not.
My apologies for that lengthy digress but it was necessary.
One of the clear moves the Raila campaign team is now making is to aggressively venture into the heart of the PNU support base. This is mainly central Kenya and the Mount Kenya region as a whole. While the party has growing pockets of support in these regions, these are solid PNU strongholds.
The question that is now emerging is how wise this strategy is. Not in terms of its’ effectiveness in securing more votes and weakening the presidents support base, but in its’ viability in ensuring a peaceful general election which is more important to Kenyans than which side ends up wining. After all we are basically voting for the same people who have been around for decades and are only now promising us heaven on earth under great pressure mostly from voters who are very disappointed with the performance of the 9th parliament.
The red flags over poll violence resulting from this latest Raila strategy have to go up because already it has been reported that one life has been lost in the ODM campaign violence in Meru yesterday. All signs point to this just being the beginning of a nightmare of an election.
In a quarter page advertisement placed by a lobby group, the Central Kenya Initiative (CKI) in the Sunday Nation, of 28th October 2007 on page 6, the organization calls for a national healing and reconciliation prayer day today (29th October). In the ad signed by convenor, Tony Gacoka, it is insinuated that young Kenyans from central province are not being allowed to fully participate in campaigning for ODM and Raila Odinga freely and an appeal is made to the government to allow this to happen.
One wonders what will happen when the campaigns being spearheaded by this group really get going in the region.
It may just be a wiser decision for Raila and ODM to campaign in this region through the media and save Kenyan lives.