2017 presidential poll the first when ICT became the bone of contention

Sunday August 13 2017

Nasa chief agent Musalia Mudavadi and other Nasa leaders address the media at Bomas of Kenya on August 11, 2017.  PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nasa chief agents James Orengo and Musalia Mudavadi address the media at Bomas of Kenya on August 11, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GITAU WARIGI
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Desperate times call for desperate measures. Nasa’s demand that IEBC officially declare Raila Odinga the 2017 presidential winner was a bizarre ending to a clearly doomed power quest.

The electoral body’s written reply was characteristically polite, yet its detailed demolition of Nasa’s premises left no doubt about what the ultimate outcome would be.

Nasa’s claim that it got Raila’s “winning” numbers from an IEBC server (courtesy of an “insider”) raised a number of untenable questions.

First, a self-declaration of victory is patently illegal under Kenyan law.

Two, the announcement was being made when IEBC together with presidential poll agents were still tabulating Forms 34A and 34B, and hence the final validated tally was unlikely to have been transmitted to IEBC’s database.

Earlier, Nasa had raised the red flag that the IEBC IT system had been hacked – the same system, ironically, it said it generated its own unverified numbers from.

ALLEGATIONS

In the ensuing hours, the document Nasa made public to back its allegations was dismissed by many IT experts as fake.

Meanwhile, the IEBC commissioner in charge of ICT confirmed there was no hacking of its systems.

Personally, I had no illusions about Raila gracefully giving a concession speech. As the minutes ticked by, there was a wrenching debate going on amongst his supporters on whether or not he should concede.

Some sincerely believed he had been robbed and should withhold any concession.

But there was a deeper, underlying sentiment even among the supporters who agreed he had lost fair and square.

A concession to them amounted to an intolerable, humiliating surrender to a Princeling whose family and Raila’s have been bitter political rivals since independence.

UHURU KENYATTA

Losing and then conceding to Uhuru Kenyatta, whose presidential legitimacy Raila has never really come to terms with, would be an unimaginable loss of face.

All told, Nasa ran a disastrous campaign. Jubilee sold its work on infrastructure, rural electrification, and SGR that seemed to have resonated with the public.

Nasa instead dwelt on negative denigration of everything while implausibly claiming Jubilee projects were started by the previous Grand Coalition, which is remembered for the gridlock caused by Raila’s endless feuds with Mwai Kibaki.

Whereas Jubilee had a superior data-driven ground game, Nasa’s was disjointed and relied on poorly co-ordinated agents at the polling centres.

There was also no question about who was better funded. Nasa kept up daily rants about rigging conspiracies – by IEBC, by the police, by the army, by the NIS – which sent the wrong message.

Jubilee has ended up winning big. It will now command large majorities in the county governorships and in both the National Assembly and the Senate.

As it consolidated its strongholds, it successfully raided key Nasa areas in Western, Kisii, Eastern, North-Eastern, Coast and Nairobi, where it won important gubernatorial or parliamentary seats.

DOMINANT PARTY

It also dislodged the Opposition as the dominant party in Northern Kenya. Nasa’s hopes in Kipsigis-land evaporated when Isaac Ruto’s support collapsed to the point where he disastrously lost his gubernatorial seat. Ukambani held fast in delivering its bulk presidential vote to Raila; however, Kalonzo Musyoka was left badly exposed when Wiper lost the crucial gubernatorial seats of Machakos and Kitui.

With Raila’s defeat now a foregone conclusion, I don’t think he will fade away easily.

Not yet. He enjoys the limelight very much. He will want to retain his vice-like grip of Luo-Nyanza just as his father Jaramogi did when he was in the political wilderness.

Still, his sway elsewhere will vastly diminish. Even his last presumed card — mass action — is no longer in his grasp. Aside from his core loyalists in Kisumu, Kibra and Mathare where scattered protests were reported, the rest of the country has no appetite for upheaval.

Finally, to the uncharismatic Chairman Wafula Chebukati, to CEO Ezra Chiloba and to the rest of the IEBC team, kudos for a well-run General Election. Congratulations, too, to President Kenyatta on his resounding re-election. Kenyans have spoken.

Warigi is a socio-political commentator [email protected]