For eight weeks, voters will be the darlings of politicians as the country goes into campaigns culminating in the August 8 General Election.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Sunday said it was ready for the polls as it received another consignment of 10,080 Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (Kiems) kits, taking the total to 35,000.
IEBC also ordered aspirants aggrieved with party primaries to file their cases with the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal by the end of Monday.
A sample of ballot papers to be used in the elections can easily be created by the Candidate Registration Management Systems.
The IEBC management team was holed up in Mombasa on Sunday, working on last-minute logistics to ensure it delivers credible elections.
“We expect the entire 45,000 Kiems consignment from Safran Identity and Security to be delivered ahead of schedule,” said IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba.
This is unlike in 2013 when the agency received the gadgets on the eve of the election day.
“We have time to test the machines and part of it is what we are doing during the voter verification,” said IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo.
With the closure of the submission of nomination papers on Friday and the launch of campaigns by Jubilee and the National Super Alliance, the country was plunged into heightened vote-hunting.
An estimated 16,000 candidates, among them eight contesting the presidency, are now on a vote-hunting mission.
On Sunday, President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto were in Nakuru and Naivasha while Nasa presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga and his team were in Siaya and Nandi counties.
FIGHTING FOR SECOND TERM
Prof Karuti Kanyinga describes the campaign as a high-stakes game in which an incumbent president is fighting for a second term against a revived opposition.
“No president in Africa wants to lose after one term and here is an opposition candidate who is fighting for his last chance,” the University of Nairobi don said by phone.
Prof Larry Gumbe, a Nasa member, said the tough economic times and growing public anger would determine the poll results.
‘The economy has taken a nosedive. Money supply has dwindled and Jubilee has not helped it with its arrogance. The stakes are extremely high,” he said.
Jubilee and Nasa have put in place teams, backed by resources to wage campaigns for an election which would be won by the team that crafts the best message.
They are supported by businesses, which have committed millions of shillings to the campaigns.
Experts in elections, image branding, logistics, social media, mob security, spies, images of beautiful women to spice campaigns form the rest of the teams.
The teams will craft and peddle falsehoods, propaganda and even hate, to win votes.
On Sunday, there were dozens of caricatures on social media, depictions of the two leading presidential candidates and lies about what they stand for. The worst is yet to come.
President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto say they deserve a second term because “we have delivered on our 2013 pledges”.
For Mr Odinga and the opposition alliance, a vote for them — they say — means entrusting the country to a clean team, which would fight corruption, reduce the cost of living and develop every part of the country.
They are going to scour slums in urban centres, villages in the country side, valleys and hills using helicopters and four-wheel vehicles seeking votes of 18 million Kenyans who have enlisted to vote.
Mr Limo said although the official campaigns started after IEBC cleared presidential candidates, nomination disputes and presentation of papers to the commission by other candidates dominated last week’s activities.
He urged Kenyans to use the remaining four days to verify their status as voters to allow the commission to gear up for the elections.
“Once the Presidential nominees submitted their papers, the official campaigns started but you know the issues that took charge of last week. For us, we are on course,” he said.
This week, they will advertise for clerks for 40,200 polling stations as training for other officials involved in elections continues.
The commission, further, wants to clear all pending disputes by the end of this week. It gave the aspirants until Monday evening to file any unresolved complaints arising from political party nominations.
“The commission wishes to notify the public that those filing complains in relation to nominations must do so not later than June 5, 2017 by 5 pm (today),” it said in a statement signed by chairman Wafula Chebukati