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Jubilee Party and Cord in hunt for votes

Friday January 13 2017
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Front, from left: National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Jubilee Party head of secretariat Raphael Tuju at the launch of the membership card for the political group at Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi on January 13, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PETER ODUOR

The two main political formations have upped their hunt for votes as the August elections approach.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday launched Jubilee membership smart cards in an attempt to eradicate controversies and chaos as the party heads to the primaries.

The event at Safaricom Stadium took place two days after opposition parties unveiled the National Super Alliance or Nasa at Bomas of Kenya.

Jubilee and Nasa declared they would win the August 8 elections.

During the Wednesday’s unity rally, Cord co-principal Raila Odinga said opposition leaders had suspended demonstrations against changes to the electoral law but would instead direct their energy to voter mobilisation.

“You must go out to every town, village, home, church, school and bus stop daily and not rest until everybody you meet is a registered voter. Jubilee should go home. It has to be done,” he said.

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Those instructions to supporters signalled the start of a hunt for six million new votes in opposition strongholds. The registration begins on Monday.

Jubilee said it intended to marshal 4.9 million new voters in a drive to be spearheaded by the President and his deputy.

As of December 16, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said 15.85 million people were listed as voters. The roll is being scrutinised by auditing firm KPMG before being validated by Parliament on February 17.

RALLY VOTERS

In 2013, there were 14.35 million voters.

Speaking to elected leaders and aspirants from Rift Valley at his Karen home on Tuesday, Deputy President William Ruto stressed the need to rally the 1.6 million unregistered voters in the region “to be added to the 3.3 others from central Kenya and other Jubilee strongholds”.

“You have a stake in the government and in Jubilee party...You must rally supporters to the last person to vote for President Kenyatta,” he said, adding that it was not just 2017 at stake but 2022 too.

And the chests are brimming with cash. The August elections will be the most robustly funded, according to analysts.

 As a sign that politicians would pull all the stops to spend in the run-up to the elections, MPs pushed for the implementation of the Election Campaign Finance law.

Parties can receive up to Sh15.03 billion in contributions with a single source limited to Sh3 billion. Expenditure is restricted to Sh5.25 billion for presidential candidates, Sh433 million for governors, senators and woman reps, Sh33.4 million for MPs and Sh10 million for ward reps.

Despite the fact that parties are required to file their accounts with the Registrar of Political Parties, it might be difficult to know just how much they have amassed so far.

TRACEABLE MONEY

Going by the 2007 figure of Sh6 billion traceable money spent by Mr Mwai Kibaki of PNU and Mr Odinga of ODM, and the 2013 figure of 10 billion spent by Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta as reported by Coalition for Accountable Political Financing — a think-tank — the 2017 poll expenditure could blow those figures out of the water.

Even campaign strategies have been taken a notch higher.

In an interview, Prof Makau Mutua said a compact and well-defined coalition of opposition parties could create a euphoria like the 2002 case.

“ODM, Wiper, Amani, Ford-K and the other parties, including Kanu members disaffected with Jubilee’s misrule can easily recreate the Narc euphoria of 2002. Jubilee has panicked,” he said.

Mr Machel Waikenda, formerly of the National Oversight Board in The National Alliance and currently the youth executive of Kiambu County, however, says Jubilee’s “achievements” would ensure “the opposition is whitewashed”.

Last year, President Kenyatta recruited a fresh team of advisers.

Mr Odinga did the same when he constituted a team under University of Nairobi don Adams Oloo.

Jubilee has hired campaign consultants from the UK and raided opposition strongholds in the Coast, Western and Lower Eastern for votes and elected leaders.

OLDER POLITICIANS

Insider reports show that the President is consulting more with older politicians like Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi.

The option of scuttling Nasa is still on the table through encouraging and sponsoring presidential contenders from opposition strongholds.

The opposition’s game plan, on the other hand, involves exposing corruption in government and encouraging protests.

But even as politicians rally their troops, religious and business leaders have called for caution.

“There are signs of uncertainty already. The shilling is sliding against other currencies and property prices are falling,” said former permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo.

Dr Ndemo said high political temperatures could tear the country apart unless parties moderated opinions on social media.

The sentiments were echoed by the founder of Rich Management Aly-Khan Satchu.

“Kenya does not have a good record in handling elections. We saw that in 1992, 1997 and 2007. About 1.4 per cent of the GDP is lopped off during the election years,” he said.

Rev Benjamin Lemosi of Evangelical Lutheran Church called on MPs to stop using inflammatory language.

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