On the 8th of August Kenya will embark on a general election that will spell a wave of change in the democratic country as indicated in the party nominations. In the party primaries nearly half of the members of parliaments lost; it was also in the party primaries where a cook and a watchman surprised well off incumbents to beat them in landslide victories. This year’s general election is the most contested in Kenya’s history with over 50,000 aspirants vying for the elective posts of president, governor, senator, members of parliament (MP), member of county assembly (MCA) and women representatives with the majority of the aspirants vying for MCA positions. Most eyes however are on the presidential contest with 18 people vying for the top seat. Below is the list of the presidential aspirants
Party Presidential Nominees
- Uhuru Kenyatta – Jubilee Party- The sitting president
- Raila Amolo Odinga-ODM- The opposition leader
- Peter Ondeng – Restore and Build Kenya Party
- Abduba Dida – Tunza Coalition
- Kennedy Mongare – Federal Party of Kenya.
- Ekuru Aukot – Thirdway Alliance Party.
- Cyrus Jirongo- UDP Party
- Joe Nyagah
- Michael Wainaina
- David Munga
- Stephen Oweke Oganga
- Robert Mukwana Juma
- Joseph Ngacha
- Japheth Kavinga
- Nixon Kukubah
- Joseph Musyoka
Idealistically and democratically speaking there are 16 candidates vying for the top seat but if we were realistic the Presidential race is a two horse race between the incumbent H.E Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition leader Raila Odinga with analysists calling it 50:50. However, the current rising inflation and the rise in food prices is championing the opposition’s cause. Septuagenarian Raila Amolo Odinga will vie for the seat that has eluded him on three occasions. Political analysists have further added that the race between the President and the former Prime minister will be tight. According to recent opinion polls Raila will garner 47% while Uhuru will garner 46% which would result in a run off , that is if the opposition voter’s turn out is high. In this light the opposition (NASA) launched the campaign slogan #10millionstrong which means that they will get 10 million votes for their candidate Raila Odinga from the 19 million registered voters ensuring that the top seat is theirs. The ruling party, Jubilee, hit back with the slogan #45millionstrong in which the Jubilee government is saying it’s not concerned with winning the election but their primary goal is to serve all 45million Kenyans.
The 2017 elections sadly is more likely to be ethnically determined as indicated by the two strongholds. Uhuru Kenyatta has the support of the expansive Kikuyu who are the largest community in the country and his deputy president adds the support of the Rift valley tribes. The opposition principals are also not left behind with allegations pointing out that the formation of the National Super Alliance (NASA) was based on the ethnic considerations of its five co-principals: the presence of Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula is to ensure Luyha votes go into one basket with Raila Odinga naturally expected to amass massive support from the Luo and wider Nyanza region. Meanwhile, Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka is seen as the mouthpiece of the Akamba in the Eastern region and Isaac Ruto is seemingly NASA’s ambassador in the perceived Jubilee stronghold of the Rift Valley among the Kalenjin. What further fuels this allegation is the fact that the five main parties that came together to form NASA -ODM, Wiper, Ford Kenya, ANC and Chama Cha Mashinani- do not share a single common ideology or agenda of what they will do for Kenyans.
However, this has not barred Odinga from campaigning in Jubilee strongholds and Uhuru from campaigning in NASA strongholds making the race even tighter. The candidates also have the daunting tasks of catching votes from smaller tribal communities because the number of votes from their own ethnic groups will not be enough to ensure they clinch the 50+1% victory. Deputy President Ruto has a lot to lose in this elections. In 2013 he proved to be the surprise kingmaker by helping Uhuru to win the election by 50.07% by securing the votes in the rift valley and in a rub-my-back-I-rub-yours gesture president Uhuru promised to back him for presidency in the 2022 general election. If Raila surprises the odds and wins this election, it will jeopardize the deputy president hopes of securing the top seat in 2022.
The Kenyan youth are the ones to watch as they hold the swing votes; at least 80 percent of Kenya’s population is made up of people aged 35 and below. According to Kenya’s demographics, the country boasts of the most youthful voters in the East African region with more than half of the registered voters being youths; their participation in the August 8 general elections will be crucial and might determine who wins the presidency. In the past, a section of Kenyan politicians have used the youth for all the wrong reason from buying off votes from desperate unemployed youths to inciting them to engage in violence in protest of election results; this was witnessed in the 2007 election violence After elections, the youth are always left perplexed after receiving empty promises from politicians. The jobs that they are promised are not created, scholarships are nowhere to be found while the cost of living is ever growing in the Kenyan economy. Today, the Kenyan youth have said enough is enough as they want to directly help build their nation through democratic means. Both Uhuru and Raila have discovered the hidden potential in the Kenyan youth and the race is truly on to win their votes.
This 2017 elections will prove the toughest one yet for the east African country.