Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Will The Raila-Bashing Strategy Work For Kibaki?
The president’s campaign strategy has begun to take shape.
It is rather clear that it will involve a lot of Raila-bashing. The idea will be to put fear and anxiety in the hearts of voters on the dangers of a Raila presidency. The message is that he is not to be trusted with such an important seat and with so much power. The most likely thing that will happen, those handling the president’s campaign want to tell Kenyans, is that Raila will use the presidency to seek revenge and thus slide the country into chaos.
This strategy has many similarities to the strategy that was used by Karl Rove the legendary campaigner of President George Bush who against all odds got his man back to the White House in 2004 despite widespread discontent with the Bush handling of the Iraq war and other issues. It worked very well, especially when Osama Bin Laden released one of those video tapes of his right on cue, very shortly before Americans went to the polls. The message to American voters was simple; can you trust John Kerry to deal with Bin Laden and the war on terror? Bearing in mind that the events of 9/11 were still very fresh on the minds of many Americans many of them felt that their better option and the lesser evil was George Bush. That is one presidential election that political scientists will study and analyze for many years to come.
But back to Kenya. Can President Kibaki’s strategy work in closing the gap between himself and Raila Odinga in the presidential race? Can it give him victory?
My answer is that the president urgently needs a strategy if he is to win these elections. In other words the current approach will fall flat on its’ face.
Clearly it is the kind of strategy that has struck a chord with my dad who is over 70 and an ex-senior policeman. However how many voters do we have in Kenya of that age and background?
The other thing this strategy does not address is the Kikuyu back-lash caused by 5 years of arrogance and too many appointments from the house of Mumbi in a country that boasts of at least 42 tribes. The president’s strategists have tried to address this issue by placing full page advertisements in the press listing senior appointments in government and their tribes.
Again the president’s men have missed the point completely. In these matters perception counts much more than actual numbers. What do you expect when you appoint a Kikuyu as governor of the Central Bank denying a popular lady who has done an excellent job as acting governor? And that is just one example. Take for instance another highly visible appointment like that of director of CID which Kenyans have observed is always a tribal appointment. During Kibaki’s tenure two appointments have been made—both Kikuyu.
What I really wonder about is what else President Kibaki can talk about when he is not talking about that unnamed leader who has done nothing over the last 5 years. While it is true that both Raila and Kibaki are uninspiring speakers, the president is obviously in a very difficult position because his main opponent has a lot to talk about which will get many more Kenyans listening to him than to the president.
Right now things look rather bleak for the Kibaki camp according to all the reports and analysis I have in front of me, some of which I cannot even talk about here. I don’t see how the president’s campaign can be saved. Anyway, I will sleep over it and see if I can come up with a brilliant counter strategy for the Kibaki camp tomorrow.
ODM supporters I hear you and I can see you making faces. Please don’t throw barbs at me. I am after all like Taabu and Luke, still horseless and they say that this thing is a game don’t they? So let’s play.
Posted by Chris at 12:09 PM