Saturday, May 08, 2010
Kumekucha survey: How Kenyans will vote in the referendum
In the last referendum in 2005, Kumekucha was a very new blog and I must admit that I was pretty inexperienced. The result is that I predicted a win then for the yes camp after a very brief poll across only 3 provinces. That mistake still haunts me to this day.
And so this time I was taking no chances. When I started out, surveying Kenyans all over the country, the initial impression was that the vote was going to be pretty close, though still in favour of YES. Mainly because of the voter registration. It emerged that many of those in the “No” camp were much more passionate and had registered to vote in the referendum. Many of those loudly announcing that they would vote YES had not registered as voters and had no intention of doing so. I suspected that the churches were doing a good job getting their followers to register to defeat the Kadhi courts draft constitution.
However the situation quickly changed. The most stunning realization was just how much more aware the Kenyan voting public is today. They are pretty difficult to mislead. Folks I was absolutely amazed. Those politicians spreading falsehoods should realize that those old tricks are no longer viable with the vast majority of Kenyans.
I can now authoritatively report that the Yes vote will win by a massive landslide. The feeling amongst Kenyans is that the new constitution is much better than the current one because it empowers the ordinary mwananchi much more. Many Kenyans feel that although it is not perfect it is a good beginning in changing Kenya in the right direction. Prepare yourselves for a massive 75% YES vote when the vote is over and the results start coming in.
My heart goes out to the church in Kenya. They have some very legitimate concerns. The problem is that they did not have an effective strategy. The church found itself in the very unfamiliar territory of the new Kenya politics and did not even look for a consultant to advice them accordingly. The feeling was that the same old tricks used during the Moi era of calling press conferences would have the desired effect. It did not. Part of the reason is the massive loss of credibility in the church and its’ leaders after the post election troubles of early 2008 where the church divided Kenyans and helped fan the violence. In fact there is a section in the long KNHRC list of post election violence suspects that is headed “Men of God” and lists a number of ordained church ministers.
But all is not lost (and this is one of the things that I love most about the draft constitution). What the church has to do now is to prepare to oppose the clauses they do not like when the new constitution is enacted. I would advice that they put the abortion clause aside for the time being (besides in my view there is nothing wrong with this clause) and focus on the Kadhi courts. All they need is a million signatures to trigger the process of changing that and when it comes to the referendum they should easily be able to win that one. Although there will be the question of insensitivity against the rights of a minority group, in this case the muslims.
The mood in many parts of Kenya at the moment is the same one you get shortly before a general election when the president has dissolved parliament and called a general election and all that people are waiting for is the election date. Sadly there are many parts of the country where Kenyans feel deeply traumatized as they approach another ballot box situation after the last one caused so much death and suffering. In the last few days I have talked to many Kenyans who lost loved ones and others who described harrowing experiences that they still cannot wipe out of their minds. When you hear a small pop-like explosion inside a burning building, what does the sound mean? It usually means a human stomach exploding as a result of the heat from the flames. I am told it is a terrible haunting sound that can never really leave you.
There is no doubt on my mind that the troubles of 2008 are one of the main catalysts that has helped push for reforms before the next general elections. Had it not happen, it is unlikely that we would now be on the verge of a new constitution. So in a way all those poor Kenyans who died such terrible deaths did not die in vain.
This is a reminder that the price we have paid for this new constitution is way too high. So high that I will not hesitate to vote YES, YES.