The entry of Vanguard Africa, the American pro-democracy firm which ‘won’ the recent Gambian election and midwifed the transition from longtime autocrat Yahya Jammeh to current leader Adama Barrow has seen Kenya Government propagandists, including blogger Dennis Itumbi, take to online platforms to muddy the reputation of the American firm.
Mr. Odinga in his latest trip to the US met and held discussions with Vanguard Africa executives, though sources privy to the meeting told this writer nothing substantive has been agreed. It is also believed Mombasa Governor and ODM Deputy Party Leader met Vanguard’s team.
Vanguard Africa’s work in The Gambia has set it up against African dictators, and many of firms directors, including the founder Jeffrey Smith, a longtime human rights defender across Africa, are under top surveillance.
From Itumbi, writing on Facebook, it appears President Uhuru’s team contacted vanguard and the firm flatly refused to offer its services to him. This must be understood within the context of Vangaurd’s Mission statement – to provide support to pro-reform candidates, leaders and governments committed to free and fair elections, democracy and accountability – and the contrast that Uhuru candidature presents, for Uhuru is, openly, a closet dictator only constrained by the progress Kenyan constitution, and a towering figure in Kenya’s politics – Raila Odinga.
In last election, the CORD opposition did not have a critical western PR agency which saw terrible blunders committed throughout the messaging of the opposition agenda ahead of the 2013 polls. On the other hand, President Uhuru had hired BTP Advisors, the British PR company that lobbies for a number of Africa regimes and governments, mostly autocratic regimes and corrupt governments. BTP Advisors up to now continue to be the main western Public Relations agency contracted by Uhuru.
On its website, BTP Advisers lists Kenya’s 2013 elections as one of its major successes in Sub-Sahara Africa.
The other, Tony Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) and Podesta Group are said to have been terminated. Blair was among senior European Leaders under Uhuru’s payroll during the ICC period, with the task of presenting Uhuru regime as a competent entity the British can work with.
Podesta Group is the firm that lobbied for President Obama’s much touted visit to Kenya. John Podesta, the founder of the firm, was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2016 US presidential elections which Hillary terribly lost to Republican Donald Trump.
As the influence of the Podesta Group has waned in the US, so has the PR crisis facing President Uhuru, whom, unknown to many, had hired Podesta to manage Kenya’s reputation in DC following the bungling of the Garissa University terror attack response.
The entry of Vangaurd Africa is a strategic leap for NASA. The unleashing of Itumbi and his online trolls on the organization is only the start of a vicious election war that can only get dirtier, Kenya style.
Read the profile of Vanguard Africa here.