By Dorcas S
Simply stated, all campaign events by NASA between today (July 4) till Election Day should be geared towards solidifying the party’s base in Nyanza, Western, Coast and specific pockets in Eastern and Rift Valley counties.
While I agree that the optics of a huge turnout in Kiambu (or any other Jubilee stronghold) for a NASA (Raila/Kalonzo) event are compelling and absolutely add to the party’s “Big Tent” storyline, I’d argue that the sea-of-humanity images also play well in TV commercials specifically targeting these regions – Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Eldoret etc. This is particularly crucial given the time constraints now facing the candidates. NASA should run TV commercials in this non-traditional regions; this instead of sending the candidates – especially the top of the ticket Raila and Kalonzo.
Kenyans and the international community have made it clear to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), President Kenyatta and his ruling Jubilee Coalition that nothing short of an open AND fair election on August 8 will be acceptable.
The country has also made it crystal clear that any attempts at rigging the August Elections is NOT acceptable.
Finally, with the International Criminal Court cases against Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto still open and the traumatic PEV-2007 experience still fresh in the nation’s psyche, any misuse/abuse of the instruments of violence – law enforcement, paramilitary, military and security services – by the government or its agents will be immediately noted for possible further action.
The foregoing positives notwithstanding, the risk that Jubilee and the Jubilee-leaning IEBC will attempt to abrogate the country’s hard-won democratic freedoms is still real – as noted by Daily Nation’s Macharia Gaitho who writes that Kenya’s “history tells us that incumbents will habitually steal elections……even as they demonize as trouble makers, those who raise the alarm on the threats to free and fair elections.”
The last thing NASA wants to see happen is a campaign-closing strategy that allows Jubilee to pull what Mwai Kibaki and PNU pulled in 2007 – manipulate a close election partly caused by apathy, over-confidence and failure to aggressively shore up the base.
So while NASA has demonstrated that it can simultaneously walk (keep Jubilee honest) and chew gum (aggressively campaign), the focus from now to election day should be on one thing:
– Solidifying its base and shoring up its “Big Tent” reputation in specific pockets in non-base regions.
During the waning days of America’s 2016 Elections, Hillary Clinton’s campaign made, what in hindsight was, the mistake of dedicating resources in traditionally Republican-leaning states such as Arizona and Georgia. She did this while ignoring the battleground AND Democratic-leaning states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Ms. Clinton won the popular vote by over 3million votes but lost the Electoral College vote because she lost these four states by a total of 637K out of the ~10Million cast (in the 4 states).
Fast-forward one year later to the waning days of Kenya’s General Elections and there are eerie similarities between NASA 2017 and Democrats 2016. Fortunately with the benefit of hindsight, NASA can change the outcome experienced by the Democrats.
The party must not spend the candidates’ finite time away from its strongholds – in places such Kiambu, Nyeri, and pockets of the Rift Valley and Eastern region that are solidly pro-Jubilee.
It’s that simple.