By the end of this year, all talk of ‘development’ would be dead. Campaign proper is set to start by mid this year, and in the next two years, the push and pull of politics shall all be geared towards 2017.
Yet, for the opposition CORD, the 2013 campaign disorganization which legitimized Jubilee victory Â persists. ODM still conducts dubious nominations. Allegations of ODM electoral officials being paid to push for certain candidates pervades.
Perceptively, ODM and CORD are still on ‘electoral reform’ politics, not electoral politics. IEBC remains that discredited organization which bungled the 2013 elections in form, attitude and content. Let’s revisit 2013, with specific focus on the media machine.
The Jubilee Alliance, CORD’s opponents, had hired an international reputable PR organization, BTP Advisers, to manage President Uhuru’s media messages – from social media to mainstream media – and they had been here for close to three years before the 2013 elections.
Now, there is the place of money in politics, but then after Barack Obama (2008), the art (and science) of political campaigns had been forever changed, and that a political underdog could, with new media tools, defeat big money.
If many of you ask why CORD campaigns were poorly managed in 2013, perhaps this would help: I spoke to a former PS who was then allied to the ODM side in the grand coalition government. He told me how the national intelligence service had predicted that social media would not have any impact on the 2012 (for a long time between 2008-2011 most people believed elections would be held in 2012) race ‘because very few Kenyans’ were internet enabled.
NIS had, week after week, briefed both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that the country would not be shaken by social media activism. During that time, Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya included, was wary of the potential spillover of the Arab Spring, then sweeping swathes of Middle East and North Africa countries.
This PS was emphatic to me that they were convinced social media would play no role at all. They trusted NIS.
But 2010 was also the year President Uhuru had secretly started assembling a campaign media machine. And the President, then an influential cabinet minister, had earlier in March been indicted by the International Criminal Court.
Even as the opposition remained adamant on the matter of investing on social media, Team Uhuru was assembling what remains today as the best social media campaign team. He went shopping for the who-was-who in Kenya’s blogosphere.
On the CORD side, the blogosphere remained sketchy and disjointed, with no attempt to organize the many volunteers who were doing all they could to push the CORD message online. Worse, CORD had assembled a presidential secretariat that was full of vultures and moneymakers and moles, for most of those who worked at that secretariat ‘quit’ immediately, with some openly telling CORD to accept the defeat and move on, even as Supreme Court hearings progressed.
The problem with Raila Odinga 2013 campaign secretariat was both organic and structural. Organic because it was filled with people with bloated egos. Structural because it had the worst bureaucracy. No decision could be made promptly because so many people were in charge of the same things.
The result of the CORD disorganization is that no strategy could be effected seamlessly without it either being sabotaged from within, or leaked to the coalition’s competitors, so that they planned a counter-action before it happened.