Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: By-Elections a Test About What Locals Want

opinion

There has been many debates and analysis about the just concluded by-elections in three constituencies and 15 civic wards. This is hardly surprising in a country where even the most plain set of facts always attract conflicting conclusions based on where one stands in the political divide.

Luckily, whilst everyone is entitled to their opinion, they are not entitled to their facts. Facts are sacred and a few of them stand on a pedestal in the just concluded polls.

Out of the three constituencies that were being contested, the fledgling new kid on the block, The National Alliance (TNA) won a whopping 67 percent of them while the Orange Democratic Movement(ODM) won 33pc of the seats. In the battle for civic seats, ODM won six seats, TNA won five, Wiper Democratic Movement won two, while Ford Kenya and New Ford Kenya won one each.

Overall, 133,054 number of votes were cast in the by-elections. TNA led the pack garnering 38.89 pc or 51,878 votes, followed by ODM with 33.7pc or 44,837 votes, PNU with a respectable 4.46pc or 5,929 votes, Wiper Democratic Movement with 4.44pc or 5,912 votes and UDF with 4.15pc or 5,520 votes.

TNA won civic or parliamentary seats in seven different counties while their closest challengers, ODM won seats in only four counties - including four seats in Homa Bay County alone. Clearly, the term 'National' in TNA's name is not a mere decoration.

Whichever way one looks at it, this was a resounding success for The National Alliance. For a party that was launched only 120 days ago, even pathological cynics will admit there is something the party is doing right. Some will attempt to view the results in ethnic lenses.

Yet the party won seats in Nairobi, Kajiado, Nyamira and Eldoret in addition to the few seats won in Kirinyaga, Muranga and Kiambu counties.

Still worse, others are trying to portray the result as setting the ground for a two horse race between TNA and their distantly remote challengers, ODM. To the undiscerning, this may look remotely factual. Yet nothing can be further from the truth. This election was all about the lives of Kenyans. It has nothing to do with horses.

The only reason some would want to play the two-horses card is not only to confuse Kenyans away from the real issues that informed this vote but also plant a seed for balkanization of our people along ethnic and other sectarian fractures and fissures.

Yet this election was never about horses, neither was it about personalities. It was about real Kenyans, making a statement about real issues in their real lives. They did not do so in opinion polls.

They spoke eloquently in real polling centres, by casting real votes in real ballot boxes. Without equivocation they stated that they truly believe in TNA's message of hope.

They were sending a clear message that they believe that their lives can be better and that through TNA they see a vehicle through which they can achieve our collective national aspirations. Whereas they know that they can definitely do better, they refused to fall prey to the cynicism of those who have opted to drive the car with the rear mirror only.

This election was never about horses. It was about Kenyans expressing their views about what kind of education they want for their children, their preferred choice of healthcare and the quality of their lives. It was a referendum on what is more important between empty rhetoric and politicking and the price of unga.

It was an expression of how they want agriculture to be revitalized through irrigation and other modern farming techniques. It was about unity of all Kenyans in a secure country at peace with herself and her neighbours. It was about affordable and renewable energy resources.

Ultimately it was a referendum on which team Kenyans trust to grow the economy, create real jobs and unite Kenyans towards achieving a prosperous middle-income economy through Vision 2030. With a deafening statement, Kenyans spoke loudly through the vote and said that they trust the TNA team to deliver these aspirations.

It is instructive to note that ODM, which was hitherto considered the leading party, was defeated squarely by TNA in all parameters. This is the price to pay for incumbency, unfortunately. ODM's presumptive candidate, Raila Odinga, is considered the only incumbent in the presidential race. As such, voters are expressing doubt about what Mr Odinga can do that he could not do as the incumbent for the last five years.

In conclusion, the violence that was experienced after the Ndhiwa, Wang'chieng and Wire Hill/Migwa by elections is regrettable. I hope that the police and IEBC will act on the violence in order to gain the confidence in Kenyans that the forthcoming elections will be free, fair and devoid of violence.

The writer is a strategy advisor to The National Alliance and the Uhuru Kenyatta 2013 Presidential Campaign.

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