Capital FM (Nairobi)

20 January 2013

Kenya: Why Waititu, Sonko Emerged Victorious

opinion

The sheepish reactions by the elitist urbane and pretentious middle class towards Ferdinand Waititu and Mike Mbuvi Sonko's triumph in the just concluded TNA party primaries for Nairobi County gubernatorial and senatorial contests are astounding.

They generally point to one fact; that people who live in the comfortable and privileged parts of the City have no clue about life in the highly congested parts and are scared of losing the privileged near-lord status they currently enjoy. But are the people expressing shock and disgust at Waititu's and Sonko's triumph through social media right?

I have previously registered and voted in Starehe Constituency since 1992, and I must admit I have never cast a vote in favour of Mr Jimnah Mbaru. At the heat of campaigns, his competitors always paint him as an arrogant, snobbish and elitist manager who belongs to corporate boardrooms.

The voters in parts of Eastleigh, Pumwani, Majengo and Mathare seem to have accepted this description of Mbaru thus branding him the distinction of a perennial loser in Starehe.

What the people expressing shock and pouring vitriol against Waititu fail to appreciate is that Kenya is a democracy and the people who live in Mathare, Kibagare, Mukuru, Githurai, Kawangware, Umoja Kayole etc have equal votes to those who live in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi.

In politics everybody has and is entitled to their opinion; however in an election only the votes that are cast and counted matter. The people who woke up and braved the cold morning chill and endured the hot afternoon sun have spoken. Waititu is their governor of choice; Sonko their senator!

On the other hand it is unfortunate that Jimnah Mbaru is the Facebook & Twitter governor, for the snobbish and pretentious elites who were perhaps too lazy to wake up or too busy to queue (read 'waste' time) and vote in party primaries! The good thing is that our Constitution guarantees the right to equality before the law in every aspect of life; thus a slum dwellers' vote is equal to that of a Karen tycoon!

Now, a counter-reaction to the pretentious urban elite; your whining will not help; in fact it displays the disdain that the elitist wannabes have towards the real workers who drive the economy of this city and the country! That you have resources and can afford to use acres and acres of cyber-space in social media to pour vitriol on fellow citizens who believe in and voted for Waititu and Sonko actually proves that you are motivated by an arrogant, dismissive, and snobbish attitude to besmirch, abuse and dehumanise voters in places like Githurai, Mukuru, Mathare, Embakasi, Kayole et al.

This is an anti-thesis in democracy where basic rules ordain that one man has one vote; the tycoon in Karen has an equal voice with the voter in Korogocho! Or is that a very hard lesson?

And anybody who imagines that leadership has anything to do with academic papers is dead wrong! Research by international anti-fraud agencies has shown that most of the fraudsters in government, private sector and in religion have a lot of good academic papers but they spend 75percent of their time plotting to steal and rob the poor.

They are highly educated smart thieves and have the same kind of disdain the local elite are showing through social media towards poor people who vote for the likes of Waititu and Sonko.

Actually any plot owner in a place like Embakasi is more likely to trust Waititu and Sonko more than Kidero or Mbaru with their vote, because they know they will not use some officialdom to grab and allocate it to some favoured well connected elite!

After all, Waititu has been arrested many times fighting against grabbing of public land in Embakasi or the forceful eviction of poor people from the humble dwellings by well connected individuals. The poor who live in Nairobi slums are victims of the predatory State ran by the educated elite in Kenya and nobody should be surprised that they support Waititu and Sonko who show concern and empathy to their plight.

Finally, it is important to consider why the super-rich Marc Ravalomanana, former president of Madagascar lost power to a DJ and TV personality Andry Rajoelina.

A study into how DJ Rajoelina got elected as Mayor of Antananarivo before ousting the president using people power would be a good lesson to people whining about Waititu and Sonko.

In the same vein the political developments in Venezuela where the poor vote massively in favour of President Hugo Chavez and his VP Nicolas Maduro a former bus driver are good lessons to the elite in Nairobi.

This may help the elites appreciate democracy and people's right and ability to choose their leaders! Politics is not like corporate boardroom contest where money and snobbery rule. Politics is about influence and successful politics is power. Waititu and Sonko are champions of the poor; they influence the poor in the neglected and less endowed parts of Nairobi and the poor voted for them the same way they do for Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

Collins Wanderi is a commentator on social issues

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