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Friday, August 18, 2017

Why NASA is not about to name its candidate

NASA Coalition principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula, Musalia Mudavadi and Raila Odinga during their rally at the Masinde Muliro Grounds in Huruma on March 24, 2017. Photo/Jack Owuor

NASA has delayed naming a presidential candidate for tactical reasons, not because of discord or inability to decide, insiders say.

The alliance will wait until the last possible moment to unveil its ticket, Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama told the Star yesterday. He is on NASA’s 12-member National Coordinating Committee.

The IEBC deadline for reporting candidates is May 10. The election is on August 8.

Despite a torrent of criticism, mockery and anxiety over delay, the strategy is to take Jubilee by surprise, Muthama said.

“Our secret weapon is how we are moving. We cannot just expose things to our Jubilee opponents because they will start poking holes in us,” he said. Delay in naming a candidate delays implementation of Jubilee’s own strategy, which depends on undermining the opposition flagbearer.

“We have finished our work (Tumemaliza kazi yetu) and we are just polishing finer details. We will continue meeting,” Muthama said.

Last week ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi told a press conference, “We are not in a hurry to pick a flagbearer since we are following the IEBC timelines.”

This will be a critical week for NASA as the NCC submits its final report on the best possible ticket to the four principals on Thursday.

Yesterday afternoon, the four were meeting at Capitol Hill and deciding where they should hold a retreat starting on Friday to decide on the ticket. The retreat will include the NCC and its technical committee.

The four are Raila Odinga (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya).

NASA has been vague on when the announcement will be made, with earlier indications that it could be known by April 10, next Monday.

The alliance has drawn up elaborate rules to pick its flagbearer and mapped the country into three zones to gauge the strengths of each principal.

A report by the NCC’s technical team identified NASA strongholds, swing-vote battleground areas and Jubilee strongholds. The alliance also has conducted opinion polls.

The aim is consesus.

This is how selection will work,

1. Before the NCC and technical team, each principal will defend his numbers in NASA strongholds.

2. The three principals with the highest numbers will proceed to the next stop. They must be able to convert swing-vote battleground counties into NASA strongholds. One is likely to be dropped.

3. The committees will then identify one candidate who can garner 30 percent of the total votes in Jubilee strongholds, if endorsed by the alliance as flagbearer.

4. The presidential candidate will then be decided by the NCC and technical committee.

Then comes choice of the running mate.

The rules favour Raila, Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula at different levels and in different places.

Thus, there will be various ticket scenarios.

As the four share basic ideology, they each have strong influence within strongholds.

However, each ticket lineup has different implications for outcomes.

The stronghold counties: Mombasa, Kakamega, Busia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kilifi, Kitui, Kwale, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Machakos, Kisii, Nyamira, Makueni, Kakamega and Vihiga.

Comment: It's high time NASA named its unified candidate

Battlegrounds: Nairobi, Trans Nzoia, Nakuru, Tana River and Kilifi.

“When we say he must have capacity to change a battleground into a stronghold, we are looking at what the person can add to our campaigns. Remember, NASA is all about uniting the country,” a committee member said.

Muthama and Vihiga Senator George Khaniri earlier told the Star the committee was on track but declined to disclose details.

Now we have some details.

A source privy to the talks said the technical team was worried that if Raila, Musalia and Kalonzo were not on the ballot, there would be significant voter apathy.

NCC member Francis Nyenze of Wiper, who is National Assembly minority leader, demanded NASA endorse Kalonzo as flagbearer or Wiper would quit and “NASA is dead.”

He issued an ultimatum that expired on Monday.

A conflict is likely when Raila, Kalonzo, Musalia and Wetang’ula lay claim to strategic counties such as Busia, Mombasa, Kilifi, Vihiga, Kakamega and Kwale, among others.

All have elected leaders serving in the National Assembly from the regions, despite some being far from their home counties.

For example, in Mombasa county Hassan Joho is governor in ODM and Senator Hassan Omar is in Wiper. Both Raila and Kalonzo lay claim to the region.

The rules are backed by external and internal polls, last election voting patterns and the number of registered voters.

NASA is heading to Nakuru, Kapsabet and then Thika as it seeks to make inroads in President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto’s turf.

The alliance has identified Jubilee strongholds in Kalenjin Rift Valley counties and the Mount Kenya region.

The flagbearer must be assure the team he can garner 30 percent of their votes.

The team believes Narok and Kajiado in Rift Valley will vote as a bloc for NASA.

A good flagbearer should be able to perform well in Tharaka Nithi and Meru against Uhuru.

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