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November 19, 2018

Sonko Is A Phenomenon Of A Public Tired Of Status Quo

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko. Photo/File
Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko. Photo/File

The US Republican party is in turmoil.

In the latest round of party primaries to identify the Republican flagbearer in this year’s US presidential elections, the party was left reeling after rebel Donald Trump won handily.

The billionaire reality TV and holiday resorts owner, swept through majority of the American south states such as Alabama and Georgia, much to the chagrin of the party elites.

Establishment candidates like Jeb Bush have already fallen by the wayside. After thumping victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina, The Donald, as he is known, stampeded to victory in seven out of the 11 states that voted last Tuesday.

He is all but sure to capture the party ticket by May and this has left the establishment figures including the Bush era war hawks known as Neoconservatives considering the unthinkable; to vote for the mortal enemy, presumptive Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.

Said Robert Kagan, a noted Republican hawk.

“The only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.”

This is the Republican Party coming full circle. The party of Abraham Lincoln, was founded by anti-slavery activists in 1854.

It used to be dominant in the Northern states which supported abolition of slavery and was massively supported by African Americans.

Today, it is the opposite. It is dominant in the formerly slave-keeping states of the south, is seen as conservative and overwhelmingly White Anglo-Saxon Protestant and elitist.

Its last Presidency, that of George W. Bush, was a disaster.

It not only led the country to two disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it also insisted on cutting taxes for the rich even as the economy deteriorated and capped it all by overseeing the sub-prime mortgage crisis that brewed the global financial crisis.

While majority Americans suffered either job losses or lost homes and savings, the Bush regime bailed out the same greedy bankers that caused the crisis in the first place.

This was the culmination of the people’s pent-up anger against the administration and the Republicans lost the White House.

In the case of this year’s primaries, the same party faithful have shown that they are tired of the establishment and are registering protest votes in massive numbers propelling Donald Trump to victory despite the best efforts of the party top brass to derail his march to nomination.

This week, here in Kenya, reports are beginning to surface that a good number of Kenyan MPs have benefited from the National Youth Service funds that have raised so much furore about grand corruption.

The MPs come from across the aisle and it is said they ate the money on the basis that their companies were providing consultancy services to the NYS.

This is even as other reports say money from the National Youth Fund, a separate entity from the NYS, was looted to the tune of Sh400million.

Kenyans have almost become resigned to these corruption stories

It is merely a matter of where the next one will spring from.

Which brings me to the spectre of Mike Mbuvi popularly known as Sonko.

The flashy, bejewelled Senator from Nairobi, befuddles foes by his apparent ability to command popularity across party lines.

It is almost a given that if he vies for the Nairobi governor’s seat, he will win by a landslide.

Which is puzzling because Sonko has little public administration to speak of, has no imposing academic credentials to speak of nor is he seen as a man of integrity in the cut of Chief Justice Willie Mutunga.

And yet, like Trump, he could very well mount a very disruptive national campaign for the country’s top seat.

While it is known that President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Opposition chief Raila Odinga, are the presumptive leading candidates for the Presidential elections next year.

But both their camps, I can bet, would tremble, at the thought of a Sonko candidacy for president.

For the simple reason, that Sonko is more in touch with the common folk than they are.

Right now, the nation is absolutely fatigued by the daily stories of corruption and the seemingly incapability of State institutions to deal with it.

Just like in America, angry and fed up voters are voting against the establishment candidates, there is the real possibility that a candidate who can speak to the sentiments Kenyans hold currently, whether a Sonko type or any other maverick candidate not linked to the establishment will run the tables on the presumptive front runners.

Besides the US, in Italy recently, we saw a comedian almost form the government after he came a close second in the first round of elections.

It took the joint efforts of the number one and the number three candidates to beat him out in the second round.

In Madagascar, a music deejay (DJ) took the presidency on the back of a fed up populace as the unpopular president fled the island.

Envisage this, what if a Sonko was to run and record a second place finish in the general elections and the country goes to a second round?

There is a large and growing protest vote, against anybody establishment, whether government or opposition and voters are likely to show their anger at the polls next season.

By some indications, 80 per cent of incumbents, MPs, Governors, Senators and so on, are unlikely to make it back.

Let Trump be a lesson to the current leaders that the anger and apathy that is amongst voters is real and they will not be blamed for seemingly making a foolish choice. It is not foolish, like Trump and the Republicans, the people will just be expressing their right to protest against non performance.

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