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February 18, 2019

Political crowds do not mean votes

Political crowds do not mean votes
Political crowds do not mean votes

It is impossible to transport one group of 6,000 hired people to different counties to vote

Last week Senator Moses Wetang’ula stated that crowds do not translate into votes. I thought he was just repeating the obvious. However, the reactions from ODM supporters especially, and the publicity the statement attracted made me realise that this statement is profound, at least to some of us.

So let me explain why what he said is pure common sense.

Building up a campaign crowd is relatively easy. You go to your stronghold and identify 10 local opinion leaders (usually serving or local councilors or MCAs). Each then helps you identify five other people who are able to bring together groups of people. The 60 are then tasked with mobilising 100 people. In short order you have mobilised 6,000 people. If you need to transport all or some of them across counties 100 60-seater buses will easily move the 6,000 people wherever you need them to be.

In this day and age mobilising people for a four-hour rally can cost as little as Sh100 per person, depending on where you are; the further from Nairobi the cheaper it gets. The total mobilisation cost will therefore be Sh1,000 for each of the first group of 10 people; Sh500 each for the second group of 50; and Sh100 for the final 6,000. Then add Sh10,000 per bus for 100 buses.

This means that at Sh1,635,000, which is really peanuts for any national politician worth his salt, one can easily move a crowd of 6,000 people from a place like Nyanza to Kakamega, for instance. In fact you can even maintain the contacts of this entire group of 6,000 and use them wherever and whenever you want. The crowd will always look very large anywhere you are. In addition a crowd of 6,000 paid people will usually easily attract another 1,000-3,000 local bystanders, depending on the day and time. This means you can easily raise crowds of 8,000-10,000 people wherever you need them.

However there is one more trick. You must identify the right location. The space must look large, but structured in a way that the crowd is pushed into a specific place. This is why Uhuru Park in Nairobi is so popular. Some 8,000 people then end up looking squeezed. Add a smart cameraman who knows how to play around with angles and this crowd ends up looking like 50,000 or 100,000 people! (Yes, this is how politicians do it).

But these tricks do not work at the ballot. It is impossible to transport one group of 6,000 people around to different counties to vote. It is also not possible to ‘magnify’ votes using camera tricks. This is what ‘Weta’ is talking about.

Unfortunately ODM supporters do not know this. This lack of understanding is the basis from which they always claim that Raila Odinga wins elections and they are stolen.



I have read the report by Human Rights Watch on extrajudicial killings of terror suspects. I accept that we have a few rogue elements in the security forces. But this happens in any profession in the world. What I have a problem with are the attempts by HRW to destroy the morale of the Kenyan security agencies in their war on terror. Terrorists do not use conventional means when they attack innocents; whether in Kenya, France, Germany or anywhere else in the world. Kenyans just want these terrorists stopped. Period.


ODM supporters can’t understand why Raila, a man able to attract such ‘large’ crowds, never wins elections. Well, now they know

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