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January 23, 2019

Voter turnout key in 2017

An Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) agent demonstrates the use of newly acquired Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kit./FILE
An Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) agent demonstrates the use of newly acquired Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kit./FILE

The next general election will be won on voter turnout; period.

This was the reason why I was concerned when the idea of a merger of all Jubilee affiliated parties was first mooted. My fear was that it would adversely affect President Uhuru

Kenyatta’s ultimate presidential vote due to voter apathy, in case of intra-party fights after nominations. 

My position was based on how the ODM nominations in 2013 aff ected Raila Odinga’s presidential vote.

He lost over 200,000 voters he had mobilised to vote for him just two months earlier, because they were angry their preferred candidates were rigged out during the ODM nominations and were not on the ballot.

However, when I got the chance to listen to the President as he explained why a single Jubilee Party is important, I understood why he was willing to take this route. The

President and DeputyPresident William Ruto are determined to have Kenyans stop ethnic political mobilisation.

Merging the Jubilee affi liated parties into the Jubilee Party is their way of passing the message that they do not want to be supported by ethnic blocs; they want to be backed by

all Kenyans irrespective of their ethnic background.

It is a powerful message. It is also a direct distinction between Jubilee and Cord, who are still a conglomerate of ethnic political mobilisation units. Jubilee is asking Kenyans to

chose between tribalism and unity.

By the way, eradicating ethnic political mobilisation is a key legacy project for President Uhuru. It is so important to him that he is risking his presidency by forcing all Jubilee supporters to vote in one party, while his competitors take the easier route of mobilising tribe-against-tribe.

Uhuru has taken the harder route to victory and this is what positively distinguishes him from the rest.

But for Uhuru to win, the entire Jubilee leadership must understand his thinking and align their local politics to his ideology, especially in Jubilee strongholds.

JP leaders must understand that they have three primary tasks for them to win in 2017.

One, they must immediately embark on a campaign to popularise the new party across the country, village by village.

They must go out and explain to Kenyans what  Jubilee stands for; that it is a mass movement owned by the

local people wherever they are, and a political home for any Kenya irrespective of background. They must explain that the Jubilee Party is being built bottom-up; member-by member, not top-down. is is the essence of Uhuru and Ruto’s message of no preferred candidates.

Two, they must aggressively explain the achievements of the Jubilee administration in its first term.The Jubilee Party machine is where Kenyans get to hear the immense progress made over the last four years in infrastructure, health, education, security, etc.

Local Jubilee leaders must therefore use the party infrastructure primarily as the platform where these achievements are articulated in a way that the local people understand.

Finally, they must aggressively mobilise the people to register as voters without concern as to whether these voters will vote for them or their competitors at the local level.

The main objective is to get as many as possible to vote for Uhuru at the national level.

They must explain to their supporters that Uhuru’s victory hinges on every single supporter registering as a voter and getting out to vote, irrespective of local dynamics.

To all incumbent and aspiring Jubilee politicians, this is not the time to fight over political party positions at county, subcounty and ward levels; or to divide party positions in boardrooms.

This is the time to recruit massively into the party, push for voter registration aggressively, and sell Jubilee achievements articulately.

Whoever does this best at the local level deserves to get the party ticket .

Meanwhile, welcome to Nyeri President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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