MACHIAVELLI LESSONS

Elections easier won out of fear than love, hatred

In Kibra, for example, the fear of Raila losing to Ruto was more effective than the love Kibra voters have for Raila.

In Summary

• The most recent deployment of fear as a sure tool for political mobilisation was in Kibra. ODM support mobilisation was based more on the fear of Raila Odinga losing to DP William Ruto.

•The profiles of the respective candidates mattered less. The assault on Raila's so-called bedroom had to be dealt with frontally and decisively.

Imran Okoth receives the nomination certificate from party leader Raila Odinga at Orange House on September 10, 2019.
Imran Okoth receives the nomination certificate from party leader Raila Odinga at Orange House on September 10, 2019.
Image: EMMANUEL WANSON

Niccolo Machiavelli in his treatise The Prince avers that successful leaders instill fear in their followers than inspire love.

According to Machiavelli's view of how to be an effective leader, a ruler should be one who is feared but not hated. He further says fear is better than love because love is unreliable. All of the reasons that Machiavelli gives relate to how human nature controls men and drives them to commit crimes in order to reach their goals and satisfy themselves.

Before the organisation of Italy as a country, it was broken into city-states, one of which Machiavelli called home. He was a Florentine and was deeply concerned with how the political governments of Italy worked because the city-states were almost constantly at war with each other. 

 
 

He wrote The Prince when the Republic of Florence fell and was replaced by an autocrat named Lorenzo de' Medici. He wrote it to gain the favour of the new ruler but this attempt failed. Although a failure as a political tool, The Prince remains one of the best works dealing with the power system in a political state.

Leadership desires order and every leader seeks to control. Even the church brooks no pretense to democracy. That is why the claim that church leaders are ordained and represent God on earth is never put to debate. No believer dares challenge the position that the pulpit is holy and the person who stands there is God’s anointed servant. As in the political realm, the faithful is held together more by the fear of hell than the love for heaven. Fear, therefore, is a critical factor in effective leadership. As indicated above, fear should not be confused and equated to hatred.

Both are not the same and work differently to produce different results. Fear is crucial in political control as it is in the process of acquisition, dispensation and retention of power. Acquisition of power is ordinarily through elections except in coup d'etats. It is the most important of the three aspects of power because without it, power cannot be dispensed with and retained.

INTIMIDATION OF KADU

In Kenya, political power has been acquired through regular elections since Independence. At elections, parties present candidates and their respective manifestoes. It is expected as in ordinary democratic process that persuasion would be the stock of trade for the canvassing of votes. However, this was more applicable during the initial stages of our independence. Things began to dramatically change during the dissolution of Kadu and the assimilation of its leaders into government. The crossing over to the government side of the Kadu leadership led by Ronald Ngala and Daniel Moi was based more on enticement, intimidation and outright threat of political liquidation.

Kadu seemed to have no room to manoeuvre from the trap of national unity for development propaganda. The fear of being perceived as antidevelopment and causing fertile ground for division forced them to accede to Kanu demands. The three Kanu bulls of Jomo Kenyatta, Jaramogi Odinga and Tom Mboya pushed for the obliteration of Kadu for different individual reasons.

 
 

After the successful establishment of the unity government and subsequent republic under unelected President Kenyatta, there was less and less persuasion in successive elections. Fear became the choice mode of electoral canvassing and various tools were employed to communicate it to the voters.

USE OF FEAR IN KENYA

There exist various instances in Kenya when fear has been deployed with precise achievements. It has been more widespread since the reintroduction of plural politics in 1992. When then President Moi succumbed to demands from the opposition forces to allow the resumption of multiparty politics, he faced the first real challenge to his rule. The prospect of losing the presidency stared him in the face.

The united opposition front seemed unassailable and a cornered Moi had to think outside the box. He could no longer control the country by use of police force alone. He, therefore, devised a strategy to use fear in two fronts. Kanu under command from State House manipulated the psychology of the Kalenjin and made them believe that Moi was President on their behalf. It was thus their duty to ensure it never left the Rift Valley. Moi also cast a spell of siege mentality on his community.

The Kalenjin were made to believe that anybody other than Moi would annihilate them. Their property would be confiscated and they would no longer work for the government. For a community that had come to believe that they were in government on account of Moi, the threat of loss of state largesse was reason enough for unity.

The other front was the intimidation of the non-Kalenjin communities. The immigrants in the Rift Valley were forced to declare open support for Kanu or risk eviction. Voting in the Rift Valley was closely monitored by Kanu youth wingers and areas mapped out for post-election assessment.

Voters in areas considered outright anti-Kanu were prevented from voting. Areas perceived not to be very anti-Kanu but voted for opposition parties witnessed violence. Livestock was stolen and killed, houses were torched and institutions brought down. Moi won the two pioneer multiparty elections amid protests from the disunited opposition. The opposition during this period did not fare any better. They also deployed the siege mentality but without significant success. They preached propaganda to scare their support base from voting rival parties.

The main opposition parties thus only managed to ring-fence their tribal communities and thereby fragmenting the opposition vote bloc. Ford-Asili, DP and Ford-Kenya failed to dislodge Kanu. In 2002, the opposition parties united under Narc and used fear of a continued Moi successor under Kanu to romp to power. The fear of Moi was so clear that it was reduced to one stanza song “Yote Yawezekanaaaa….Bila Moi..*2”.

Soon the Mt Kenya cabal around President Mwai Kibaki scuttled the Narc dream and inadvertently caused fear among the luminaries. The fear of Mt Kenya domination would be the clarion call of the ODM manifesto. It reduced to the maxim of 40 vs 2. ODM did not wrest power from Kibaki but the stalemate plunged the nation into unprecedented bloodletting orgy that led to the Grand Coalition Government.

The 2008 post-election violence led to the involvement of the International Criminal Court in Kenya. Six individuals were identified by Moreno Ocampo as bearing greatest responsibility for the crimes against humanity. The Ocampo Six as they came to be known, were drawn from both sides of the political divide. They were considered warlords by the ICC but their ethnic communities looked up to them for political emancipation. They were political princes in their respective regions. The fear of their prosecution-turned-persecution at The Hague united their voting blocs. The first general election under the new constitution in 2013, therefore, was fought and won on the altar of mortal fear for the ICC.

UhuRuto emerged victorious in those elections because of the successful fearmongering propaganda mounted during the campaigns. Fear had once again prevailed against the perceived well thought out Cord manifesto. The UhuRuto used fear of persecution by the Raila-Kalonzo union to deliver the Tyranny of Numbers for the presidency.

This strategy almost backfired in the second attempt but brought to birth the Handshake and its resultant Building Bridges Initiative. The most recent deployment of fear as a sure tool for political mobilisation was in Kibra.

During the by-election, ODM support mobilisation was based more on the fear of Raila Odinga losing to DP William Ruto. The profiles of the respective candidates mattered less. The assault on Raila's so-called bedroom had to be dealt with frontally and decisively.

The fear of Raila losing to Ruto was more effective than the love Kibra voters have for Raila.