I've been following with kicks and starts how President Kibaki is campaigning around the country. I've been curious since the man had ensconced himself at State House, surrounded by bumbling handlers falling over themselves in trying to keep him immobile. Now the man Is all over the place trying to sell himself for a second term.
There are three main reasons why I think his strategy is aimed at losing the election. I will not argue from the perspective that his main challenger, Raila Odinga, is indefatigable, has a track record and knows how to work up the crowds. That is undeniable. I will argue from inside Kibaki's campaign strategy.
My first argument is related to Kibaki's hands-off style that has characterised his first term. Kibaki has never campaigned as such, and since he has nothing to lose in the second term, why should voters trust him? In 2002, he had the presidency to gain. Now he has the presidency to lose, so why should you trust him to keep his word on anything? What means do you have to put him in check?
At the beginning of his term, he was applauded for keeping to himself at State House. He was commended for giving his ministers a free hand, unlike Moi, to run the show. I do not remember seeing the presidential standard, changed from green to white, flying at harambee House at any time in the past five years. During Moi's time, it was there almost daily, and as early as 6.30am.
What has that got to do with campaigns? A lot, it you ask me. Voters know that Kibaki has been laid back all this time, so for him to get out campaigning, things must be very desperate. He should have done the same in 2002 but was cut short by his accident at Machakos, prompting his being taken to London for treatment as election day approached. So despite succeeding, Kibaki never really went out to campaign. Neither did he subject himself to media scrutiny like his colleagues in the race.
The second argument on why Kibaki is losing has to do with development. We are being told Kibaki has "brought development" through things like CDF, LATF, bursaries and the like. What hogwash!
Kenya's colonial masters brought a lot of development too, but to whose benefit? As it is, almost all the CDF committees have cases in court as MPs manipulate them.
Simple, development alone cannot sell, for even Moi had some development initiatives countrywide. Indeed, some of the projects Kibaki is claiming to have revived, roads for example, were started by Moi. As a matter of fact, Moi used to drive to Nakuru from Nairobi regularly. I do not seem to remember when Kibaki ever drove on that non-existent road.
The third and not last reason why Kibaki is losing has to do with the party he is running on, Panu or PNU. This is a conglomeration of 14 parties, just like Narc before it. That figure does not include Kalembe Ndile's Independent Party launched yesterday. Two ministers sounded the alarm bells last weekend, saying it would be suicidal for Kibaki to be the only PNU MP next year. Sound reasoning, but full with danger.
Some of the main Kibaki backers, Narc-Kenya, DP and Kanu, have said bluntly that they will not dissolve. In fact, DP yesterday unveiled a candidate in Kajiado North, much to Saitoti's chagrin. Kanu is in a most interesting position. Remember that Uhuru Kenyatta left ODM after realising that it wanted to swallow Kanu. He decamped to Kibaki, only to be confronted by the same fate!
Now worst of all, Kibaki is promising the party leaders the kind of things he promised LDP in 2002 in the memorandum of understanding he famously dishonoured. Why should any party take him seriously?
Kibaki is losing emphatically. Unfortunately, there's not a thing in this world he can do to turn things around. Just where would he begin?