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How Dirty Politics Is Poisoning Thika, Kiambu Political Environment.

It is no longer a secret that the political heat has caught up with our politicians especially now that party primaries are on and about in the next one week. Politicians are now running helter-skelter trying to solicit votes and at least salvage those that they are about to lose.

With this, Kiambu County has brought into our airspace, a lot of dirty politics and mudslinging. They have started creating misleading, distorted or false impressions against their competitors. They intentionally make sure that they omit facts and/or selectively emphasis or exaggerate others to sell their position or viewpoint to the electorate over that of their opponents.

I must admit that this campaign is one of the dirtiest ever in Thika and Kiambu politics. Politicians are now squaring off through negative campaigning. What happened to intellectual honesty in politics, I don’t know.

The following are some of examples of dirty campaign gimmicks being fed to the residents of Kiambu and Thika;-

Gakuyo and Ekeza Exposé in the media.

We have seen running advertisements aimed at attacking their opponents’ personality, record, or opinion and trying to show the electorate the ‘risks’ associated with their opponents and exploiting people’s fears to manipulate and lower the impression voters have of the opponent.  This generally involve secretly leaking ‘damaging information’ to the media with intent to isolate (a) particular candidate(s) from the masses. They prepare very substantive material enough to attract media interest that if the victim doesn’t counter it properly and in good time, it could severely damage their campaign.

Recently, we show what was branded as an exposé of a big scam by Rev. David Kariuki Ngare (Gakuyo) in the media. What transpired from the episode ran short of the expectations of Kenyans and one could read some political mechanisation behind the scenes.

It later emerged from clips later in the media, that the said ‘victims’ were either duped into maligning Gakuyo Real Estate and Ekeza Sacco or were paid into doing so. It simply showed intent to malign Gakuyo’s character and create some doubts within the electorate of having him at the helm of Kiambu politics.

This programme was preceded by an online bust-up with popular Kikuyu presenter Njogu Wa Njoroge. His inclusion in Governor William Kabogo’s re-election launch programme at Thika Stadium on Saturday spoke volumes. Gakuyo is in the team that is fighting to oust Kabogo from office.

Kabogo calling Uhuru a thief and a fool (fala).

Dirty tricks are also being employed in negative political campaigns and feeding the electorate with false information hoping that they will use it to win support.

Those on social media saw a clip that was going around showing Governor Kabogo calling President Uhuru Kenyatta a fool and a thief. It also depicted Kabogo as a supporter of ODM leader Raila Odinga. By doing so, the architect of this clip wanted to ignite the anger of the people of Kiambu against Kabogo since this is President Uhuru’s backyard.

The truth of the matter is that the original clip was edited to completely distort the message that Kabogo was trying to drive home.

Claims of ‘ghosts’ attack after receiving food aid from Wainaina Wa Jungle.

Late last week, an woman from Kiganjo Estate in Thika was heard on radio claiming that she was under attack of ghosts that were emanating from what she said was the maize floor and calendar she had received from Eng. Patrick Wainaina (Wa Jungle) who is vying for the Thika Town Parliamentary seat.

A day later, she recanted these claims and said that some aides to a certain politician vying for the same seat had paid her sh. 5,000 to lay these claims with an intent to scare away other residents from associating themselves with Wainaina and in essence, jeopardise his chances of being elected.

Fake Social Media accounts.                     

Currently, the Kenyan social media platforms has been jammed with so many fake accounts purporting to be those of politicians. In the said accounts, the ‘politicians’ upload very weird posts that are meant to discredit the character of the politicians being targeted. They are also posting images to the effect that they have resigned from the race or supported their opponents.

Earlier this year, there was a screenshot going round social media from a fake WhatsApp account that purported to be that of Aspirant Morris Mburu. In the screenshots, ‘Mburu’ was seen conversing with a certain lady and soliciting for sex in return for monetary payments that ran into millions.

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The content of the conversation had all the indicators of a fake account for even the hotel they were supposed to meet was rather not private and not of the stature of this candidate. The posts were simply meant to tarnish Mburu’s image by painting him an irresponsible person and immoral.

Use of bloggers as ‘guns for hire’.

Some of these politicians are currently using lobby groups, pollsters and bloggers to launch their evil attacks on against their competitors. By doing so, the information leaked is purported to be coming from neutral sources. This by itself, protects the attacking candidate from any damage in case these allegations turn out not to be true.

Some wealthy Kiambu are have turned to bloggers to champion negative campaigning. Majority of these bloggers do not reside within Kiambu and barely know anything about this county or its politics. They are simply ‘guns for hire’ who you will find posting about virtually every other politician in the country, especially those known to be very well endowed financially.

All what these politicians do is to feed the bloggers with offensive content to discredit their opponents and BOOOF!! the whole platform is jammed with irresponsible posts and insults.

Damaging graffiti, foul language and violent intimidation.

Offline, written material and graphic photos are being scattered within residential areas with intent to discredit particular candidates. 

On public dais candidates are making malicious verbal attacks against their political opponents, simply to harm and place their opponent's campaign machinery in disarray and eventually convince the electorate to see the perpetrators as the bright stars and vote them into office.

They have also recruited hecklers and hooligans to intimidate opponents and scare away people thought to be ‘unfriendly’ to their candidates.

It is good to note that mudslinging degenerates into negative campaigning with a tendency to breeding violence in some cases.

Opportunistic and incompetent politicians will disregard the dignity, rights and freedoms of persons. They will involve the secret subversion of an opponent’s campaign via outright lies, spying or any other tactic that is intended to divert attention from policies in an underhanded or unethical way thus erode the public’s confidence in the political system, and at worst cost lives.

Disenchanted electorate.

Thika (and Kiambu) electorate are thoroughly disenchanted with our political campaigns, especially with campaign advertising and speeches. They have been bombarded with visceral appeals that bypass substance by these rogue candidates who tell us nothing about what they will do if elected but flood the air with bad, crooked, dishonest and corrupt brand of politics.

Unfortunately, the public doesn’t seem to like the truth and those who flirt with telling it don’t stand a chance. So, politicians are having a very easy time feeding the populace with this dirty rhetoric. We are also tied to the problem of ego, ‘Me Myself and I’ whereby, we think of only those who will directly benefit you rather than those who will work for the common good of the masses.

Political mudslinging might just end up being the determinant factor in these elections.

Is there any hope for redemption?

While the effect of negative campaigning motivates the base of support, it can alienate centrist and undecided voters from the political process, thereby reducing voter turnout and radicalising politics. 

The consequences of negative campaigning are greater image discrimination of the candidates and greater attitude polarisation. 

Have you ever imagined what will happen if we left our politics totally in the hands of rotten people?

Politics need people with credibility because it is only by their presence in the political arena politics will bring good values and practices. In our own small ways, we must promote the good politicians and work to have them elected into office. We must ensure that we push into office, politicians who are known for their honesty, ability and concern for the welfare of all.

What we should be seeking are leaders who see themselves as servants and not masters of the people. We should make politicians accountable to us the electorate and always make them to work for the common good.

Think twice before you cast that vote.

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