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Some Crucial Lessons That The Just Concluded Party Primaries Have Taught Us.

Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu and incumbent Kiambu Governor William Kabogo.Waititu (Baba Yao). Waititu garnered 353,604 votes against Kabogo’s 69,916 votes in the just concluded Jubilee Primaries.
In the aftermath of the just concluded party primaries, there are lots and lots of lessons we have learnt as Kenyans. The ensuing results were both surprising and unexpected.

Majority of the outcomes signaled a generational and ideological realignment in the Kenyan political scene. In one way or another, the end product highlighted some fundamental truths about the Kenyan voter, lessons that political leaders should heed beyond these primaries.

Even though the primaries had their own issues of electoral malpractices and at times outright rigging, the people’s general will prevailed in most of these cases.

Amongst the lessons we need to carry with us include:-

1. Wanjiku is unforgiving and never forgets.

Politicians fond of playing games with Wanjiku have to brace themselves for her ‘nyaunyo’ when her time to make decision comes. Wanjiku this time showed us that she can be very ruthless towards politicians known to cheat on her, disrespect or mishandle her.

As a politician, always mind your language. Always match your actions with your words because when the people say no, nothing can change that.

2. Never lose touch with Wanjiku.                    

The primaries also taught us that one can never afford to lose touch with Wanjiku. Wanjiku needs to ‘feel’ you even when you aint there. These primaries can be viewed as a form of protest vote, a kind of whip to punish the ‘wrong doers’.

The vote was Wanjiku’s language to declare who is boss and those who had lost touch with the electorate were humiliated and shown the door.

Candidates who were able to captivate their audience’s attention and achieve an emotional connection with the electorate carried the day.

Politicians must resonate with Wanjiku. Politicians must be there to share her triumphs and her pains. Wanjiku wants politicians who are part of their lives.

(Related story: Wanjiku’s Wrath! Thika ‘Broom’ Sweeps All MCAs Except One.)

3. It is possible.

The primaries saw so many political big shots floored by very little known aspirants despite of their political and financial muscle. 

However much these political bigwigs tried to hold ground, it was apparent that the ground couldn’t hold.

You can make it only if you try.

4. Never underestimate your opposition.

Among the renown politicians who lost in the just concluded nominations did underestimate the strengths of their opposition. Some of the newcomers were taken to be meek and very harmless by being greenhorns in the political arena.

However, having been aware of their shortcomings, the newcomers presented themselves directly to the electorate and sold their ideas one on one. They endeared themselves to Wanjiku and ended up being a darling to the electorate.

Always keep your ears on the ground and never lose focus. You may not know what hit you in the first place.

5. Know the demographics of your area.

Politicians who generalised issues during their campaigns lost ground in some areas as each region is unique in its own rights.

Candidates who scored most were those who were very conversant with the challenges and needs of their electorate. Things worked so well especially for those who used locals to spearhead the agenda in each area. By ignoring or failing to address social issues meant that they lost touch with the disgruntled locals.

At times politicians got rejected by the electorate just for the mere reason that those leading their campaigns in a particular area were considered ‘foreigners’ or were the ‘enemies’ of the locals.

In politics, there is nothing like one-size-fits-all. Every place is unique in its own right and politicians need to address these uniqueness wherever they go out to campaign. They must also adjust their content to their audience’s preferences and interests.

6. It's no longer business as usual.

Another strong message that Wanjiku relayed to politicians is that she was no longer ready to be taken for granted. The era when politicians wooed the electorate with stupid goodies is long gone. 

Wanjiku wants someone who will bring forth permanent solutions to her woes.

For the first time we have seen politicians starting to sell their candidature through manifestos. We have also witnessed them trying to outdo each other in development projects and programmes aimed at empowering Wanjiku.

This is just but a beginning of a new era where issue-based politics will start taking centre stage in campaigns. People are more or less not getting carried away by propaganda and rhetoric. They are simply demanding to know what the politicians can deliver.

It may not be time yet but Kenyan politics are on the verge of being issue-based.

7. People are yearning for real change.

For many years now, party nominations were never taken seriously by majority of Kenyans and were left to a handful of ‘idlers’ to decide on who takes the mantle to run on particular party ticket in the General Elections.

This year, things were different and very many people turned up to nominate candidates to fly their parties’ tickets. The turnout was rather so high just like in the general elections. This was a clear message that people were tired of others making important decisions on their behalf. It was a demonstration that they were tired of the status quo and were determined to correct all errors committed in previous regimes.

This became evident as results started streaming. Majority of the incumbents and those perceived to be forced into people’s throats were shown the door.

Every vote counts. Party primaries are what determine the future. By failing to participate in the nominations, you assist the wrong people to get into office. Everyone must participate in the primaries as this will be the only way to get the change you want.

(See Also: Thika Decides: Mama Tano Tena.)

8. The elite are our worst enemies.

Thousands of the elites did cast their vote. They were very busy following the proceedings online, in bars or offices as ‘analysed’ the results by either cursing the people for the outcome or praising them for ‘punishing’ those they didn’t like.

As Wanjiku spent the whole day in the scorching sun waiting for her chance to nominate their favourite candidates, the elite were busy lazing around, too proud to be seen lining up with ‘hawa ma-idlers’.

Eventually, their inaction led to one or two bad leaders sneak through the primaries thereby enhancing their chances of being elected as the next set of leaders. This was so unpatriotic of them.

Bad people are voted into office by those who don’t vote. As much as we demonise the commoners for voting in the wrong people, we are equally wrong (if not worse) for not participating in bringing in the right leaders.

9. Social Media is powerful stuff.

The primaries this year were in a very great extent influenced by the political wars staged online. Social media dictated what was actually debated offline by the general public and it is through the same platform that some of the political bigwigs lost in the primaries.

Politicians who emerged most potent online reigned supreme as their message spread so fast and was easily disseminated offline to the traditional ‘analogue’ populace.

Social media is a lethal weapon whose power cannot be underestimate. If well taken advantage of, it may be your ticket to victory.

10. Generation Y factor in elections.

Youth born in the late 80s and early 90s had a very significant impact in the just concluded party primaries.

This is a generation generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media and digital technologies. Their upbringing is marked by an increase in a liberal approach to issues including politics and economics. They are no pushovers and they will make decisions out of what they deem right for them and not what the older generation wish them to.

In a departure from past voting patterns, these millennials were so keen on candidates they resonated well with — those they perceived to understand them better regardless of what the other generations thought about their choice.

Due to this ‘civic-mindedness’, they were attracted to candidates who had a strong sense of community and those they deemed smarter and prudent. 

The millennials will continue pulling surprises in the coming elections and politicians should expect them to rebel on common trends associated with their predecessor. Anyone wanting to succeed in politics must resonate with this generation. Please note, the electorate are getting younger by day.

11. Our politics are messier than we thought.

However much the political parties try to portray the picture that their primaries were free and fair, so much underhand dealings messed the whole exercise, much of which was perpetrated from the party headquarters as well as by the candidates themselves.

There were cases of winners being denied their victory through double voting, manipulation of results and also intimidation of voters, agents and the candidates themselves. Rules governing the exercise were also breached and used selectively in favour of certain candidates.

For instance, voters believed to be supporting certain candidates were allowed to vote using their ID cards even though their names did not appear in the register of the polling station. This loophole was used by the perpetrators to vote more than once and in more than one polling station.

On the contrary, voters thought to be supporting the unfavoured candidates got turned away whenever their names failed to appear in the register. In a few cases, the clerks would deliberately deny people a chance to vote, claiming that their names were missing in the register.

(Related Story: How The ‘System’, Goons Were Used To Rob Me Of My Victory – Wainaina.)

We still have a long way to go in terms of political fairness and integrity among those mandated to execute serious exercises such as an election. Some of our leaders, even at the helm of the national leadership, preach water but take wine. We need to watch them very carefully.

12. Fake Opinion Polls

Predictive analytics is usually lauded as a crystal ball to guide people with data necessary to make certain choices. But if what we witnessed with majority of these polls, Kenyans now take each poll with a pinch of salt. They now regard predictive analytics to be a waste of time.

Some of the candidates polled to be ‘winning by a landslide’ ended up losing dismally.
Is it possible that people lie to pollsters? Or do some people fear share their loyalties with pollsters? Or is it a case of ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune?’

The same can be said of the media houses in Kenya. Majority of them act in tune with the highest bidder.

We need to rethink the laws that govern opinion polls as they seem to be abused by unscrupulous people and greedy pollsters. There is also a need to keep regulating what the media houses relay to the general public lest they end up being recipe to chaos and bloodshed.

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