So Far CORD looks better organized than Jubilee coalition on the Road to 2013 Elections
By Maurice Amutabi
After the clatter, tension and acrimony of pre-election pacts were settled the Coalition of Restoration of Democracy (CORD) appeared to emerge from the December 4, 2012 horse trading the stronger and more focused side compared to Jubilee, the next strong coalition. CORD seemed to move the nation along as everyone got interested in what was happening ni their coalition. They had creative TV adds announcing their meetings. On the other hand, Jubilee Coalition emerged from the pact-singing bruised following the fall out with one of the presidential contenders Musalia Mudavadi of UDF.
The CORD coalition appeared confident and systematic in the way it conducted its affairs. Even though not everything appeared to be above table, the way the coalition moved left everyone satisfied that there was consensus and maturity in the way its affairs were conducted. The CORD coalition seemed to have tapped into Raila Odinga’s legendary organizational genius more adeptly and now it seems that the Coalition is setting the pace and others are left to react to it. It seems like this is what we are going to see until March 4, 2013 elections. The December 4 meeting at the grounds of the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) was attended by a mammoth crowd, the largest on the grounds in recent past.
The excitement of the crowd and the fiery speeches that accompanied the euphoria at KICC grounds must have the main reason that propelled Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta of TNA and William Ruto of URP to react, by rushing to the Riverside residence of Musalia Mudavadi to get his signature on their coalition. The KICC meeting could not be compared to the Jivanjee Gardens meeting announcing the Jubilee Coalition in terms of numbers and enthusiasm. From that point onwards, it was clear who was leading and trailblazing the political landscape.
The CORD’s psychological advantage and numbers strength appeared to have reached a climax on December 22, 2012 at Uhuru Park where Raila Odinga was unveiled as the Presidential candidate for the CORD coalition with Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka as running mate for Deputy President. The crowd was so big compared to what Jubilee got at Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa on the same day. The news media was conflicted but you could see where the focus was and why? The CORD got more national coverage and received attention from more respected networks. It was even more telling when a local newspaper superimposed William Ruto’s picture on CORD’s Uhuru Park crowd by mistake. The idea was to compare match the two alliances in terms of strength, show what CORD and Jubilee got on the same day, but the two could not simply be compared.
Matters came to a head when opinion polls showed that CORD was clearly ahead of Jubilee Coalition. The hope in Jubilee was that once it became clear that Kalonzo Musyoka would be Raila Odinga’s running mate, there would be falling out by Kalenjin politicians such as ODM chairman Henry Kosgey and Roads Minister Franklin Bett and Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgey and Higher Education Minister Margaret Kamar. None of them moved to URP or any other coalition. This inaction surprised the Jubilee Coalition. What they did not realize was that Raila Odinga and CORD had moved ahead of this possibility by assuring the Kalenjin luminaries of roles and positions in the future government, confirmed by Franklin Bett when he said that he would not be seeking an elective position in 2013 elections. The same promises have obviously been made to the other Kalenjin politicians such as Musa Sirma just in case they become victims of URP euphoria in their areas.
There were three major symbolic victories by CORD on December 22, 2012 against Jubilee Alliance. First, as CORD unveiled its leaders, Jubilee leaders were fighting an integrity crisis where Uhuru Kenyatta was admitting that he had signed a secret pact with Musalia Mudavadia and which he had rescinded, blaming his actions on some ‘Dark Forces’ which no one has identified up to now. Uhuru Kenyatta and Jubilee Alliance were reacting to a lot of things and could not focus on campaigns. Many Kenyans were left wondering if Uhuru Kenyatta could be trusted by Kenyans as president if he could not keep his word to a fellow Deputy Prime Minister. We are likely to hear more on this in the coming weeks and months. It was perhaps of the blunders that may come to haunt the Jubilee coalition at a later stage.
Second, the CORD held their unveiling rally at the historic Uhuru Park, while Jubilee was sent out of town to nondescript Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa. It was evident that CORD was scoring many psychological and political points, and they received great grades on organization. The speeches were great and seemed to be focused on setting the record strating while extolling the virtues of Raila Odinga and why he should be Kenya’s CEO. For Jubilee, their rally was about why Musalia Mudavadi was not democratic because he had wanted a boardroom decision rather than face voters at the Delegates Conference at Kasarani.
Third, CORD appropriated ‘Tosha’ reference, away from Jubilee. The Tosha remark was made by Raila Odinga for candidate Mwai Kibaki in 2002 and although this time round it did not have a greater effect as it did in 2002, the historical significance could not be missed, although it would have more sense coming from Mwai Kibaki, saying ‘Raila Tosha’. We know that this is what Raila and Kalonzo have been expecting from Mwai Kibaki, but the President seemed to have not wanted to be kingmaker, and manage his own succession.
Fourth, and perhaps the most important was that Raila Odinga was clearly in-charge of the process in the CORD coalition. He was the defacto leader, coming in the middle of kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula. This was different from the Jubilee Coalition where the pecking order was not clear, where Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto seemed sometimes to pull in different directions. At one point, William Ruto addressed the people after Uhuru Kenyatta, and made significant announcements affecting the coalition. The Jubilee coalition was hostage to local interests in Central Kenya, of political elite and politicians who were keen to hang on tail strings of Uhuru Kenyatta to win the various seats for which they are contesting.
Pundits are unanimous that CORD is clearly in the lead towards the 2013 elections. The CORD coalition has great organizational ability and genius, but this is different when it comes to numbers game. There are also many advantages that lie ahead for CORD. The acrimonious fall out between Musalia Mudavadi and the Jubilee coalition should not be taken for granted, especially with anticipated run off in April 10-11 in case a clear winner does not emerge on March 4, 2013 in the first round. The side to which Musalia Mudavadi will throw his weight is likely to win, and it is for this reason that Musalia Mudavadi and UDF should be watched very carefully as swing agents.
Prof. Amutabi is a political analyst and teaches Strategic Studies at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.