The number game for CORD and Jubilee in 2013 Presidential Elections is tricky
By Maurice Amutabi
On paper, the Jubilee Coalition of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto may have appeared to have superior standing in terms of numbers compared to Raila Odinga’s CORD coalition, but this is not entirely true. The assumption would have been to take the votes in Central Kenya of about 3.8 million and those in North Rift of about 2.2 and put them in Jubilee corner at 5 million before other areas are included. From about 14 million registered voters and knowing that only about 70% vote in general elections, they would have emerged as strong contenders.
Unfortunately for Jubilee, there is a large number of Kalenjins who will not vote for the ticket simply because it is Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kikuyu who is at the top of the ticket. The reasons are historical and partly because of the tensions that remained in the minds of many following the 2007post election violence, most of which have not fully healed. The other reason Kalenjins would not be enthusiastic about the Jubilee ticket is the manner in which the Kalenjins were treated under the Mwai Kibaki Presidency, when they suffered further marginalization. It appears like some of them may not be about to hand another Kikuyu the presidential ticket.
The 2.2 million in North Rift will be fought for by Jubilee, UDF and other parties, and although CORD will get the Lion’s share, it will not be in the region of 1 million largely to some suspicion and many voters who are unsure if William Ruto will be treated the way Musalia Mudavadi was after elections. Many vote rich areas such as Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho, Nakuru and Trans Nzioia were victims of ethnic clashes and have seen their areas receive less attention in terms of development compared to other parts of the country. These places predominantly occupied by Kalenjns have resisted resettlement of IDPs in their areas and see the Uhuru-Ruto coalition as one that is likely to push for this idea if they form the next government. The problem is that it has not been easy to sell Uhuru Kenyatta’s candidacy. Other vote hunters such as CORD and UDF are likely to be beneficiaries of this lack of interest in Jubilee.
Mwai Kibaki received about 5 million votes to clinch the presidency in 2007. Uhuru Kenyatta will not inherit votes from all the areas that voted for Mwai Kibaki in 2007. Political analysts know Mwai Kibaki won the presidency in 2002 due to the support he received from members of the ‘summit’ and without which the Kikuyu votes elections had failed to make him president on two occasions in 1992 and 1997. Jubilee will not get the almost 1 million votes in Meru as easily as Kibaki did, for reasons that are best known voters. The larger Meru save for Gitobu Imanyara’s support may have shifted to Kiraitu Murungi’s APK and the ‘Mbus’ as well as many parts of Embu and vast areas of Upper Eastern. Kiraitu Murungi will therefore be courted by many coalitions in the days ahead because of the 1 million votes in Meru. Mwai Kibaki also enjoyed tremendous amount of support in Kisii, which Jubilee Alliance may also not receive. Jubilee coalition has also lost the entire western Kenya votes to supporters of Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula and Eugene Wamalwa.
Raila Odinga will not receive support in the same areas that ODM carried overwhelmingly in 2007. Only one bloc of his 2007 voters is still intact and under ODM grip, Luo Nyanza. Luo Nyanza can at most produce about 2 million of votes same as Western and cannot propel Raila to the presidency even if they voted 90%, which is unusual in any election. The rest of the areas that ODM carried in 2007 have scattered into different directions. The Kalenjin vote which pushed Raila at the virtue of becoming Kenya’s fourth president has vanished significantly thanks to the activities of William Ruto of URP. Although CORD has retained some Kalenjin luminaries such as Henry Kosgei, Franklin Bett, Sally Kosgey, Margaret Kamar and Musa Sirma, CORD is not likely to receive more than 1 million in South Rift that covers some Maasai areas where CORD enjoys support. The loss of some 1 million votes in this region to Jubilee is a strategic blunder by CORD. The strategic thinking for many was that if Raila Odinga and CORD had hoped to retain Kalenjin in South Rift in CORD, they should have appointed Henry Kosgei, Franklin Bett or Sally Kosgey as running mate as deputy president. Since Stephen Kalonzo came from out and was handed the ticket of Deputy President, the Kalenjn enthusiasm for CORD has diminished, which gives Musalia Mudavadi a chance to be the recipient of protest votes in Kalenjin land.
The support for Raila Odinga in Western Kenya is not as euphoric as it was in 2007. The 3 million votes are likely to be split, with some – about 2 million in Kakamega and Vihiga going to UDF under Musalia Mudavadi and about 0.5 in Busia going to CORD and about 0.5 million in Bungoma going to Ford Kenya under CORD. Many reasons have contributed to this decline in support for CORD. First, many Luhya supporters expected Raila to name a Luhya as his running mate, even after Musalia Mudavadi bolted. This has contributed to a lot of desertion by voters many of whom may actually not vote. Although many areas of Western Kenya voted for ODM in 2007, the scenario has changed and CORD’s vote hunting is likely to be scuttled by UDF activities under Musalia Mudavadi who appears determined to put those votes under his wrap to increase his bargaining power in the post election period when his party is likely to determine who forms the next government.
There are some areas where ODM received support and which appear not to have changed significantly such as Nairobi and Coast. Nairobi has almost 2 million votes, most of which will be for CORD, at slightly over 1 million. Jubilee and other parties will split the remaining 1 million. What is likely to happen is that Nairobi will change from being in the corner of CORD to a swing vote. When Raila contested in Langata, he created a huge base, which will not be the case now that he will not be required to be an MP.
Muslim votes are likely to be swing votes in the next elections. For all the coalitions, there is no clear front runner for the Muslim votes even if Jubilee may a slight advantage because of the personalities that it has received so far. Although Raila has lost some ground in his support from the Muslim base, he has retained a foothold in some of the areas in Coast and North Eastern due the personalities in this corner as well. The positions that the various coalitions have taken on the issue of Mombasa Republican Council and how they have handled Muslim issues will count this time round, at a time when many Muslim leaders feel the Mwai Kibaki government has tightened the noose on them through various measures and laws that seemed to target Muslims.
With Raila Odinga as the flag bearer for CORD and Uhuru Kenyatta as flag bearer for Jubilee, the battle is going to be intense. The numbers and mood of the nation seem to favour CORD. The nation wants reforms, honest and credible leadership. The Jubilee coalition has to deal with the dilemma of ICC as well as the anti-reform tag which it seems to have attracted given that William Ruto campaigned against a new constitution. Save for something drastic, it can now be stated unequivocally that Raila Odinga is likely to be the fourth President of Kenya. The Jubilee Coalition had a fighting chance, but the perceived anti-Kikuyu feeling after a combined 25 years at the helm has made many people to see any other non Kikuyu as a viable alternative. If Musalia Mudavadi was the flag beater for Jubilee the results would have been different. The battle would have been much closer.
Prof. Amutabi teaches Political Science at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.