In Raila Can Win The Presidency Without The Kalenjin Vote published in the Star today and posted below in its entirety, I offer reasons as to why.
It’s almost three weeks since Kenyans went to the polls and one can almost touch the sense of collective holding of the breath as we await the outcome of the petition Cord has filed challenging the results announced by IEBC that Uhuru won the presidency.
Raila and Cord maintain they have the evidence to show that the elections were rigged, IEBC, has responded with its rebuttal denying that they rigged the elections with Uhuru and Ruto, the not too innocent by-standers likely to agree with what IEBC says, whether they are enjoined in the case or not.
The merits of what each side contends aside, we can agree generally on a number of things already gleaned from the elections held on March 4, 2013.
For example, after more than five years since the dark days of post-election 2007, it is clear we have not learned lessons in the least on how to conduct dispute free elections, given the gigantic dispute that arose this time around and now headed to the Supreme Court for resolution.
When IEBC was constituted on November 9, 2011, there was a collective sigh of relief that we had a body that could finally conduct credible elections free of the ills committed by its predecessors.
To see before our unbelieving eyes the unfolding of events eerily similar to what happened in 2007 minus the violence that ensued is not only gravely disappointing, it goes to confirm we have, indeed, not learned anything from the 2007 experience that nearly plunged our country into a civil war.
How that could be would be better understood in the days, weeks and months even years to come.
For now, the Supreme Court has in its hands the fate of our country for how the court rules on the unprecedented and historic petition before it challenging the IEBC announcement that Uhuru won the presidential tally will largely determine which direction the country goes, especially in fostering democratic ideals and the rule of law under the new political dispensation.
The second thing we can generally agree on following the elections of March 4, 2013 is that, as in 2007, Kenyans went to the polls and concluded the exercise peacefully, even as they stood in lines for upwards of more than 10 hours in some locations—and by a record number.
This is a testament of not only the resilience of our people, but a sheer determination to have their voices heard thanks to the new constitutional freedoms and guarantees many have never believed would be possible in their lifetimes but is happening now.
Nothing speaks to this resilience and desire more than when we are told a 72-year old woman collapsed and died while in queue waiting to vote or in a less tragic case where another woman had to step away from the queue to have a baby.
Some have criticized and even called upon Raila to abandon his legal challenge of the presidential results and simply accept what was announced but that 72-year old who never got to cast her vote, or the woman who had to step out of the queue to have a baby would both certainly want to make sure their vote counts.
For that reason alone, such calls for the PM to abandon his case can only be characterized as selfish and not in the interest of those who take their right to vote seriously to the point they would stand in line for many hours and under very difficult circumstances, including suffering from hunger pains just so their voice can be heard—or at least they so hope.
On the other hand, it’s critical for the courts to actually determine what exactly happened and hold accountable those who may be found to have contributed to the failure of the electoral body to deliver results free of the things complained about or alleged by those challenging the results.
Put another way, Isaack Hassan and his team must in the end answer the question why would they spend billions of shillings on a system that they abandoned at the critical time for whatever reason they gave to resort to manual counting which the Kriegler Commission said was largely the reason we had the mischief done with the elections of 2007.
There are many other questions IEBC must answer but that’s for the courts and other relevant authorities to look into in the days and weeks, if not months to come.
At this point in time all the Court needs to determine is whether it’s true that there was massive rigging of the elections as Raila and Cord allege.
While the Court grapples with the monumental task on its hands, we can also glean some things from the disputed poll that may or may not be agreeable to all and these are:
To begin with, it’s abundantly clear rigging or not, tribalism is alive and well in Kenya.
There is not a single reason other than tribalism that can explain why two men charged with serious crimes against humanity can harvest as many votes as they did—again putting aside the question whether there was rigging or not, because the two mobilized their respective tribes to vote for them to the man while denying or keeping to the absolute minimum the number of votes other candidates could harvest among their tribes.
However, this is not the so-called “tyranny of numbers” much heralded by a local political pundit as the key to Uhuru’s victory but dismissed by others as propaganda designed to psychologically prepare the country for the rigging Raila and Cord now say took place and they can so prove.
Those dismissing the so-called “tyranny of numbers” as propaganda designed to prepare the country for rigging are not without an abundance of verifiable, sound and even scientific reasons:
First, the author of this ploy claimed at the time he unleashed his ‘tyranny of numbers’ that the Kikuyus and Kalenjin will vote as a bloc for Uhuru and Ruto instantly giving the duo 43% of the vote going by the total number of registered voters.
This was an outcome only possible in the figment of one’s imagination because at the time and even through the last days before the elections, virtually all reputable pollsters were unanimous in predicting a “dead heat” between Raila and Uhuru, with Raila Odinga having a slim lead.
In none of the polls did either candidate have more than 50% of the vote.
Whenever you mention polls, two things immediately come into play—and this is a universal concept and fact: when they favor your position, view or candidate, they are marvelous; when they don’t they are unreliable, paid for or otherwise belonging in the trash.
The truth is, however, it’s a fact that Kenyan pollsters have accurately predicted the results of the 2002 presidential elections; the 2005 referendum; the 2007 presidential elections; and the 2010 referendum.
As one analyst has put it, this is a track record of reliability which would be acceptable in any nation, and at any time since the advent of opinion polling.
That being the case, it became readily apparent long before the elections that the “tyranny of numbers” was really nothing but a clever invention of its author in cohorts with others with perhaps the purpose of psychologically preparing the country for rigging as many alleged because there is no way one could reconcile those ‘tyranny of numbers’ with the conventional polling data showing a close race between Raila and Uhuru.
This is a fact that is actually conclusively established in the results from the actual poll of March 4th—again, putting aside the question of rigging.
As the pollster Dr. Tom Wolfe of Ipsos Synovate put it, if one were to give Uhuru all the undecided vote going into the elections (about 2%) and add to that the numbers for 3 marginal candidates, the best Uhuru could have had on election day would have been 49.5%, yet the results IEBC announced show Uhuru at 50.7%, begging the question where did those numbers come from, given it’s inconceivable all the undecided voters voted for Uhuru while and the 3 marginal candidates did not drop out?
It is also significant as Dr. Wolfe noted that if Ipsos Synovate results are compared with what IEBC results, every single result for the eight presidential candidates was within a margin of 1.26 per cent except for Uhuru.
According to Dr. Wolfe, this was not a ‘tyranny of numbers” as earlier propagated by its originators but a ‘tyranny of turnout’ because as it turns out—again, putting aside the question of whether there was rigging, Uhuru did better in turn-out than did Raila, especially in their respective strongholds.
It’s, of course, unknown at this time what percentage of that turn-out was real and what was due to inflated or cooked up numbers as Raila and Cord contend, if any, but that’s obviously the issue before the Court to determine.
That notwithstanding, there does rise an interesting question and that is, now that it’s clear the Kalenjin were voting almost to the man—the caution again about putting aside rigging, for Uhuru and Ruto, can Raila win the presidency without the Kalenjin vote if there is a run-off or re-run?
The short answer is yes, he can.
This is because as the pollster Wolfe noted, Raila had more registered voters in his 20 strong counties than Uhuru did it turns out what made the difference minus the question of rigging, was voter turn-out; voters in Raila’s strongholds did not turn out as did those in Uhuru’s.
Were Raila to have voters in his strongholds turn out in near the proportions Uhuru’s did then it would be the battle of the titans and Raila will win simply because Uhuru has limited areas he can whip up the frenzy compared to Raila whose support spans across the country.
In that scenario, the Kalenjin vote becomes less significant for Raila but obviously the only life-line for Uhuru.
That notwithstanding, it still remains the case that Raila and Cord have not made a convincing case in Kaleland that they are the coalition that will seriously address the needs of the community, including historic injustices related to land, not Uhuru Kenyatta.
Were Raila and Cord to make that case persuasively, we could see a landslide election this time around.
This is particularly possible given the less ominous the ICC is becoming as to all remaining suspects, especially Ruto whose case one of the witnesses just withdrew and recanted his testimony.
The ICC being less and less a factor, the second round elections, may turn out to be the good old fashioned battle of the giants and their allies along tribal lines and the one who whips their side the most gets to get the prize and no rigging is even necessary to accomplish that.
Many if not most of us had hoped we have or could go beyond this, namely, tribalism politics in 2013 but looks like we may have to wait another time, hopefully not beyond the next election circle to rid us of this vice that promises nothing but status quo and stagnation in all that matter in bringing the country together with the concomitant progress presently lacking because of this very vice of tribalism.