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East Africa Politics this week……

The battle for Mt Kenya Votes and other stories.....

Kenya – The unholy alliance

We have eleven months until Kenya’s General elections, but given the height of politics in the country, one would think the polls are tomorrow. As the hour cometh, we will be treated to theatrics as  politicians rush for gold (votes). We are likely to see coalitions of convenience emerge, as noted with the grand coalition bringing the orange democratic party members together with Hon Raila Odinga as the flag bearer (if others concede). 

And as coalitions go, do keep an eye on the 3rd and most sensible coalition of former UNCTAD boss Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi with Makueni Governor Kibutha Kibwana ( known for his stellar management of Makueni county), former Justice Minister under Kibaki’s administration and Narc Flag bearer Hon. Martha Karua. This coalition has notable Mount Kenya leaders, Hon Ndiritu Muriithi ( Governor Laikipia County), CS Peter Munya Minister Agriculture and Livestock and Hon Justin Muturi (Speaker National Assembly).

Politics & Pulpit

With public rallies restricted, funerals and churches have become the new battlefield for politicians. Hefty cash donations to churches and the clergy secures the best pew in church or a speaking slot at a funeral. This unfortunate trend shows money, ethnicity and religion are still important in Kenya’s politics. The last time the church meddled in Kenya’s politics did not end well, remember 2007/2008 elections which were followed by the worst post election clashes resulting in over a million displaced and 1300 and more killed. Many Kenyans will never forget the deaths of innocent children and women who sought refuge in Kiambaa church  (Eldoret) only to be burned alive as locals watched. The church was so compromised having been in bed with politicians and could not intervene.  The catholic and Anglican church leaders have warned politicians to keep off the pulpits but the popular evangelical church which has a large following in Kenya has welcomed the politicians with open arms, they are raking in cash promising politicians blessings and prayers for ‘God loves a cheerful and generous giver’. The Deputy President has the 1st seat in these churches based on his donations’ records.

The battle for Mr Kenya Votes

With 6 million votes, Mt Kenya is a key region in determining the next President for Kenya. The gloves are off and despite intervention by the State House to unite the region and consolidate the votes, politicians allied to the Deputy President are not holding back. The fallout by the president and his number 2 ( whatever happened to these two?) only yesterday they were dressed in  coordinated suits and ties, holding hands to meetings)  seems to work in favour of the deputy for now. The hustler movement with its  bottom up economic policy and what has become famously known as the ‘wheelbarromics’ seems to be attracting sympathy votes from Mt Kenya and elsewhere. If he can secure the 6 million votes here  (impossible), however a split Mt Kenya vote is good enough for the Deputy. This and the Rift Valley bloc vote is an indication that a likelihood of a Ruto presidency is more likely.

What are his policies going to look like? Will he be able to address the issues of graft ? The deputy President is famously known for his role in the Y2K92, a youth wing of the Kanu Party under the late President Moi, who is his political father, one would guess that his politics/policies are to be influenced by Moi’s. I could be wrong but if this be the case, as one prominent politician told me, ‘Kenyans will be lining up in Kakuma camp’.

Will Ruto, Uhuru and even Raila ever reconcile? When maybe hard to predict but certainly yes. Both Uhuru and Raila believe or not are more focused on legacies and the unity of the nation and if working with Ruto brings that, then they will. Didn’t the two (Uhuru and Ruto ) come together in 2013 ( united by the ICC case) ?. In politics there are no permanent friends.Uganda
The region and the entire international community has moved on, forgetting Uganda’s elections which were marred with allegations of rigging and voter intimidation and Yoweri is back courting the west particularly as he knows very well where his bread is buttered. His move to give 2000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban a home in Uganda augers well with both the European Union and America. He is also busy playing the regional kingmaker ( recently hosted Kenya’s deputy on a private visit), he also has been called to support IGAD as they struggle to make sense in the South Sudan crisis. Given the weak opposition, Museveni is stronger politically today than he ever was. After losing the support of the Catholic conservatives and the Kingdom of Buganda (Central Uganda). Museveni’s new found territory is the Northern and Eastern Parts of the country. The appointment of Jacob Oulanyah as the speaker of the National Parliament ( Northerner) and Deputy President Jessica Alupo (From the Eastern region) further confirms efforts by M7 to cement the support of these regions. For businesses, opportunities in the Agriculture, manufacturing and services sector await, these are some of the fastest growing regions and  after years of war, the locals are tired and are ready to ‘live’.  The outlook for the  business environment is positive despite a decline in the PMI (last 3 months) which is partly due to lockdown prompting businesses to scale back on employment and purchasing activity.One drawback however, is the rising insecurity, kidnappings, murders have been on the rise. Areas most affected are Masaka ( area between Mbarara and Kampala). Worth noting this is Baganda territory that voted overwhelmingly for the opposition. 


And the Nobel peace Prize recipients call citizens to arms against the TPLF.
The Ethiopian crisis is escalating and diplomats and expats in Addis Ababa and beyond are beginning to feel the effect of this war; water shortages, internet outages and poor access to healthcare as hospitals are full to capacity, increasing numbers of civilians – death, sexual violence, illegal detentions, documented hunger and the outflow of refugees to neighbouring Sudan and Djibouti cannot be ignored. Prompted by the alliance between the Tigray forces and the Oromo Liberation forces, who vowed to work together against Ethiopia’s military, PM Abiy held a national address to ask all Ethiopians who were able to join in the war to protect their nation.  Ethiopians in the Diaspora allied to the administration have been fundraising towards the grand renaissance dam. 
Response from the business community in Addis Ababa has been muted. Citing intolerable environment, South African telecom MTN confirmed it would not participate in the second round of Ethiopia Telecom Licence. The situation in the capital remains stable for now but if the Tigray crisis continues, businesses will struggle to operate.
Writing an open letter to the PM Abiy and TPLF, 50 African intellectuals from Africa and the diaspora are demanding an end to the war.  Familiar and notable Kenyans in this African list include Kenya’s economist David Ndee, Maina Kiai ( former 

  1. Maina Kiai, Former Chair, Kenya National Human Rights Commission, Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
  2. Willy Mutunga, Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Kenya 3. Makau Mutua, SUNY Distinguished Professor, SUNY Buffalo Law School

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