Uhuru, Jubilee crunch numbers ahead of 2017 polls
Way before official campaigns for next year’s General Elections kick off, President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Jubilee team have already hit the road, with strategic attention to four regions that overwhelmingly voted for CORD leader Raila Odinga in the 2013 race to State House.
In under two weeks, the President and his deputy have hosted a delegation of Kamba professionals and political leaders at State House, Nairobi ostensibly to discuss development matters. But political undertones dominated the meeting, that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka likened to the old KANU tactics of paying homage to the President, in exchange for political and development favours. The larger Ukambani region has 1.2 million registered voters as at March this year, and it is a slice of this vote block that the Jubilee coalition is eyeing in next year’s polls.
Kenyatta and Ruto have also made forays in Kisii and Nyamira counties, with a bag of development goodies and promises, all aimed at warming the hearts of a region that in 2013 voted for Odinga. The Jubilee team keen on improving the 28% average vote it garnered in the larger Kisii region in next year’s polls. The national roll of voters indicates that the larger Kisii region has close to 700,000 registered voters.
The President and his deputy have also been dangling goodies in Western Kenya and have pumped an extra Ksh 1B to Mumias Sugar Company and bringing on board a strategic investor to revive Pan Paper Mills, in Webuye, the one-time industrial icon and economic mainstay of the region.
The region gave Kenyatta less than 10% of the votes in 2013, save for Trans Nzoia County that though administratively is in Rift Valley politically plays in Western Kenya. The Western bloc has a voter population of close to 1.9 million as at March this year, a chunk of which Kenyatta and Ruto are eyeing.
The Coast region is also on Jubilee’s radar, predominantly an opposition stronghold, Jubilee, through the help of CORD rebel MPs have been trying to make inroads and boost their 23% showing in the 2013 polls. The five counties have close to 1.1 million registered voters.
Jubilee insiders and strategists say the duo are also keen on consolidating their traditional political strongholds of Rift Valley and Mt. Kenya regions, and claw between 20-30% of the CORD support base in Coast, Kisii, Western and Coast regions. The constitutional requirement for a winning presidential candidate to garner more than 50% of the votes cast informing their forays in cord strongholds. In 2013, the Uhuru-Ruto team surpassed the constitutional threshold by 8,000 votes, though CORD contested the outcome at the Supreme Court.
But CORD has also been trying to make inroads in perceived Jubilee strongholds. Opposition chief Raila Odinga has been trying to recover the lost ground in the populous South Rift region, while at the same time reaching out to the larger Meru region that relies on Miraa farming as its economic mainstay.
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