In the mid-1980s Allan Millett and Williamson Murray concluded an essay on the ‘Lessons of War’ with the line, ‘Mistakes in operations and tactics can be corrected, but political and strategic mistakes live forever.’
Its most frequently quoted encapsulation, however, is undoubtedly that attributed to Sun Tzu who said something to the effect that “strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory; tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.
Jubilee Party must not find itself on the other side of victory; it must quickly learn how to win, and how to ride on the triumphs to totally dominate.
Last month’s by-elections in Bonchari and Juja constituencies as well as in Rurii ward saw the ruling party suffer defeats in all three mini polls, two of the upsets happening in areas considered to be its strongholds.
Police intimidation and the apparent arrogance exhibited by Jubilee leaders played a big role in the Bonchari loss, with the vote outcome widely seen as a protest against events before and during polling.
Politicians in the party have also attributed the losses to a number of other factors, including the fielding of weak candidates, succession politics in Central Kenya and disharmony among party members.
While Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju has taken full responsibility for the loss, owned up to the mismanagement of the polls and promised a winning strategy going forward, there is definitely a lot to be done if winning in Kiambaa is his topmost priority right now.
In a party, politicians are in coalition with interest groups and activists, and movements that can deliver votes are the ones that tend to have authority over the party agenda.
On the other hand, there are reasons to doubt. Political scientists argue that the Jubilee Party has been “hollowed out,” weakening ties between its rank-and-file and the leadership of the party.
For all intents and purposes, the party must raise party discipline among its members so that they do not lose focus of the goal; it must also try to build durable grassroots organizations that help develop tomorrow’s leaders and get out the vote in good and bad times.
There is a saying in the military that “perception is reality”. Other leaders will view your team and base your success on how ‘squared away’ your team appears.
Spring of hope
They don’t see the improvements or the inner workings and time that you have put into your team. Sometimes you just have to report how well your team has improved using statistics.
New strategies, tactics are needed to revamp the party and catapult it into the spring of hope.
Various leaders allied to the party have raised a concern of dwindling fortunes of the party and are calling for energized reforms to keep the party afloat.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru is among leaders who have brought to the fore the turmoil within Jubilee. She has called for efforts to revamp the party and introduce a new strategy ahead of the 2022 General Election. She said this week that Jubilee had lost its glory and needed to find ways to regain its political grip.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has already signaled that he could cut links with the party. The county boss is of the view that Jubilee Party was founded on the vision of a united nation but the dream collapsed along the way.
In Kiambaa, there are signs that Jubilee will suffer a defeat unless it changes its campaign strategy.
United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party - associated with Deputy President William Ruto - has put its best foot forward and is leaving nothing to chance as it tactfully targets women and the youth.
Jubilee Party has the best candidate for the seat and being the ruling party, must make use of resources at its disposal to clinch the seat and reassure its skeptical support base that it still packs a punch. The party must be felt on the grassroots. It must find the connection and utilize it.
The main campaigners for UDA in the central region are Murang’a Senator Irungu Kanga'ta and MPs Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Faith Gitau and Rahab Mukami.
Their key strategy, which somehow seems to be working, is to discredit the Jubilee government of which they are still members.
For instance, in Rurii Ward, as the Jubilee team used state might and launched a number of development projects in the ward through Governor Francis Kimemia and Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki to market their candidate Peter Thinji, the crafty UDA team reminded the locals that the ruling party was intolerant and out of touch.
Grassroots is all about connecting with the people and articulating the diverse communal problems you plan to solve if the people rally behind you.
The importance of local organising, hoping to create “grassroots juggernaut” cannot be reemphasized enough. Jubilee Party should focus on empowering the grassroots, making sure they have the tools, the data and the communication that they need. This guarantees to bring more people out to vote.
This will be the winning strategy for Jubilee Party. It is the best bet to survive the high mortality rate of Kenyan political parties.