Azimio, Kenya Kwanza change campaign strategies after unveiling running mates

ational Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi (right) and ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi (right) and ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi campaign in Karatina, Nyeri.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Kenya Kwanza and Azimio coalitions have made changes to their campaign teams ahead of the August elections. Kenya Kwanza has split their campaign team into three groups for easy movement as the coalition running mate Rigathi Gachagua also embarks on a charm offensive to woo Mt Kenya MPs, some of who voted against his nomination as running mate.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition that is supporting Raila Odinga for presidency has crafted at least 16 regional campaign teams to take the battle for vote-hunting in every corner of the country for a win. Mr Odinga is expected to unveil the team tomorrow before they can hit the campaign trail.

“The teams were finalised last night (Friday). They are being invited to meet the candidate (Mr Odinga) on Monday before the structure is made public,” said a source.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya will be in-charge of western where he will be deputised by his Kisii counterpart James Ongwae. ODM chairman John Mbadi has been picked to help with logistics and coordination in the region that covers the former Nyanza and western provinces.

Mr Odinga's campaign spokesperson, Prof Makau Mutua, said the list has predictable faces since they have been involved in the ongoing campaign trails.

“It is not like the list has some big mystery that we want to hold on to. It has just the same people we have been saying will be there,” said Prof Mutua.

“Our strategy is to deploy multiple teams at the same time in different parts of the country so that we are not sleeping at any given moment or waiting for Mr Odinga to lead us so that we flock there. Different groups will be assigned to different areas,” he added.

He said, in Mt Kenya, Narc-K leader Martha Karua, Murang’a Woman rep Sabina Chege, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Agriculture CS Peter Munya will be in-charge.

Governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui) will take charge of Lower Eastern while Mombasa Governor Ali Joho and businessman Suleiman Shabal will coordinate campaigns at the Coast.

Nairobi campaigns will be led by Kamkunji MP Yusuf Hassan and his Makadara MP George Aladwa as co-chairs and assisted by governor aspirant Polycarp Igathe, Edwin Sifuna (Senate), Woman rep Esther Passaris and Westlands MP Timothy Wanyonyi.

On the other hand, the Kenya Kwanza team, which brings together presidential candidate William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) and Ford Kenya of Moses Wetang’ula, has come up with three national teams as well as seven regional ones

According to Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, a senior member of DP Ruto’s camp, there are now three national campaign teams of which one will be headed by DP Ruto, the second will be under the stewardship of the alliance’s running mate Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and ANC leader Mudavadi will be in-charge of the third one.

Members of these three groups will be alternated depending on the region where they are visiting but the sole purpose is to drum up support for DP Ruto’s State House bid.

“We are going on with our campaigns. Gachagua and Wetang’ula are leading one team, there is another one for Mudavadi and Ruto is leading another team. We will be visiting every part of this country as we hunt for votes as we sell the agenda of a bottom-up economic model unlike our opponents who want to change the constitution but we want to better the lives of our people,” said Senator Murkomen in Uasin Gishu County. Leaving nothing to chance, the three teams are said to have powers to visit every region of the country unlike the regional ones.

The team is tasked with spearheading campaigns across Coast, South Eastern, Mt Kenya East, Central Kenya, Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western, North Eastern, and Upper Eastern.

The DP said the teams will coordinate Kenya Kwanza Alliance’s campaign programmes, and the modalities of how multiple candidates will be engaged in the campaign to avoid unhealthy competition and ensure victory in the first round.

Meanwhile, Mr Gachagua has kicked off a series of closed-door meetings to consolidate the support of aspirants under the formation. He is said to be reaching out to politicians under the alliance – who were against his pick by Ruto– to offer him support in the campaigns.

The Mathira MP has since held a meeting with aspirants from his home county of Nyeri. He held the meeting a day after a host of UDA MPs accompanied the DP for the funeral of his elder brother, where a majority of the lawmaker declared their unwavering support for him.

Yesterday, DP Ruto took his campaigns to Karatina Town in Nyeri alongside Mr Rigathi and a host of other leaders in a larger scheme to prop his running mate’s profile.

Mr Rigathi is said to be pushing to project himself as the spokesperson of the region after he was picked as the running mate.

During the long and tense hours before his unveiling, only three MPs are said to have backed Mr Gachagua — one from Nairobi and two from Nakuru County.

Tharaka-Nithi Senator was preferred by a majority of the lawmakers. Prof Kindiki is said to have received the backing of at least 43 MPs out of the 46 that participated in the straw poll.

Opinion polls by the outfit had also placed Prof Kindiki ahead, followed by Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru with Mr Gachagua coming third. Prof Kindiki has since declared his support for him.

Yesterday, a lawmaker from the Mt Kenya region said there were ongoing process to align the rank and file of UDA behind Rigathi. “Those are ongoing internal processes that I may not want to discuss in the media,” said the MP who did not want to be quoted.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany told the Sunday Nation that the alliance was getting into the campaigns as a united force.

“There are no issues amongst our team members and everybody is behind the ticket of DP Ruto and Gachagua,” said Mr Kositany.

“The team is happy and we are proceeding with our plans to win this election. In Kenya Kwanza, it is never about an individual,” he added. Chinga Ward MCA Kiruga Thuku confirmed that a majority of Nyeri aspirants attended the meeting convened by Rigathi.

He said Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga was also in attendance.

“All aspirants in Nyeri met him from governor aspirant to those running for parliamentary seats. He has been having other meetings,” said Mr Thuku.

Yesterday, DP Ruto’s presidential campaigns director Mr Nanok told the Sunday Nation that they have deployed all strategies to ensure that they get as many votes as possible in different parts of the country.

University of Nairobi don XN Iraki argues that the strategy adopted by those camps is more efficient because it allows them to reach a bigger population contemporaneously unlike where a camp solely depends on one meeting daily.

He however warned that in case the two camos fail to speak one language, the language might boomerang because it will be construed that they are divided.

“It is an efficient strategy; you reach a bigger audience at the same time. The risk is if they do not speak the same language. The audience may interpret that as ‘disagreement.”