Deputy President William Ruto will borrow heavily from the tactics of two of Africa’s renowned political parties to cobble up a winning formula in the 2022 General Election.
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) is set to design a campaign strategy similar to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) and Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in a bid to win over the masses.
ANC and CCM have powerful grassroots structures that help in the mobilisation of members and potential voters, a system that UDA hopes to put in place ahead of next year’s polls.
UDA chairman Johnson Muthama yesterday told the Nation that they have borrowed ANC and CCM structures because they make it easier to engage with voters from the sub-location level upwards.
“UDA starts its foundation from the sub-location to the sub-county. It provides leadership from villages to the sub-county, county to the national level. This structure can only be found at ANC and CCM. We must win elections through our policies,” Mr Muthama said.
State House bid
With all signs showing that President Uhuru Kenyatta will back an opposition leader, the DP is leaving nothing to chance in his State House bid.
Former National Super Alliance (Nasa) leaders Raila Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford-Kenya) are believed to be scheming a political deal with the President.
UDA will today begin its second round of meetings with aspirants, targeting Kajiado, Narok and Nakuru counties. The meeting is part of the DP’s strategy, where different regions are expected to produce unique economic blueprints.
To popularise the party and market Dr Ruto’s policies, UDA will use social media and grassroots campaign teams. They also intend to employ the Church to reach out to the masses.
Mr Muthama said the DP’s camp banks on the segmentation of the country in a bid to capture the economic aspirations of the people. “We have identified the needs in each region. When we form the government, we won’t launch projects not needed by the people,” said the former Machakos Senator.
The economic blue prints will be supported by the ‘Hustler’ narrative, with the DP often repeating his rags-to-riches tale as a man who rose from a chicken-seller to the second-in-command. “Our message in these by-elections must portray that the DP is the savior of hustlers,” said Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono, a staunch ally of Dr Ruto.
UDA secretary-general Veronica Maina said the party will today start its consultative meetings with aspirants from Kajiado, Narok and Nakuru counties.
They will be followed by Tharaka-Nithi, Meru, Nyeri and Laikipia on October 1, then the larger Nyanza-Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu and Siaya on October 11. Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Embu and Kiambu will follow on October 12 then wind up with Western region on October 13.
“Fully paid and registered aspirants will receive communication on the venue and modalities of the forum,” said Ms Maina.
Aspirants eyeing ward representative seats will pay Sh2,000, those seeking National Assembly posts as well as party positions will pay Sh5,000.
Gubernatorial and senatorial hopefuls will pay Sh10,000, while those intending to seek the party’s ticket to run for the presidency will part with Sh100,000.
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, who chairs the economic blue print forums, said they are banking on the youths to ascend to power to implement the bottom-up model.
“The UDA bottom-up economic model and strategy, and soon to be launched manifesto, provide a proposal to the socio-economic problems and challenges facing Kenyans. Small and medium businesses, mama mboga, boda boda operators and unemployed youths,” Mr Nanok said.
Weekly meetings that Dr Ruto holds at his Karen residence are also geared towards forming campaign committees from the grassroots level upwards.
Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, a key ally of Dr Ruto from Western, said they have constituted campaign committees in all constituencies to recruit members.
“We are not scared of the other politicians, because they do not have the muscle to mount a campaign against Ruto but the only competitor we have is Mr Odinga. In Western, we have around 8,000 campaigners,” said Mr Echesa.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said: “We have recruited members in every village, estate and town. We have an army of volunteers. We are building grassroots support systems.”
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said DR Ruto’s presidential quest will be led by ‘hustlers’. “Dr Ruto has abandoned the old way of doing things. He’s crafting a new way of playing politics,” he said.
The vocal lawmaker said the regional economic committees have taken up the roles that used to be handled by ‘tribal chiefs’. “We have developed regional economic blue print drivers who will always sit and discuss their economic issues and how they can be solved,” he said.
Whenever the DP visits a region, he promises a huge chunk of money, which is later dished out by his allies. After touring Bungoma County last week, Mr Barasa distributed cash to various groups.
“This is part of our belief in a bottom-up economy. Millions of people who live at the bottom of the pyramid engage in various economic activities, such as selling vegetables, groceries among others and it’s our duty to boost their businesses as we await to form the government. We shall set aside Sh100 million, similar to Constituency Development Fund (CDF), to support them,” said the Kimilili MP.
“We’ve formed village groups of 20 people who are bottom-up economic model ambassadors. Their role is not to campaign, but to entrench or educate people on our blueprint and also solicit for views to better our manifesto.”
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said the future of the nation is with the youth. “In most families, it’s the youths who are influencing decisions on who should be elected and in case you ignore them, you’re likely to fail. They are an integral part of our campaign,” he said.
The DP’s social media team is led by Mr Dennis Itumbi, a former State House director in the communication team and now the ‘Hustler Nation’ spokesman known for his “System ya Facts” slogan.
His team is behind all the content posted under the so-called ‘Hustler National Intelligence Bureau’ (HNIB). Mr Itumbi is also tasked with creating Twitter accounts for some of the legislators oscillating around Dr Ruto and ensuring that they attract huge followers.
Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet), MPs Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Kimani Ichungwah (Kikuyu) Millicent Omanga (nominated senator), Caleb Kositany (Soy), Nelson Koech (Belgut) and political commentator Prof Edward Kisiang’ani also play a huge role.
“We will be paying bloggers to push our agenda, which is so far resonating well with the young generation. Some of those hashtags on Twitter are sponsored by our camp,” said a source familiar with the plan.
The DP is always diplomatic and civil on social media pages handled by his press team, but whenever a story he disagrees with appears in the newspapers, diplomacy is dropped.
He exhibits raw emotion in his posts. He has four million followers on Twitter and 1.6 million on Facebook. He regularly updates on his engagements and, save for the few outbursts against the press, the real battles are taken up by his online team.
Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali and Bomet Senator Christopher Lang’at yesterday said they have opted for social media campaigns because the group they are targeting is the youth.
“The number of Kenyans who are on social media has increased compared to 2013 and 2017 campaigns. Whenever we have a message to put across, we are aware that it will reach out to many people,” said Mr Washiali.
Dr Lang’at added: “Our target is to meet the young people, who we anticipate will be the largest voters next year and these are the people who need information. They are very influential.”