By Neelam Rahim
On August 9th, 22.1 million registered Kenyans will go to the polls to elect the country’s fifth President and successor to the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta. Even though the focus is mainly on the high profile Presidential contest, across the 47 counties, the electorate will cast votes for county governors, parliament representatives and other lower-level positions.
Radio Islam International is joined in discussion with a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, trained as a political scientist with over 25 years of teaching and research in Kenya, Prof Gilbert Khadiagala.
According to Prof Gilbert, a constitution in 2010 created many more positions; therefore, the elections have become very crowded.
He says the key needed here is an electoral body that can manage the very complex process, which has to be done within a few hours. It also gets very confusing for the voters as the process is tedious.
Uhuru Kenyatta, who has served his two terms and is the son of the first President of Kenya, remains at the centre stage up to the elections even though he is no longer eligible. Prof Gilbert said this is because of a falling out with the deputy President, his former ally, William Ruto. He has now jumped ship and supports the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga.
Prof Gilbert tells Radio Islam the fallout began in 2018 and has escalated into severe public quarrelling. It looks so bad for the country that the two people who have been running it together have fallen apart.
He says it makes Mr Kenyatta’s presence on the electoral map very contentious because some complain that he should have been more neutral.
There are speculations that if Odinga wins power, he will be a weaker candidate, and therefore Kenyatta can continue to rule from the crib, he added.
Kenya is one of Africa’s largest economies with a thriving technology sector, and the World Bank has projected that Kenya’s gross domestic product will grow by 5.5 per cent at the end of 2022.
According to Prof Gilbert, what matters in the end in Kenya is not the economy. People don’t vote due to lack of bread; they vote because of their ethnicity.
Listen to the full interview on Radio Islam’s podcast below.