The Kenya General Elections – A Personal Opinion 4 Aug 17

It would not come as a great surprise to many if I were to start this short note by stating that politics in Kenya is an emotionally charged affair. Ethnicity is such a driver in Kenyan politics that if you ask the average supporter from either the incumbent party, or the main opposition, what their chosen leader stood for, it may be difficult to distinguish. As we approach the 8th of August, when Kenyans will vote in significant numbers, there is a degree of uncertainty and anxiety from many. Whether it be leaked military communications potentially inferring pre-emptive military action to secure the incumbent’s position, or the supposed politically motivated murder of senior IEBC staff, there are many unanswered questions.

The fear, in the eyes of the international community, is that Kenya may slip back into the dark days that followed the 2007 elections. Calls of mass rigging triggered two months of violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 Kenyans while many hundreds of thousands were displaced. Kenya threatened to tear apart at the seams. Since then Kenya has been through some degree of national healing. The middle class is stronger and more vibrant than ever before. The economy continues to grow and infrastructure is improving. I believe a vast majority of Kenyans want nothing more than peaceful, fair and credible elections.

The pervasiveness of social media and the slickness of the Jubilee Party’s campaign stacks the odds in the favour of a second term for President Uhuru Kenyatta. Compounded further by the fact that no Kenyan President has ever served a single term and over 80% of all elections since democracy was widely adopted across Africa have resulted in a victory for the ruling party.

In the future we may expect to see more of the likes of Nairobi Governor Aspirant Mike ‘Sonko’ who has run an enigmatic campaign that seeks to garner support from across the ethnic groups that make up the nation’s capital. Mr Sonko’s assumed name means “rich man” in Sheng, the Swahili-English creole used widely in Nairobi, and it reflects his lively style, but also hides his ethnic background and tries to appeal to all of the city’s population. As urbanisation continues to increase perhaps the electorate will be more likely to vote for the candidate that best represents them, regardless of background and ethnicity.

Whatever attempts may or may not have been made to subvert the fairness of this election, it will be the people that decide who leads the country and the people that decide to accept the outcome peacefully, or not.

Dylan Evans
Managing Director Kenya
Salama Fikira

This report is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this report. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information within the report but Salama Fikira can take no responsibility for inaccuracies of fact or deduction. All images are subject to copyright.