Election campaign money-Kibaki tells electrate to take the money and enjoy it
President Kibaki has a way of making serious things sound juvenile.
At a time when the country is busy trying to end the culture of handouts in electoral politics, and the bribery that is rife in election campaigns, the Head of State told over 2,000 delegates, drawn from all over the country, to take the money from the aspirants.
The President said time had come “to speak the truth”. He said that at election season, there’s a lot of money flowing to the voters, so that the aspirants get the votes. The President advised the delegates to take the money, but go ahead and preach peace.
“Hata ikiwa huyo mtu ana pesa nyingi, na anatoa…. Ikitolewa, wewe chukua, na kama hutapata, ni makosa yako,” the President said in his off-the-cuff remarks, before he read his official speech.
That loosely translates to a licence to take the money from the aspirants and enjoy it.
As he wound up his speech, the Head of State said that money was the only factor that would change the course of elections, because, “there are those who are here, who want to give you a little money so that you say only good things about them”.
“Why do you think people create chaos; it is because of money. This nation has made progress and it has huge amounts of money,” said the President.
The delegates cheered the same refrain the clergy and politicians often use at election time when wooing voters: To take the money, but vote for a person who will change their lives. That this time it came from the President, is a first for the country.
And in the conference room, there was nostalgia galore when the choir from the National Youth Talent Academy took the stage and sang patriotic songs that characterised former President Moi’s tenure at the helm.
All the guests, from the President, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice- President Kalonzo Musyoka, Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, ministers, MPs, and senior civil servants, plus the delegates, stood to their feet and danced to the songs.
The whole auditorium at the Bomas of Kenya roared: “Daima.”
And the clapping and ululation was so loud, so jovial, it reminded one of days gone by, when Muungano Choir ruled the airwaves with patriotic compositions.
When it came to the chorus, of course led by the choir and a super live-band, the soloist came in again: “Wenzangu, wenzangu!” And delegates roared back the chorus. The atmosphere was electrifying.
Mr Odinga also took to the floor and reminded everyone that it was at that very hall, where the delegates to the 2004 National Constitutional Conference danced when the constitution was approved.
He then gave a history of how things went until August 27, 2010, when the two-year-old Constitution was promulgated.
But he did not mention the details. He skipped the bit where the government lost in the referendum in November 21, 2005, with a curt “the rest is history”.
Mr Odinga did not forget that Mr Joseph Martin Shikuku, the veteran politician who died last week of prostrate cancer, was part of the team that was spearheading the constitutional review.
He asked the delegates to observe a minute of silence. That moment did not even last the minute. But the point was made.