Raila has not learned lessons of 2013

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RailaCord leaders and Raila confidants remain uneasy that the fundamental weaknesses in Cord’s 2013 campaign have not been rectified.

A litany of mistakes, internal wrangles, bungled party nominations, confused tactics and poor strategy cost Cord leader Raila Odinga the presidency in 2013.

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Following the collapse of Okoa referendum this week, there are fears among Raila’s supporters that he may not have learned his lesson from that loss.

They outlined various areas of concern to the Star in interviews over the last two weeks. They want those weaknesses highlighted so they can be rectified before 2017.

On Sunday a poll by Infotrak showed that Raila would get 28 percent of the vote in a presidential election today compared to 45 percent for Uhuru.

Raila appears to be slipping back from 2013 when he got 43.7 percent of the vote compared to 50.07 percent for Uhuru, although Raila contested the results at the Supreme Court.

Firstly, the ODM nominations were messy, especially in Nyanza and Western Kenya, where unpopular candidates were given party nominations. As a result, many Raila supporters did not turn up to vote on election day.

Managers of the ODM secretariat “sold” nomination certificates to the highest bidder causing

chaos and discontent on the ground.

The confusion extended to IEBC where party officials kept changing the party nomination list well past the deadline.

“One official was at IEBC changing the list until 3am. The following day ODM Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o went to the IEBC and changed the list. A week later the party demanded that the entire list be replaced. IEBC bent over and quietly obliged,” said a former IEBC official.

Secondly, Raila’s trusted aides laid the ground for his defeat. The aides fought among themselves for control of campaign funds, undermined each other throughout the campaign and in some cases pocketed million of shillings meant to facilitate party activities.

Recruitment, management and payment of party agents across the country, and especially in Central Kenya, was so poor that agents in some cases signed away results after they were paid by Jubilee.

“An aide pocked the millions of shillings meant for agents so Jubilee took advantage and paid them instead in Rift Valley and in central Kenya. You can guess what results they signed in forms 34, 35 and 36,” a former MP told the Star.

Thirdly Uhuru’s TNA party and the Jubilee coalition with William Ruto’s URP

party was far more media savvy than ODM and Cord.

Uhuru recruited British PR company BTP Advisers, used by many state parties around the world at great expense, to manage its campaign messages. It was BTP that advised Jubilee to use the ICC to win votes by presenting Ruto and Uhuru as victims of an international conspiracy.

By contrast, Raila’s team gave marketing contracts to inexperienced friends and relatives. Raila’s son Junior was entrusted to implement key marketing messages.

Fourthly, Raila had alienated many of his strongest strategists and mobilisers before the 2013 election. In 2007, William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi, Charity Ngilu and Najib Balala led the campaigns in the Rift Valley, Western, Nairobi and Coast. By 2012 those areas had moved to Uhuru’s side and Raila’s core support was restricted to Nyanza, Western, Ukambani and Coast by election time.

While he was Prime Minister from 2007 to 2013, Raila did not do enough to improve the quality of life of those supporters who depended on sugar cane, cotton, rice and fishing which were all in decline.

Franklin Bett, the chair of the ODM elections board in the 2013 election, has no kind words for his former party leader.


had divided attention. From dealing with the aftermath of bad nominations to looking for votes himself. His worst mistake was the people he hired to help him. They messed him up a great deal,” said Bett.

Eliud Owalo, the chief agent and head of the ODM election secretariat, was busy fighting Bett and Caroli Omondi, the chief of staff in Raila’s office.




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