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HomeKenya NewsKWENDO OPANGA: Why Raila ratings improved after naming Karua as running mate

KWENDO OPANGA: Why Raila ratings improved after naming Karua as running mate

Nairobi

Campaign spin masters had to train Thatcher on how to address audiences in a manner that cast her as caring, loving and soft. Karua often comes across as hard as nails and a tad rude. She will have to improve her soft skills.

Mr Raila Odinga received a considerable bounce in opinion polls, thanks to his naming Ms Martha Karua as his running mate to complete the Azimio La Umoja coalition presidential ticket.

That bounce was highly likely influenced by women voters and Mount Kenya enclave, the demographic and region whose large vote numbers are coveted by any ticket worth its salt.

There is no mistaking the power of the fact that a Deputy President is next in line in succession. If the President were to exit for some reason or become incapacitated by reason of health, the second in command would take over the reins.

DP William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga

What’s more, the second in command has a headstart in a succession election. This means Azimio’s message to Kenya’s women is that in the next dispensation a woman will be a heartbeat away from power.

Needless to say, Karua’s Mount Kenya region would want to bag the presidency after Odinga. Azimio, however, will need to do more to make or complete Karua as the coalition’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

For starters, the coalition will have taken note of outgoing Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s unexpected line of attack. He berated Karua, calling her an atheist. He compared her to Mr Rigathi Gachagua, the Kenya Kwanza running mate, whom he praised as a church-going Christian. It is a potent attack because believers are unlikely to vote for a non-believer.

Secondly, Karua has long been regarded by all and sundry as the Iron Lady of Kenya’s politics, thus reminding some of Margaret Thatcher, the deeply divisive UK’s Conservative premier of the 80s.

Campaign spin masters had to train Thatcher on how to address audiences in a manner that cast her as caring, loving and soft. Karua often comes across as hard as nails and a tad rude. She will have to improve her soft skills.

For starters, the coalition will have taken note of outgoing Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua's unexpected line of attack. He berated Karua, calling her an atheist. He compared her to Mr Rigathi Gachagua, the Kenya Kwanza running mate, whom he praised as a church-going Christian. It is a potent attack because believers are unlikely to vote for a non-believer.

And just days after Odinga brought Karua onto the Azimio ticket, President Kenyatta’s sounding board, Jubilee Party Vice-chairman David Murathe, announced that the President may not personally campaign for Odinga.

In an earlier piece, this writer had suggested that it was unwise for the President campaign for the ticket and make it three on Azimio’s ticket against Kenya Kwanza two. That casts the President as having his thumb on the scale.

Worse, the opposition has seized on the President’s open deference to Odinga and his angry and unsavoury attacks on his estranged deputy, as feeding the Kenya Kwanza propaganda mills. The coalition’s leading lights have lit into Odinga, branding him a project and puppet of the President’s.

Ends

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