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Kenya Controlled By Foreigners.

The International Republic Institute, a non- governmental organization with its roots in Washington DC, is not a new comer to opinion polling in Kenya. They have been at it since 2000 with along break after the 2002 elections until 2005 when they last accurately predicted the outcome of the Constitution referendum results.

In a country that has had its share of controversies over the opinion poll results, this diversity of opinion and methodology could not have come at a better time.

Common sense would imagine that even the Steadman Group would welcome this development, which in the long run may shield them from brutal attacks by those that might not take kindly to their results.

At the end of the day, the best that can happen for Kenya is for the media to break away from the mind set that only certain organizations can credibly carry out opinion polls because this being a fairly scientific process with a lot of subjective analysis and interpretation, being closed to outside alternative opinion can be as dangerous as living in a fool’s paradise.

Coming back to the latest IRI results, there is one thing that can be said about the numbers and conclusions that came out of the effort. The first unusual characteristic was the decision of the pollsters to have the unusual number of 3001 as their sample size. Without probing the decision further, I can only imagine that they had a good reason to do so as opposed to the usual round figures of 1200, 1500, 1800 and 2000 we have been accustomed to.

But the beauty of this poll was in the choice of areas to interrogate. They seemed to have learnt from the follies of the competition who at times had been accused wrongly or rightly by both sides of the political divide as pandering to the whims of this or that political faction.

Deciding to interrogate the society on government popularity, which direction Kenya was headed, parliamentary performance, MPs’ integrity as a group, the state of the economy, poverty levels, joblessness and the fight against corruption, was indication that the pollsters had the pulse of the nation in their palms.

Delving further into whether the government was committed to fighting graft, CDF management doubts and the way forward in managing the same, touched the core of the electorates’ feeling; no wonder the poll received positive response from an increasingly frank and bold society in responding to national issues.

I would like to look at the results in terms of the revelations we have seen coming out of the Ndungu Report, the Golden Berg inquest, the Anglo Leasing revelations, the Akiwumi report and now the ongoing Armenian saga at the Kenyatta Conference Centre.

A study of these reports in the light of the earlier ones like the J M Kariuki Parliamentary Commission of 1975 and the abortive Ouko Report of the 1990s, gives a trend that depicts Kenya as an increasingly open society where people will always testify and tell the truth even if they happen to be part and parcel of questionable dealings.

Ten or twenty years earlier, it was unthinkable to see a security officer taking a microphone in front of cameras to proclaim that he stag- managed the arrival at the airport of the Armenian brothers. Either they would be locked in or they would disappear without a trace. I would want to compare the latest poll results to two documents that have equally interrogated Kenyans though on a more detailed scale.

The July to October 2005 Self- Assessment report that audited Kenya’s performance in the areas of Political Governance, Democratic practices, Economic Management, Corporate Governance s and Service Delivery very much came out with similar results a year ago. The 2005 Self – Assessment that was finally verified by experts from Africa revealed that despite government wrangles with the press from time to time, Kenya still enjoyed unprecedented press freedom in the continent. More so, despite a failed coalition government, voices of dissent were still welcome in Kenya with the country registering zero political detainees in three years of its existence. More importantly, the infamous Nyayo torture chambers were closed for ever, indicating that the era of press freedom and free speech was here with us.

The 2005 APRM review revealed deep hatred for Members of Parliament who were seen as more greedy and selfish while at the same time lacked the commitment to perform their duties inside parliament. Their penchant for increasing their salaries and allowances, coupled with their participation in the management of CDF funds did not go well with voters. They were seen as an insensitive lot that grabbed everything in their way amidst abject poverty that was the lot of most Kenyans.

The IRI results are also in concurrence with the 2005 APRM report in so far as government approval ratings were concerned. In that report, the government scored high marks in initiating free primary education, health care programmes and funding primary school learning facilities. More over, the fact that Constituency Bursary Funds were made available to the needy students in High Schools and Colleges painted the government in good light.

Just like the IRI findings, the report captured disappointment with the Kibaki administration in its failure to create jobs, reduce poverty, and increase the pace of infrastructure rehabilitation and expansion and the failure of the government to translate the much hyped economic growth into tangible results for the wananchi at the personal level. In contrast to the 2005 peer review results, the IRI report has downgraded the Constitution Review and Political Wrangles in the Kibaki regime.

This can be explained in two ways; one the scramble for the review dissipated with the referendum results in November 2005. Secondly, the wrangles in the government were scattered when Kibaki dismissed the entire LDP ministers from his cabinet following his defeat at the referendum polls. Right now, as the IRI results rightly point out, the concerns for Kenyans are employment opportunities, poverty alleviation and economic recovery in that order.

The anger against political leadership has not dissipated with the fading hunger for a new constitution. Just like voters were ready to vote out their MPs in 2005, they seem even more determined in larger numbers to throw them out this year. If 90% of the people interviewed have sworn to vote, with 54% saying they are ready to vote out the current MPs, it is a worrying anger that permeates the entire country. More telling is the reason for their anger; MPs inability to exercise transparency and accountability coupled with their poor development records.

The poll also captures a level of maturity among the electorate never seen before. It shows that Kenyans are no longer ready to follow their leaders blindly. They know exactly how they would like to nominate their leaders and finally vote them in or out as the case may be. This could be a wake up call for political leaders like Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta who may still think they can get away with the tactics of the Moi era. Because 60% of Kenyans have said that they want direct voting at the nomination stage and not a delegates or automatic nomination of a party chairman, leaders who still think that way have been given food for thought.

The red light that this poll has shown presidential hopefuls is that those who harbor going it alone in the next elections will walk straight into the slaughter house. The Kenyan electorate has decided that political power must be shared and has sent a strong signal to lone rangers that their time is up. That a coalition government is what Kenyans want. With 73% routing for coalitions, it is a clear message that Daniel Arap Moi and Uhuru have to reconsider seriously.

The poll verdict on women candidates is as scary as it is worrying. It shows that Kenyans have not changed much since 1997 when Prof. Wangari Maathai and Charity Ngilu vied for the presidency. At that time a Kikuyu friend swore to me at a wedding ceremony that he would like a woman president long after he is dead. The Luos mocked Professor Nyongo for supporting a woman for president. Nine years later, the poll indicates that over 60% Kenyans are still not ready to vote for a woman president.

One of the casualties in the IRI report is Aaron Ringera and his KACC outfit together with arms of the government that are supposed to fight corruption. If three years later Kenyans can still say that corruption has increased and that the government is not committed to fighting corruption, it means that either we recruited ineffective people to deal with it or, the government has lost the war on corruption all together

This perception is confirmed when down in the report, Kenyans state that they can no longer trust their government in dealing decisively with the outcomes of Golden Berg, Anglo Leasing, Ndungu and the expected Armenian reports. The high rate of unbelievers; nearly 70% for Golden Berg, 71% for Anglo leasing, 65% for Ndungu and 70% for the impending Armenian report shows that trust in this government is fast dissipating.

However, the good news for the government in the report is its high ratings when it comes to press freedom and free speech. A credible 79 % of Kenyans truly believe there is press freedom in Kenya with another 86% testifying that freedom of speech has found its home in our midst. But equally telling is the fact that a majority of Kenyans,82% truly believe that freedom of expression has increased in the last few years.

This is definitely a boon for President Kibaki’s legacy. Finally, it will be interesting to see other results coming from other polls conducted by other pollsters including those that may be initiated by media houses themselves.

Article Source:

Munala wa Munala.


AprilUTCbMon, 02 Apr 2007 00:09:51 +0000000000amMon, 02 Apr 2007 00:09:51 +000007 19, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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