The GEMA community has been the country’s deciding vote-block since independence. Whenever the mountaineers unite their influence is insurmountable. Not even the 41 versus 1 narrative of the hotly contested 2007 election managed to shake the block off balance.
On the flip side, when this community exhibits divisions their prospects are very unpredictable. Take the 2002 election for instance and suppose the Luhya and Luo communities aligned with Uhuru Kenyatta. I bet our projections on this converge absolutely. The unity and/or division among the mountaineers notwithstanding, this slice has some observable characteristics that may warrant a classification.
The diverse characteristics of a voter may overlap several classes, but there will always exist some dominant aspects placing them squarely in one class. The painstaking activity for candidates is identifying members of each class and their immediate needs. Understanding the needs of the different classes is necessary in projecting their likely voting patterns.
THE RESTLESS ANTAGONISTS
The primary characteristic among members of this class is biases.
They have no precise socio-economic interests in the political process, may not understand much about governance, and may not necessarily be up to date with the affairs of the country but always have a way of getting the biased political news of their liking. They are what my former teacher describes as “a one band radio”. The block spreads across different socio-economic classes.
Even highly educated individuals sometimes fall under this category. This vocal group is almost always driven by shared hatred. They get excited about the prospects of a common enemy and rally around the agendum to punish the enemy. Their motivation may seem laughable. However, there exists no higher loyalty than the one this group has to its cause. Turnout among members of this class is above 80% and the voting pattern is predictable. Harsh utterances are the fodder keeping the group energized and focused. In the 2022 contest, this class will vote to punish President Uhuru Kenyatta unless they are rallied around a different enemy before then.
HIRED VOTING MACHINES
If you are still struggling to wrap your head around the concept of “electoral punishment” then you have not met these indifferent people. There is a very high likelihood members of this class will not even be aware of the election date. Mostly comprising of disenfranchised and dejected youths, this block operates in a simple, transactional manner- votes in exchange for money.
Turnout is dependent on the prevalence of voter bribery. The encouraging aspect of this category is, that once bribed they deliver their end of the bargain. Predicting a voting pattern among members of this group is very difficult as there exists no form of loyalty or even flimsy attachment to a leader or cause. Turnout at the poll can be as low as 10% depending on the level of competition. Fundraising and bribery with impunity are central strategies towards winning this class of voters.
THE “MAUMAU” AND THEIR “DESCENDANTS”
This class of voters either fought in, experienced, or keenly studied the MAUMAU war or any other successive wars the community has been party to including the 2007 post-election violence. In effect, this class lives in constant premonition. They have developed strong emotions around the concept of using political power to protect the community. Their primary characteristic is mistrust towards outsiders.
Furthermore, this category idolizes community heroes, especially those who instigate some form of violence to protect the ‘House’ from or retaliate against external aggression. This class will always be loyal to the community’s “king” and will turn out in large numbers to vote for the “king” or his choice. The turnout among members of this class is always above 80% and their voting pattern is predictable.
There exists evidence from the past, not worth revisiting but which can be critically analyzed to understand who this block is likely to be loyal to in the future. However, currently, it is firmly under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s control and he will largely determine the direction it takes next year.
THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY
This is where real politics come into play. These are the holders of economic capital which determines what political direction the country takes. The class is woke, ambitious, crafty, and ruthless. They have a clear agenda as far as their political engagement is concerned – protecting the business interests in government. These are the influential business leaders, tenderpreneurs.. . This class has a hierarchical structure with a robust interconnection within and between the hierarchies. With each level of hierarchy comes a different set of needs/demands.
At the highest level sits a club of well-heeled elites who constantly meet to decide which aspirant/leader serves their interest best at the moment. Below them lies a cascade of hierarchies with members of each level depending on the influence of those in the upper level to satisfy their ambitions.
This closed organization has a significant level of mistrust towards outsiders. Access to the resources, network, and information within the organization is exclusively through the super-rich elites. It is difficult to predict turnout among members of this class but the influence the class wields within the community makes it lucrative to any aspirant. If you want to know who the organization will back just study keenly who gets more visits from Peter Munga and his friends.