In less than three weeks, we shall bid goodbye to 2010 and usher in 2011. That means that in another three weeks, we shall enter the penultimate round before the next General Elections in 2012.
The political temperature shall start to rise as hopefuls start to focus on the various elective seats, from County Ward representatives to parliamentary seats from Governors to deputy governors, from senators to the coveted occupancy of State House.
Already the key political players are sharpening the political claws, with ODM recently holding a retreat in Naivasha and PNU Coalition leaders making an attempt to resuscitate life into a bed-ridden alliance in readiness for 2012.
So what factors will determine who becomes the fourth President of the Republic of Kenya? Firstly, the youth. According to the latest research by UNDP, 75 percent of Kenya’s population is below 30 years of age and only 50 percent of Kenya’s youth are expected to find gainful employment in their lifetime.
And the 2009 Population Census states that 61 percent of all unemployed adult Kenyans are between the ages of 18 and 35 years. This is a major demographic fact that will have a major impact on who gets elected President.
Expect every prospective to start crying crocodile tears expressing undying love for the youth of this country. This is despite the fact that with the grand coalition government each one of them had a chance to do something to fundamentally change the lives of young people and all of them, without exception let that opportunity to pass through the fingers.
Next to the youth factor is the women factor. It is always repeated that women constitute 51 percent of Kenya’s population. What is not known to Kenyans is that women are the most loyal voters who will always come out and vote despite all odds. During the recently held referendum, I was shocked to find 90-year old women lining up to vote. They told me they wanted to vote for a new constitution so that it can improve the lives of their grand children.
Never mind that by 10am the so called grand-children were sleeping in the trenches, totally drunk after consuming illicit brews. Owing to the dedication of women of this country to vote, no one can win Presidential Elections in 2012 without their support.
The Media will also play a major factor as usual. The only surprise this time round, it is social media that will have more impact than the traditional print and electronic book. If you are not extremely active on Facebook or Twitter, you may as well kiss goodbye to the Presidency come 2012.
You cannot underplay the impact that Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks will have on the Kenyan Presidential Elections in 2012. At the very least, WikiLeaks will have a restraining effect on Washington not to sponsor a Presidential candidate in Kenya. Still smarting from the WikiLeaks embarrassment, Obama’s administration will approach Kenya’s elections with a ten-foot pole. If you thought you will depend on Washington to propel you to State House, better start making friendship with Robert Mugabe.
The other factor that will determine Kibaki’s successor at State House will be the straight-talking Prof P.L.O Lumumba. I think Kenya is yet to come to terms with this phenomenally independent minded man.
The day he was confirmed as the Director General of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, corrupt Presidential hopefuls should have been warned to seek to be governors in either Pakistan or Nigeria. If you or your close allies have anything to hide as far as corruption is concerned, cut your losses and quit the Presidential race. PLO will get you.
Of course one cannot rule out the fact that ethnicity will have an over-bearing effect in 2012. You can throw epithets or brickbats at me for saying that, but that will be tantamount to the Greeks excommunicating Aristarchus of Samos for claiming that the earth is round or the English trying Galileo Galilei for claiming that the earth was moving.
I was baffled during the last elections in the US to find that exit opinion polls classify the outcomes based on ethnic profiling – African Americans, Anglo-Saxon, Jews, Hispanics and ‘Others’. I thought that America is too developed for that. So, if you ever dream of being the next President of Kenya, you have to study the subject of ethnicity seriously.
Finally, the International Criminal Court will have a disproportionate effect on who becomes President in 2012. The ICC will be a double-barrelled gun. Once the summonses are issued in March, 2011, it may remove from the political scene players who would have major impact and leverage in 2012. But that is only half the story.
The major side of the coin is that there are some individuals who will be considered by certain constituencies to have contributed, rightly or wrongly, to ‘fixing’ their respective leaders as far as the ICC indictments are concerned. The wrath of such voters may be the single-most factor that will determine the next President of Kenya.
All in all, we can all hope that the next General Elections will be free, fair and above all, peaceful. The alternative, to paraphrase Raila Odinga at KICC on December 30, 2007, will be "too dire to fathom."
(The author is a member of the Party for National Unity (PNU). The views expressed here are his own and do not represent the position of PNU. [email protected]).