NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – The ruling Jubilee Party has dismissed claims by a representative of the now infamous Cambridge Analytica that they “stage-managed” President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election in 2013 and 2017.
Speaking to Capital FM News, Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe said they never dealt directly with Cambridge Analytica with the extent of their engagement being through an affiliated company he identified as SCL.
“There’s nothing there,” Murathe said. “We engaged the services of several marketing companies. All they (SCL) did for us was branding; billboards, T-shirts and the like. They had no involvement in our social media campaign.”
Their main Opposition in both polls however remains unconvinced with the head of the National Super Alliance Secretariat Norman Magaya viewing it as proof of their claims that Jubilee employed underhand tactics to steal victory both times.
“The UK and US ambassador finally can wake-up to this reality and apologise to Kenyans. These are issues we raised with them. We wrote to the EU observer missions about the role of Cambridge Analytica in the Kenyan election,” Magaya said in an interview on KTN News.
An expose aired by Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom, includes hidden camera footage of company Executive Mark Turnbull stating: “The Kenyatta campaign which we ran in 2013 and 2017… we have rebranded the entire party twice, written their manifesto, done two rounds of 50,000 surveys… research, analysis, messaging, then we’d write all the speeches and we’d stage the whole thing; so just about every element of his campaign.”
The UK-based firm is accused of generating and disseminating propaganda online in Kenya’s elections in an effort to get President Kenyatta elected.
A tactic, Magaya said, made all the more deplorable by its intent to inflame already heightened ethnic tensions and one which could have very well pushed Kenya off the precipice.
In the Channel 4 News expose however, Turnbull unabashedly promoted strategies that prey on people’s fears stating “elections are not won on facts.”
Magaya therefore said the coalition had constituted a legal team of five to work together with its IT experts to determine the extent of Cambridge Analytica’s role in the elections and inform what legal action, if any, they should take.
“Remember that we did an extensive study of the electronic results transmission system between August and December last year with our IT team; so we’re having the two teams sit together with a view that will be able to present a report by the end of the week.”
The Opposition has also made the case for restrictions to be placed on the role “foreign political mercenaries” can play in Kenya’s elections.
“In order to protect our nascent democracy from such Foreign Political Mercenaries it may be desirable to curtail or ban, through legislation, their involvement in our politics,” the Orange Democratic Movement’s Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said in a statement.
Cambridge Analytica is under investigation in the US and UK for the role it played in getting US President Donald Trump elected; having been suspended by Facebook for unauthorized access to users’ data.
And though it has publicly denied engineering and mounting a propaganda campaign against Raila Odinga – President Kenyatta’s main competitor in the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections – Turnbull did make the following revelation in the Channel 4 News expose:
“It has to happen without anyone thinking that’s propaganda because the moment you think that’s propaganda, the next question is who’s put that out. So we have to be very subtle. It may be that we have to contract under a different name so that no record exists with our name attached to this at all.”