You treat Uhuru Kenyatta as an idiot at your peril; you treat William Ruto as wounded only if you wish to witness what happens to wounded lions. None of the analysts reading the 2017 tea leaves is wiling to put money down that come hell or high water, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto will secure five more years to rule. The key to their victory lies in the early reconstitution of their campaign propaganda machinery and the deployment of influential voices to far-flung foreign capitals with significant populations of deep-pocketed Kenyans capable of being persuaded to dig onto their pockets for the cause.
The President and Deputy President are smart, smarter than you or I. If they weren't, the message we would be receiving today of their reign would be one of disappointment, lethargy, in-fighting and antipathy. This is a message that resonates among the partisan members of the Opposition coalition; it does not resonate with the millions of Kenyans who, for the first time, have access to Huduma services, tarmacked roads, electricity, piped water, computers, free maternity care and Chinese noodles. For sure large swathes of what was developed Kenya is decrepit; but the even larger swathes that were not developed have been pulled into the twenty-first century for the first time in the history of independent Kenya. The have nothing but praise for the Government and, by extension, the President and the Deputy President.
Careful curating of social media spaces and public broadcasting, equal parts cajoling and bullying of the print media and good old fashioned coercion and bribery have guaranteed that the Opposition is seen as a team of malcontents unwilling to do anything positive for the people instead engaging in acts that have ended in tragedy more often than not. What is amazing is how somehow neither the President nor the Deputy President has been tarred by the brush wielded by the likes of Moses Kuria or William Kabogo, while the doyen of the Opposition is very much linked to every hare-brained scheme and utterance of the vulgar Johnston Muthama and Jakoyo Midiwo.
For the sophisticated among us, the assumption is that how we understand the three years of media management and strategic communication by the Presidency is the same way that the rest of the nation does. It isn't. I am not implying that they are less intelligent or educated than the Nairobi set. No, they are our equals in innate intelligence and academic achievement. What they have is a realistic appreciation of the rules of political power. They do not live on promises, much as urban Kenya does; they reward concrete returns for political capital paid. I will put money down that every Kenyan for whom the Government has provided electricity, free health care, piped water, tarmacked roads, market access and cheaper access to information will vote for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto even as they vote for the Opposition in the counties.
The mothballing of the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit is not a retreat from the political field of battle; it is the first volley by the Presidency in the War of 2017. The President has stolen a march on the opposition once more. The Opposition is busily making and putting out internal political fires. The Opposition might have made up for lost time when it comes to registration of voters, but it has concretely lost when it comes to the other areas of political warfare. The counties under its control remain backward, undeveloped, filthy, expensive, chaotic and violent. That is not a winning combination. Not by a long shot. This time round there is no need to control too tightly the electoral body or the Supreme Court (which is why Jubilee is fighting so hard to control them because if it wants it then, Godammit, CORD wants it too.). Once more, the Opposition has lost before the first shot was fired. Don't believe me? Follow #MakingNairobiGreat on Twitter and witness the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.