Raila in New Poll Strategy

Written By Michael Maunda on Sunday, June 24, 2012 | 10:55 PM

Kenya - PRIME Minister Raila Odinga will hold an ODM national executive committee meeting on Tuesday to complete his campaign strategies for the March 2013 election. Four different structures have been created to support Raila’s third attempt to become president. These are the Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign Secretariat, ODM National Party Secretariat, ODM Reloaded and the Friends of Raila. A fifth unit consisting of a Council of Elders is also in the offing, according to insiders.

The Council of Elders will comprise mostly former members of the Rapid Response team that unsuccessfully attempted to reconcile Raila and his former party deputy leader Musalia Mudavadi who quit ODM in April. “We have an arsenal that we will be unleashing in the coming days. We are preparing for a major operation and it’s for us to know and others to be surprised,” said Barrack Muluka, head of the communication department at the campaign secretariat. “We will shock and awe. They (our opponents) haven’t seen anything yet,” added Muluka. “There are more instruments to come to link up with the ones they think they know,” he added.

The party is also setting up offices in several countries outside Kenya to popularise the Raila candidacy among the diaspora.In 2013 Kenyans in the diaspora will for the first time be able to vote in the presidential elections. Aspirants have been using their official foreign travel abroad to campaign. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka was in the United States to drum up support for his presidential bid in Texas, Atlanta, Minnesota and Washington DC in May before flying to China where he was awarded an honorary degree. Others who have set up diaspora offices are Peter Kenneth and Uhuru Kenyatta.

Next week's NEC meeting will hammer out strategies for the forthcoming election. “We are leaving nothing to chance. It’s do or die,” said a party insider who requested not to be named discussing party affairs. The presidential campaign secretariat is headed by former Permanent Secretary James Ongwae. It will coordinate the presidential campaign and manage the schedule of rallies for the Prime Minister. It is also consulting think tanks to define the manifesto that the party will take out to the electorate.

Ongwae replaced Brown Ondego who was seen to be a Mudavadi sympathizer. Ongwae has dismissed Raila’s opponents as lightweights without any ideology. “They lack an agenda and Raila is the only reform minded candidate,” Ongwae said at Marani, Kisii on Thursday. The former PS was bullish that ODM has the best strategy to win a majority of seats in the senate, parliament, county governors and county assembly. He was keen that ODM presidential candidate should not be held hostage by a hung parliament.

Ongwae worked in government for over 30 years, as Permanent Secretary and Director of Personnel Management, PS in the Ministry of Agriculture and later Secretary to the Teachers Service Commission. “At the secretariat, we are not concerned about who will be the Deputy Prime Minister today or tomorrow. The fundamental concern for us is where this country is going,” Muluka said before. “What will a Raila presidency do for Kenyans and what do the other aspirants have to offer to the country? This is our concern,” he added.

The secretariat is also in charge of fundraising for the campaign. The budget is expected to run into billions of shillings. The national secretariat at Orange House has been left with the task of overall party management. The secretariat which is headed by Medical Services minister Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o as ODM secretary and long time executive director Janet Ong’era. It will come up with the party manifesto and conduct nominations. Right now, it is ODM Reloaded that is catching attention. A team of mostly youthful MPs have stuck with Raila after others decamped and been organizing road shows and rallies across the country. Key members are MPs Ababu Namwamba, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru and Ali Hassan Joho.

The Friends of Raila (FORA) based in Kileleshwa is a new body with a new deputy patron Imenti Central MP Gitobu MP Gitobu Imanyara. It is supposed to consolidates the various lobbies across the country supporting Raila's bid. FORA officials include Hassan Omar Hassan, former vice chairman of Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and its secretary general Eliud Owalo. 

Source: The Star