Kenyan elections, Boeing versus Airbus

Author: Mr Karoli Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate.

What you need to know:

From tribal, ideological bases, Kenyans have narrowed their political choices to “vehicles” or aircraft

Before Covid-19 brought the world crashing to its knees, global aviation had a very strong run spurred by megalomaniac travel.

At its helm was the Airbus A-380 that could pack up to 600 passengers on its multi-decked carrier. Boeing did not have an exact answer but it had the Boeing 787 Dreamliner favoured for its economy.

It consumed less fuel and had the elegance of a wide-bodied jet. Pilots deftly chauffeured their passengers out of the airports powered by precision navigation.

Come Covid-19, the global aviation industry faced near collapse, piled on by distraught economic conditions, continuous lockdowns in big markets like China, Australia and travel restrictions everywhere else.

Airports including our own Entebbe became ghost towns.  At the end of the Covid pandemic, the A-380 was no more, most airlines had no further use of it, mothballed existing fleets and sent them to their final resting places.

The collapse of the A-380 carried with it a number of prestige airlines like British Airways that are now a shadow of their former selves.

Airlines after Covid have learnt how to pack smaller aircraft and are reluctant to go back to the lavish days. It’s tragic that the A-380, a continental effort and answer to Boeing’s 747 Superjet, collapsed so spectacularly.

This analogy describes the Kenyan 2022 election. From the ashes of the legacy parties, KANU, Ford Kenya, Ford Asili and the Democratic Party that dominated the 1992 Bunge where KANU only had a working majority, 100 to 88 and in their earnest heart of hearts knew at least one third of these seats were stolen, Kenyans have taken multi-party politics one step further.

From tribal, ideological bases, Kenyans have narrowed their political choices to “vehicles” or aircraft. It actually comes down to which aircraft you board, that may land you in paradise or in Taiwan, Boeing versus Airbus.

The two formations are evenly matched. As I write this column,  many friends, pals and acquaintances made the mistake of waiting up all night for a result which will be announced five days from today; close but not very close.

Raila Odinga and William Ruto are separated by fractions of a percentage, but are separated by a bigger numerical threshold, the 50 percent plus one, the determinant of the winner of the race.

In recent times, only Mwai Kibaki in 2002 at the helm of a formation, NARC that overwhelmed KANU with 70 percent of the vote has significantly exceeded 50 percent.

It was humbling here in 2021, when President Museveni was happy to return to State House with 58 percent of the vote for a sixth elective term. The President, just like Daniel arap Moi, knew this figure had other major problems for the country.

Lack of consensus, dissatisfaction with the status quo.  Moi deployed all these tools recruiting Raila Odinga from Ford Kenya and several opposition Members of Parliament to his side.

In 2021-2022, President Museveni has obliterated the legacy opposition parties, DP and UPC by recruiting the rump of their leadership into a cohabitation.

He has also made a play into FDC by doing a dual tactical formation recruiting from inside its ranks.

However, he is yet to play the master card,which may yet bring FDC to its knees. After the grueling 2021 elections, he found a listening ear with tired and frustrated FDC cadres smarting from loss of their pole position as the leading opposition party.

He is yet to rest from these entreaties. Pushed for survival, the political class is quickly forming into Kenyan style formations, in a formation, you lose identity but not necessarily goals.

Col Besigye seems to finally understand this. But first there will be a lot more tears as the ruling party continues to recruit and after the cohabitation of DP and UPC, just FDC and NUP remain.

Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. [email protected]