I am taking Kenya as a case study. The people of Kenya bearly 48 hours ago elected a president, Dr William Ruto, a deputy president and a socialist. He netted 7,176, 141 (50.49 per cent) to secure the 50 per cent plus one required to win the presidency in the first round.
Ruto packaged himself as a socialist, someone who believes in the centre-left ideology — caved his campaign slogans around the “hustlers” narrative. Yes, he wanted his people to feel that he, Ruto, belongs to the ghetto and is ready to fulfill their social needs, including security and social justice.
Research has shown that, in their previous elections, the citizenry voted massively on ethnic grounds, and many political actors in the period became a victim.
Kenyatta, the sitting president, voted on similar grounds – with the mantra, “we want our own.” Some felt they want their country back, using ethnic grouping as the greatest determiner of who becomes king. They did for President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Wait. What has changed in Kenya? Was there a paradigm shift and change in ideology?
Shattering glass ceilings against the status quo and voting based on ideas were observed in their recent election. Yes, their election was about issues, unlike the ethnic configuration that characterized their previous elections. A bar was raised in Kenya, especially for those seeking political power. Tribal bigots weren’t given the chance and attention to sail their way through — programs did.
The people of Kenya were poised to install change—brave enough to ignore the president’s choice, which many saw as a puddle. Ruto’s hustler national manifesto paved the way for him to reach out to the middle and low-income classes of society. They were interested in ideals they thought would improve their economic and social status.
The business class felt sidelined when it came to the government’s programs for economic growth. Some selected few, friends and chronics were enjoying fat contracts and exemptions from the government — sidelining other business groups.
The language that mattered most was “business development”. To some, the alleged corrupt practices by some government officials placed a burden on the economy and affected its growth.
The election was shifted from tribe to economic liberation. How best can people beat poverty and have a better life? Though regional balance played a role but wasn’t as effective as observed in the previous elections.
Ruto was painted as an opposition leader because he stood up for his principles and old lines, defied the odds and won the election on merit. He told the world some of the decisions he was against — taken by his government and made him the black “sheep” among his contenders. He was disowned by his people (government machinery) and some party folks. What made you think Uhuru Kenyatta would endorse Odinga on his presidential bid, someone considered an enemy?
The presidency heavily supported Odinga to amass resources to win this election, but fortunately, the voice and the will of the people prevailed. Some were spearheaded against the grand scheme plan by the sitting president to help the 5 – times failed presidential candidate – take over after he vacated office as president.
Sympathy votes came to play. The citizenry bought into the ideas of an all-inclusive government, economic liberation, business development, freedom and justice for all, irrespective of one’s financial status, tribe or religion. His slogans touched the hearts, and the programs were thriving, sound audible to the ears, and achievable. Well, others thought the world was against him — and the only way to show him support and love was to vote massively and convincingly for him to emerge the victor.
The same can’t be said in Ghana. Will the president of the republic support his long-time political opponent to unseat his vice when the presidential primaries in 2023 win? I begin to differ.
As issues unfold, as our economic growth is decelerating and woes keep on deepening — will Ghana adopt the Kenya way of breaking the “8” or the other traditional way?
To me, Dr Ruto’s victory was sent to him from above.
By: Adjei Boakye