2016 is here with us and no doubt it will be a year full of politics both in the Country and the region. As Kenya and Rwanda prepare for their respective presidential elections in 2017, and as Museveni seeks to be endorsed once again by Ugandans to remain president. Magufuli on the other hand will be capitalizing on the relatively calm political climate in Tanzania to work on the economy. Some economists project that ceteris paribus, Tanzania’s economy will be 20% larger than Kenya’s by 2020. Pointing on corruption and tribalism as some of the factors that will largely undermine Kenya’s economic progress.
The US dollar is projected to strengthen further this year and weaker states, Kenya included, have already secured loans from the IMF to cushion against a strong dollar.
The refugee and rebel questions due to the unrest in Burundi might also prove to be a challenge for Rwanda, Tanzania and Eastern DRC. Bearing in mind a Hutu Nkurunzinza and a Tutsi Kagame and the blame game that is already at play.
All said, so what are the politics of 2016?
Party Politics:- As is the norm, politicians will be looking to survive. Alliances, new parties, party hopping are just but a fraction of what to expect. Politicians will be looking to optimize on the tragedy of the masses voting for a party regardless of the candidate. Hence, majority will be seeking the best option for them to hide their underachievement yet still survive.
One interesting move to keenly look out for is the formation of the new party JAP. This is a vehicle, from my opinion, designed to be used more for the 2022 purpose than for 2017. Why? The incumbent does not really need it. But time will tell.
On the same note, I however, do not see the need to push for legislation for the country to have only two political parties. Dominant political parties even in mature democracies are not as a result of legislation but institutionalization. This way, citizens will find themselves naturally confining themselves into a political party. Look at the case of the US or the UK for instance. They have dominant parties while at the same time smaller parties still enjoy representation. The Conservative and Labor parties for instance, in the UK jointly command 67% of representation as the Scottish National party, Liberal Democrats, Democratic unionist party, Green party of England and Wales among others jointly command the remaining 33%.
Give political parties mature structures. Make the parties stand for certain ideologies as opposed to personalities and voila, slowly you are institutionalizing the party.
Presidential Candidates:- It’s no doubt that we already have serious individuals bringing forth their candidature for the 2017 bid. Incumbent included. And so, be ready to see more of their faces in funerals and harambees.
My top three who have high chances of making an impact this year being;
Uhuru Kenyatta:- Being an incumbent, he needs to campaign through results and not promises. Big challenge for him being corruption cases in his regime. If he is able to demonstrate this year that he is indeed tackling corruption, and citizens get to see results, then that will be more than enough campaign for him. A lot of people both in the country and the region have developed a liking for his personality. Thus, if he tackles this elephant in the room successfully, in 2017, he will not need a party or a running mate because the citizens of this great republic will all be behind him. ( Goodluck Jonathan joined the club of one term presidents in Africa simply because Nigerians were tired of one thing- CORRUPTION )
Raila Odinga:- This is a name that has featured for a long time now in Kenya’s political terrain. Still commanding a large following and always full of surprises, he is not to be overlooked. At the moment tactfully using the corruption allegations in Government for his advancement. He however, has a huge task of consolidating his coalition’s loyalty since some members have already started jumping ship.
Peter Kenneth:- Although not so much activity has been witnessed from this Presidential candidate in the recent past, 2016 is an opportune time for him to come out more aggressive than never before. It’s also the time to strategically identify a running mate. He is equally not to be overlooked. Reason being more and more Kenyans have started to realize that tribal politics is costly for this Nation. And that he has that needed charisma to unite Kenyans irrespective of ethnic background. With a good strategy, he is no doubt going to be a force in the 2017 bid.
One commonality among these three candidates is that all have the potential to at least command a following outside their ethnic communities.
Thus, 2016 is to remain a political year both in the country and the region.