The faces behind Raila and Ruto economic blueprints

Bulsha:- Deputy President William Ruto and his main rival Raila Odinga went for top brains in various fields to craft their ambitious manifestos in a battle to win the backing of the 22 million registered voters.

Both Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga – the front runners in the August 9 presidential race – plucked university dons from lecture halls, experts in public service, economists and political strategists to come up with the campaign document.

Mr Odinga unveiled his manifesto early this month while DP Ruto is set to make public his agenda for the people on Thursday.

Dr Ruto’s manifesto is largely expected to capture public views he has been collecting in his countrywide regional economic forums.

Economist David Ndii, the brain behind the 2017 National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition manifesto, is leading Dr Ruto’s team of experts in crafting the final document.

Other members of the team are Tharaka Nithi senator Kithure Kindiki, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Prof Raphael Munavu and Dr Edward Kisiangani.

Prof Kithure lost to Mathira MP Rigathi Gachague in his bid to be DP Ruto’s running mate before he was incorporated into the team. The DP has further appointed him as his chief agent in the August 9 polls.

Prof Munavu is the chairman of Kenya National Academy of Sciences and was the founding chancellor of Laikipia University as well as one of the first commissioners of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA).

He is currently serving as professor of chemistry at the University of Nairobi.

Raila’s think-tank
Mr Odinga cobbled up a think-tank that comprises Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, governance expert Prof Karuti Kanyinga, Prof Peter Wanyande and Silvester Kasuku – the immediate former Director-General of Lapsset Corridor Development Authority.

Officials of Azimio told the Nation that it took six months of back and forth in crafting the manifesto that is heavy on economic revolution and fight against corruption.

Kanyinga is a research professor of Development Studies at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi while Prof Wanyande is a political scientist, who has taught at university level for over 30 years.

Prof Wanyande has also worked in government and in regional organisations such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) and also served as a commissioner with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, according to his curriculum vitae posted on the University of Nairobi website.

Manifesto development
“I have been involved in manifesto development since 1992 and I can tell you this is by far the most-researched, well-thought out and most consultative manifesto that I have ever had privilege to be part of. I have no doubt it will create the necessary transformation in the country. We had retreats in Nairobi, Naivasha, and Mombasa that culminated into the 10-point agenda. The candidate (Raila) was involved in all these deliberations and was the driver in every stage in this project that took nearly a year,” said Governor Muriithi.

“We had 21 regional conventions. In all those places, Kenyans presented written memorandum. The candidate and a team of expert, including some of us, converted them into a frame on how we are going to transform Kenya,” he added.

ODM chairman John Mbadi disclosed that the manifesto incorporated views that were collected during the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) town hall meetings.

He described the process as “extensive and consultative” that gave Kenyans opportunity to share their views on what needed to be fixed.

“There were technical people, then there were a few of us who were there to give the political touch. The document belongs to the candidate and his running mate because those who were involved were assigned by the candidate,” said Mr Mbadi.

Bottom-up leadership model
Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance says that unlike in past elections where the electorate were given a manifesto drafted by technocrats in boardrooms without fathoming what each region needs, they are embracing bottom-up leadership model where Kenyans give proposals of what they want government to do for them.

As DP Ruto moves from one county to another to collect views on their needs through what is dubbed ‘economic forums’, he has also put in place a team of experts who are compiling what has been proposed as well as drafting charters which will be signed between KKA and every county across the country.

“KKA platform is a campaign and economic platform based on a bottom-up approach. Economic forums attended by representatives of all economic sectors, are being conducted across all counties to receive proposals. The remaining counties are less than 20 per cent and will be completed in the next two weeks,” Governor Josphat Nanok said.

Already, DP Ruto has put up a web-like campaign team to craft his manifesto and strategy to shore up his chances of succeeding his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Campaign committees
To tackle different aspects of vote-hunting in his State House quest, the DP has formed nine campaign committees, which complement each other.

They include presidential campaign steering council, economic advisory, politburo, legal, governance and human rights, diaspora, communication, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) leadership structure and foreign relations.

The list of strategists and advisors include individuals who have held powerful positions in the previous regimes. Each team is mandated with different responsibilities with the core goal remaining selling DP Ruto’s power quest although their members are in more than one committee.

Economic advisory is chaired by Prof Ndii and it is mandated with coordinating bottom-up economic models, designing macro-level economic policies for implementation on forming government. It is also designing the structure of government.

It has Dr Irene Asienga, Dr Robert Muriithi, Eliud Owalo, Hassan Mohammed, Dr Crispin Bokea and Augustine Cheruiyot, among others.

“Over 250 professionals and experts in various fields led by Dr Ndii are assisting with the forum technical work, preparing county charters and the final manifesto will be a product of the county consultations. This team of experts represents the largest such team ever assembled in the history of Kenya,” said Mr Nanok.

The Turkana county chief observed that their manifesto will be one that will revolutionise the economy.

“The manifesto will be a blueprint to lift Kenya from the economic and financial crisis it currently is in,” he said.

Changing political landscape
UDA chairman Johnson Muthama said having the different economic forums is changing the political landscape of the country and it is aimed at giving them an advantage over their rivals.

“What we have decided to do this time round is to accurately identify the problems from each region. By the time we get to form the government, we know what each region needs. The government should not launch projects which have never been chosen by the people themselves,” said Mr Muthama.

Mr Muthama admitted that they are yet to formalise the manifestos noting that since every county has been presenting their economic requests which they would like to be implemented when the DP becomes president next year.

“We are listening to the views of the people and it is out of that now that we will come up with a manifesto that will be fulfilled according to the request and needs of Kenyans,” he said.

Apart from the ongoing county economic forums, the DP’s camp had received economic requests from various regions which were divided into eight clusters namely: Mount Kenya, Coast, Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western, North Eastern, Nairobi and Ukambani.

“This conversation will culminate in a national regional and county economic charters informed by comparative advantages that embodies aspirations of, and our commitments to Kenyans at the grassroots and especially the hustlers at the fringes of our economic life,” said Eliud Owalo, UDA deputy secretary general in charge of strategy.

He went ahead: “This is part of the ongoing Bottom-Up economic discourse that puts issues of ordinary people: mama mboga, boda boda operators, farmers, traders, pastoralists and fishermen at the centre of our political conversation. This is a new paradigm premised on freeing our country from ethnic politics and conversations that is only centred on leaders. We have a new engagement of people centred issues with tangible life changing results.”

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