11 Reasons Why Jubilee is Losing the Propaganda War to Cord on the IEBC Imbroglio
According to my crystal ball, Jubilee is losing the propaganda war to Cord in relation to the fate of IEBC ahead of the 2017 elections. The following is a run-down of key reasons why Jubilee is losing the war. After the Cord-Jubilee stalemate on the fate of IEBC, a series of events have unfolded:
1. Cord begins street protests marked by tear-gassing by riot police who use live bullets to kill Cord’s protesters. The protests proceed as planned across the country, protesters are killed by live bullets, tear-gassed, crippled and maimed by police. Property is destroyed. Business comes to a standstill in major cities including Nairobi. Police fail to stop the protests as threatened. Jubilee loses the war.
2. Then, the Inspector General bans Cord’s protests altogether. The IG threatens to use “full force” to stop the protests. Cord stays put. As the grand-standing continues, a Court of Law declares that Cord’s protests are lawful. Cord quickly convenes a Press conference to “celebrate” the victory. The IG quietly eats humble pie as Cord leaders and their supporters match from Uhuru Park to Anniversary towers. Jubilee has lost a vital propaganda offensive.
3. A handful of foreign envoys (mainly European and American imperialism) release a terse statement calling for dialogue between Cord and Jubilee on the IEBC stalemate. The situation is getting dangerous because imperialist interests in Kenya are threatened by persistent street protests. Cord quickly plays the “good boy” and suspends its weekly street protests “to give dialogue a chance”. Cord gives Jubilee a week to accept to dialogue or face fresh street protests. Jubilee refuses to respond and Cord returns to the streets, complete with fresh tear-gassing by police, injury of protesters by police and deaths from live bullets. In the eyes of the envoys, it is Jubilee which has refused to dialogue and Jubilee loses the propaganda war.
4. The South Korean President is in town. She is actually scheduled for a meeting with Uhuru Kenyatta at State House. Rumours has it that she has brought some goodies in the form of aid money but there is one condition which the government must meet before she can deliver. The leader of the Opposition, Raila Amolo Odinga, must be invited to State House because she wants to meet him. Somehow, the request has all the hall-marks of “Mission Impossible” but given the high stakes involved in the game, President Uhuru Kenyatta swallows his pride and calls Agwambo. In a surprise development that stunned the Kenyan nation, Raila zooms to State House with his Cord buddies to meet his South Korean friend. Jubilee’s supporters are tongue-tied. How could Uhuru and Ruto have accepted to meet Raila and company, more so, at State House Nairobi? The explanation about some visiting President doesn’t add up for when did this President become a “power broker” in Kenya? Jubilee loses the propaganda war because their leaders were forced to shake hands with the very people they have been tear-gassing in the streets. As the English would say, it is a really paradoxical situation!
5. What follows is that another big propaganda loss is created by the State House paradox. No one really knows what transpired but a day after the meeting, Raila Odinga appoints a “Dialogue team” from Cord’s side to open talks with Jubilee as per a decision at meeting which allegedly fixed the dialogue deal at State House. What happens next is that Jubilee rejects Cord’s team, arguing that there was never an agreement to dialogue, leave alone setting up a team. As accusations fly like jumbo jets, and as Jubilee declines to set up its side of the team, one side has lost the propaganda war. For the neutral observer, Cord is seen more as being interested in resolving the matter while Jubilee loses by being seen as the side which is anti-dialogue. Jubilee is portrayed by Cord as an opponent which is more interested in tear-gassing its opponents than engaging in constructive talks to resolve political disputes. At this stage, it is a 5-0 defeat for Jubilee at the propaganda level.
6. Madaraka day is approaching and Jubilee has already lost the propaganda war by transferring an important national celebration to Nakuru town instead of fixing it in Nairobi, the official seat of power. Cord quickly grabs the opportunity to organize its alternative Madaraka day at Uhuru Park in Nairobi. Jubilee sends police boss to ban the rally, arguing that the venue had been booked by a religious group that is scheduled to hold prayers at the venue on Madaraka day. At the end of the day, Jubilee loses the war when the religious body that supposedly booked the venue surfaces with a stunning statement that it will not hold the said prayers at the venue because the group had reached a deal with Cord that the Coalition is free to use the venue. Once again, Jubilee loses the propaganda war. Then the worst loss comes crushing.
7. The Madaraka day rally is banned by the police boss who is by now, acting more like a Jubilee errand boy than a top police boss. The big loss comes when the Court declares that Cord is within its democratic right to hold the rally at Uhuru Park. The rally proceeds and is attended by a mammoth crowd which has not been seen in Nairobi in recent times. Raila Odinga addresses the rally as Jubilee big wigs and supporters alike retreat to lick their wounds. It was a very big loss in deed!
8. Cord is in the streets and police kill protesters with live bullets. Images of dead bodies and live bullets being used against protesters go viral online as Cord hurries to fund-raise for the victims, parade the fallen heroes in public and to attend funerals of victims of Jubilee police brutality and murder. The ethos are strong. Earlier, the Cord leaders had passed by at hospitals “to visit the injured” and strategic pictures were also taken for online consumption. Images of bloody protesters battered by brutal riot police circulate liberally on social media. In fact, another picture surfaces showing Raila Odinga’s car having been shot at and a bullet mark on the windscreen is the evidence that police are trying to kill Raila. Obviously, and at the propaganda level, Cord did not shoot its own protesters and this is common sense. It is Jubilee who killed them as usual. Jubilee loses the propaganda war because it emerges as an irresponsible government with an undisciplined police force killing citizens who are simply exercising their Constitutional right to picket – the same citizens they are supposed to protect.
9. Then the most unlikely happens. William Ruto, the Deputy President, goes on TV with a copy of the Kenyan Constitution which he proceeds to read to justify why Jubilee cannot dialogue. No one in Jubilee notices that the responsibility of determining who is and who is not following the Constitution is with the Constitutional Commission of Kenya (CCK), not the Office of the Vice President. If CCK cannot deal with it, then another authority is the Court. By Ruto converting himself into a professor of the Constitution and giving a lecture on TV, Jubilee loses the propaganda war. At the end of the day, Cord will still not buy the DPs interpretation of the Constitution and Jubilee suffers a propaganda loss.
10. Then, the President does the unthinkable. All along, he has been preaching that his government will not dialogue with Cord over IEBC. The key chorus by his supporters is that the Constitution does not allow for any form of dialogue outside Parliament, the same line his DP had expounded on while ranting on TV. Then, through Muthama, Cord announces that if Jubilee does not engage in dialogue in the next weeks, Cord will increase its street protests from one to two days by adding Thursdays as another day of protest. Muthama warns that if after the increase, Jubilee is still adamant, Cord will once again up the ante by increasing protest days to three, four, five, six, seven before embarking on a 24-hour protest. Jubilee government is shaken because such a move carries the capacity to bring down the government. Despite its earlier “no dialogue” stand, Uhuru Kenyatta makes a U-turn and releases a statement saying that his government will set up a Committee aimed at addressing the IEBC stalemate through dialogue. Cord has so far scored one of its biggest propaganda victories against Jubilee. All “No to dialogue” singers are left with mouths agape as their Cord protagonists retreat to study Kenyatta’s statement.
Jubilee’s advisors ought to return to the drawing board to work out a new strategy of dealing with the IEBC issue. The Statement by Uhuru Kenyatta purporting to address the issue is clearly designed to buy time to contain the Cord protests. The big problem is that the strategy is too transparent and will, most likely, be rejected by Cord. My bet is that if it ever sees day-light, both sides will set impossible conditions that will ultimately led to the collapse of the talks prompting Cord to return to the streets.