President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto dance to a song during a rally in Bungoma County. Photo/CHARLES KIMANI
PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta has embarked on a charm offensive campaign of dishing out goodies across the country, a move the opposition are crying amounts to voter bribery.
Uhuru, apart from listing and banking on his four-and-a-half-year achievements for voters to give him a second term, is also dangling the carrot to the masses to ensure he is on the right side of history by challenging the NASA brigade’s strategy to reduce him to a one-term President.
The new campaign strategies Uhuru is employing during the last-minute rush to woo voters before the August 8 polls include dishing out cheques to forgotten integrated internally displaced persons and issuing title deeds both in opposition zones and his strongholds.
During the June 1 Madaraka Day celebrations in Kabiruini Grounds, Nyeri county, Uhuru directed Lands CS Jacob Kaimenyi to give title deeds within 21 days to residents living in colonial era villages in the region. The beneficiaries are either aged freedom fighters or the families of deceased Mau Mau fighters.
His directive came barely two days after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chaired by Wafula Chebukati cleared him and his deputy William Ruto to defend their seats at the forthcoming General Election.
“I will be back after those three weeks to establish whether they have been issued. We cannot make promises which we are not fulfilling,” Uhuru said.
The President’s move to use the National Day function to campaign for Jubilee Party in the presence of his long-standing rival and National Super Alliance flagbearer Raila Odinga, who was roundly snubbed at the fete, elicited criticism from the opposition and the public on grounds it was against the spirit of the event.
The day after the fete, Uhuru gave the Nubian community residing in Kibra a title deed for 288 acres during a State House function wooing them for their vote.
The President, who demanded the community live with dignity, pride and prosperity, said, “You have lived in Kibra for many years without knowing whether you will continue living in your home the next day but that problem is now over.”
On June 3 during the official launch of his August campaign in Nakuru, the President announced that mothers who have delivered be given free National Hospital Insurance Fund services for a year to remain in good health together with the child.
Kisii and Nyamira counties, perceived to be NASA strongholds, are among beneficiaries of Uhuru’s dangled carrot as he makes interminable inroads. Last week, the Head of State gave out Sh358 million to Kisii integrated IDPs as compensation for the 2007-8 post-election violence.
Uhuru was accompanied by Kisii Jubilee Party candidates Senator Chris Obure, eyeing the governor seat, and Senate aspirant Charles Nyachae.
“With the money we have handed over, we have finally taken care of the last groups of IDPs in Kisii. We do not want politics that would create IDPs again. That should be a thing of history. We will never allow our nation to return to the violence that created this problem. No way,” he said.
He gave out Sh470 million to Nyamira IDPs, bringing the amount given to integrated internally displaced persons in the county to Sh828 million, according to a communication from State House.
Integrated IDPs hosted by relatives and friends during the post-election violence are to be compensated in at least 33 counties and critics have accused Uhuru of capitalizing on his in the ongoing campaigns to win voters.
“Our first priority was to resettle those who lived in IDP camps and we have succeeded in that. What we have started now is meant to bring to a close the issue of integrated IDPs in 33 counties, including Meru, Nyandarua, Vihiga, Kakamega, Kisumu and Migori,” the President said.
Seven Orange Democratic Movement MPs led by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi and Oburu Odinga (nominated) at a press conference at Parliament Buildings said the President is committing an electoral offence of voter bribery by luring voters in the guise of compensating IDPs to back his bid.
“This IDPs compensation scheme should be managed in a structured manner that does not warrant somebody who has been cleared to run as a candidate. As we speak, Uhuru is a mere presidential candidate, he cannot be roaming around with government cheques and issuing them to people under the guise of compensating IDPs, yet he is simply bribing voters,” Wandayi said.
The MPs warned that Uhuru could be challenged in court if he wins in the upcoming polls for allegedly violating the Election Laws.
“We have seen some MPs challenged in court after winning the elections for engaging in election malpractices during campaigns and anyone will go to court to challenge Uhuru,” Oburu said.
They also said the amount Uhuru gave the Kisii and Nyamira IDPs was “very little”, compared to what other IDPs in some regions such as Mt Kenya and Rift Valley received.
Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati said it is improper for Uhuru as JP’s presidential candidate to give out “last-minute goodies” barely two months to the polls, despite being the President.
“You cannot take advantage of the office to dish out money in search of votes, although according to the law, he remains President up to August 8 this year. Being in the office is the only advantage that he could be have to dish out money, but I am certain people have made up their minds on who to vote for in the election,” Arati said.
However, yesterday during his rally in Bungoma, President Uhuru chided the opposition and accused them of spreading lies after realizing that they are going to lose.
“Our opponents will remain where they are as the loyal opposition while Jubilee will continue to govern and transform the lives of Kenyans. We know that they are spreading propaganda against us. But will you believe in the lies or the facts on the ground, as reflected by the development projects implemented?” Uhuru said.
Last Thursday, the President and his deputy, during their Trans Nzoia campaign tour, issued 6,000 title deeds to Kitale residents and pledged that 120,000 more will be given within six weeks.
Uhuru told the beneficiaries that no one will pay a coin for stamp duty since his administration waived the more than Sh1.2 billion they would have been charged.
“We want to make sure that every Kenyan has a title for the land he or she owns,” he said.
President Uhuru has issued more than 2.8 million title deeds since he assumed power in 2013, with opposition’s Coast region stronghold being the biggest beneficiary.
Uhuru assured Trans Nzoia maize farmers that the price of fertiliser will drop to Sh1,200 from Sh1,500 from December, in readiness for the next planting season to boost food production.
He added that the prices of subsidised seed will fall to Sh120.
“We know that Trans Nzoia and the neighbouring counties are the breadbasket of Kenya. Besides lowering the prices of fertilizer, the new bull centre will also enable farmers to get artificial insemination (AI) for their cows to improve breeds to boost milk and meat production,” he said.