By Wisdom Mumera

After five attempts Kenya’s veteran opposition politician Raila Odinga last year failed to win against former Vice President William Ruto.

His post-election discourse was the same.

I was rigged and will contest the results in the courts. That didn’t work either.

At 77 years it appears that Odinga may have reached the nether end of his political life.

However, what is striking is how another politician, this side of the African continent is morphing into the same Odinga style.

Nelson Chamisa has already lost two elections, 2018 and 2023, as the leader of the opposition.

In both elections he came narrowly close and alleged rigging as the reason, the same cards employed by Odinga.

A Support Base That Sold Out

For decades Odinga has relied heavily on the populations of his fellow Luo ethnic voters around Lake Victoria.

However, in the last election the same people were one of the biggest reasons why he lost.

Over 600 000 registered voters failed or refused to participate in the elections.

Resultantly, Odinga lost to Ruto by a mere 233 000 votes.

The same predicament, or its equivalent befell Chamisa, who was depending on the huge youth demography in the country.

Out of the 6.5 million registered voters in the 2023 elections, 10 percent were first time voters.

Of the over 15 million people in the country around 67 percent  are also youths.

They were expected to provide the decisive and most likely opposition inclined vote.

“We are very much impressed by the participation of younger people in our party and our country’s politics,” CCC deputy spokesperson Gift Siziba said.

However, in reality the 2023 elections culminated in both the lowest recorded youth participation and registered figures.

The youths literally abandoned Chamisa and he couldn’t make it over the line.

Growing Dissatisfaction

One of the main issues Odinga was accused of by former supporters was how his party endorsed wealthy party cronies and his own relatives for seats Parliament and country assembly.

This was done against those many felt actually deserved of those posts.

The implicit accusation was that the veteran opposition leader had succumbed to the same corrupt practices of old politics which they sought to dislodge.

The same happened with Chamisa as his 4 stage candidate selection process came under fire for its vagueness and lack of transparency.

Spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere’s explanation of the process brought no new clarity.

“Following nomination there is going to be a vetting process and the fact that one has been nominated is not the end of the situation.

“It doesn’t mean that you are yet eligible to be a candidate.”

They were accusations of imposition of candidates, logistical challenges and downright confusion.

Chamisa was also accused of imposing his relatives such as Emmanuel Chikaponya, a nephew, who was Norton Town Council Vice Chairperson before he was recalled by Tshabangu.

Blowback from that has surfaced through the Sengezo Tshabangu saga.

They have used the imposition of candidates in Matebeleland as a cover for the ultimate coup.

The Scourge of Independent Candidates

During primary elections, Odinga’s party was marred by allegations of corruption, rigging and bullying.

All this marred the internal process, such that those who felt cheated resorted contested as independent candidates in the elections.

The same happened with Chamisa’s CCC.

Therre was a proliferation of independent candidates across the country and even double candidates in some cases.

One of the prominent cases involved lawyer Freddy Masarirevhu who contended that he had won the internal process and had his paper duly signed by officials.

Speaking about Odinga Nic Cheeseman, a professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham, delivered a verdict that equally applies to Chamisa today.

“The claim to be a kind of pro-democratic opposition leader promoting change was undermined by not being able to organize his own party in a democratic way.”

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