Candidates resort to dirty tricks, mudslinging as poll date draws near

 

With just weeks to the August polls, candidates have resorted to sabotage, mudslinging, twisting of slogans, and negative propaganda in a last-ditch attempt to have the winning edge.

The dirty tricks involve sponsored, malicious adverts and fabrication of campaign materials to depict rivals negatively before the electorate.

Candidates have in the past stage-managed their own kidnapping to win sympathy votes. Some of these tricks are either the handiwork of the candidates themselves or their supporters.

In the presidential race pitting Jubilee candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and the National Super Alliance’s (NASA) Raila Odinga, a vicious propaganda campaign is being unleashed online.

Words twisted

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One such toxic piece of misinformation is a simplistic 90-minute video advert published online warning Kenyans against electing Raila and claiming that this would plunge the country into violence.

Meru Woman Representative Florence Kajuju had petitioned the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC) to punish her opponent, Kawira Mwangaza, for using a TV station owned by her mother and sister to twist her campaign messages.

Kajuju told IEBC’s Electoral Code of Conduct Enforcement Committee that the station had twisted her words to imply that she derogatorily described the cabbages Mwangaza distributed in her campaigns as tasteless and that women who consumed them would be tasteless as well.

In Machakos, Governor Alfred Mutua and Wiper candidate Wavinya Ndeti are engaged in nasty campaign propaganda.

Ms Ndeti’s slogan of ‘Andu Maitu’ (our people first) has been reportedly twisted by Dr Mutua’s camp to mean she is planning to evict non-locals should she be elected.

It is on this basis that Dr Mutua wrote to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, to investigate Wavinya.

“I would like to request you to join me in reassuring non-Machakos Kenyans working and residing in Machakos County that the plan by Ms Ndeti to evacuate them is not only unlawful but also it will not be tolerated at any time. It is against national and international laws to internally displace people for political or any other gain,” reads the letter written to the Deputy Inspector General and copied to Ms Bensouda.

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Dr Mutua’s letter was in response to Ndeti claims that the Maendeleo Chap Chap candidate was plotting to raze the county government offices to thwart criminal investigations on alleged corruption.

In Kiambu, Governor William Kabogo is said to have lost the Jubilee primaries to Ferdinand Waititu through what the incumbent termed outright propaganda.

Mr Kabogo’s loss was linked to alleged use of derogative language against women, especially single mothers.

Witchcraft accusations But the governor has on several occasions challenged his accusers to produce any audio or visual of him making such remarks.

Kabogo was further accused of referring to Mr Waititu as ‘wakahare’ (a dirty and crafty animal). Deputy President William Ruto, while in Kiambu, has been referring to Waititu as ‘wakahare’ as a means of sustaining the propaganda against Kabogo.

Kabogo has also denied claims that he indirectly likened Waitutu’s win to witchcraft.

And in a case before the IEBC, Laikipia governorship independent candidate Ndiritu Muriithi is accusing Governor Joshua Irungu of fabricating pictures that portray him negatively.

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“I wish to register my complaint against the Hon Joshua Wakahora Irungu and his supporters for attempting to confuse voters and defaming me or otherwise lowering my estimation in the eyes of the residents of Laikipia County by fabricating photographs and juxtaposing my image in cropped newspaper cuttings which are published and circulated on WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social media political forums,” said Muriithi in a sworn affidavit.

On the eve of the ODM primaries in Busia, Funyula MP Paul Otuoma’s image was photoshopped on a fake front page of a local daily under the headline ‘Otuoma defects to Jubilee’.

A fortnight ago, when President Uhuru visited Kisumu County, Governor Jack Ranguma, who is defending his seat as an independent candidate, issued a statement fighting off claims that he had held a meeting with Uhuru.

Kisumu is one of Raila’s strongholds and any remote association with Jubilee can be costly.

In the run up to party primaries, some candidates were kidnapped in a trend that raises doubt whether they were real or stage-managed.

Charles Chege alias Chege, who lost in the Jubilee primaries, was kidnapped days to the high-stake nominations.

In his first attempt in politics in the 1997 elections, Uhuru lost the Gatundu parliamentary seat contest after individuals who were against his candidature hatched a plot that saw them stage-manage the kidnapping of Moses Muhia, Uhuru’s opponent in the race.

The plotters would then leak information to the media for quick circulation, effectively eliciting protests among voters who insisted they would vote for the kidnapped candidate regardless of his condition.

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