By Gikonyo Kimani
Team Fresh is what Peter Kenneth’s campaign team has been referring to itself against Sonko’s Team Jubilee and Kidero’s incumbency. Kenneth’s entry into city politics, especially jubilee politics is quite a fresh breath of air. Nairobi Jubilee is dominated by two kind of politics, the Maina Kamanda ethnocentric type and the Sonko thug centric type.
In the Kamanda wing is an old network of former city council councillors that go back to the 1970s. They are a wealthy but highly conservative set of exclusively Kikuyu politicians and property owners who have now risen to MP status and control the city’s jubilee politics.
The Sonko thug centric politics are a recent phenomenon into the city politics that has risen with a new generation of the young in the city that s impressed more by appearances than by facts. These are the swag types who have generally arisen on the basis of what many believe to be the criminal underworld. Sonko himself has admitted to be the biggest thief in Nairobi before he joined politics. It is unlikely this has changed and all those who hang around him are generally known to be active in the criminal underworld.
Peter Kenneth is a fresh entry because he presents the sober face of Nairobi. He represents a milder more reasonable and urbane face of Nairobi. In many ways, Kenneth is the kind of face Nairobi would like to look in the mirror and see itself as. He is sober, suave and represents an opportunity for the middle and professional class to have an influence on Nairobi the previous regime of Maina Kamandas and the emerging Sonkos did not provide. Many had hoped Kidero would turn out to be this person but he has miserably failed the city by showing more concern for his political survival than any meaningful change for the city.
Peter Kenneth’s key teams however sadly fail the test of the Fresh proposition. Inside Kenneth’s secretariat are three teams. First one is composed of former city council councillors who came after the Kamandas and before the Sonkos and have generally fallen through the cracks of Nairobi politics. This includes his supposed running mate Linet Mirehane Odhiambo, a former Kawangware Councillor. The Luhya lady married to a Luo man makes an absurd choice for Peter Kenneth. She represents that class of politicians who can only be laundered back into politics because they cannot stand on their own and win any seat. Her ethnic background does not provide any value to Peter Kenneth because it is solidly ODM. Women are also not well respected as leaders within her community where she will hardly influence any votes for Kenneth. Coming from a time gone by, she clearly fails the Fresh Test.
Others here include Senator Candidate Mutinda Kavemba, a former Umoja Councillor. There are many others looking for a resuscitation of their past political life through Kenneth. The value they present is however highly questionable and will be a huge political liability when they face Kidero who will seek to portray Peter Kenneth as the Old City Council in new clothes.
The second team around Peter Kenneth’s campaign is that of his old friends from his football administration days. Here the most infamous face is that of the disgraced FKL Secretary General Titus Kasuve. Kasuve’s out of form appearance became the face of the worst of Kenyan football. His image evokes the worst for many Kenyans and is dispecable. He appears at several events seated close to Kenneth, clearly seeking media attention. Kasuve is a huge political liability to the optics of Peter Kenneth’s campaign who could singularly sink the Fresh credentials of the campaign. Kasuve not only fails the Fresh Test but urinates on it. There are many others but none can redeem the rot and decay Kasuve represents.
The last team is represented by The Old City Council Bureaucracy. The head of The campaign is a former head of planning at the City Council. He was at the helm at the worst time for Nairobi when the city collapsed into a huge slum. Under his watch, the last remaining public spaces were allocated and approved for private development leaving the city as one huge concrete slum. This group is a huge liability for Kenneth because all their dossiers are in the hands of Evans Kidero who will undoubtedly use them to malign his campaign.
It is clear Nairobi needs a fresh start and Kenneth is clearly the man for it. His teams and structure however fail the Fresh Test and provide a huge liability to the campaign which will be portrayed as the team that actually brought Nairobi down in the first place. This teams cannot provide any new ideas or face challenges in a new way. Peter Kenneth is clearly having a start that is anything but Fresh. His teams need new and young blood that can at least confirm the claim of a Fresh Start.