Reflections / Review of CORD campaign

Following the final step in the Presidential Elections on Saturday March -29 2013. i.e the ruling by the Supreme Court of Kenya in which the SCOK declared that Uhuru and Ruto were validly elected, it is now an excellent opportunity for us on this board to reflect and review on the campaigns carried out by CORD.

We need to capture the issues, challenges as well as successes, the changes that need to be made for future successes.

If you will this is a postmortem of the experience and notebook of lessons learnt, for posterity.

It is tempting to capture all the above buzzwords in one simple catch phrase – Kenyan’s vote along tribal lines , the large tribes rule – aptly captured by the ethnically divisive and renowned Politic strategist – Mutahi Ngunyi as “Tyranny of Numbers”, a script that was efficiently exploited to clinical precision by the Jubilee campaign team.

We in the CORD team however, went to great lengths to break away from this narrative. We are also pleased to not that at least 4 of the other candidates for presidency namely Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua, James Ole Kiyiapi and Abduba Diba, did also in their campaigns make a tremendous and concerted effort to warn Kenyans on the dangers of campaigns around ethnicity and in all their campaigns espouse ideals of a united Kenya. We thank these 4 candidates for remaining true to a Kenya for all.

It is not surprising now that the first statement after the ruling from President Elect Uhuru is requesting his supporters to now shun those reasons that separated the Jubilee supporters from the rest, and that to now adopt a more “unifying mantra”. To this I sadly say, its too late. One only needs to look at the hate and filth being spewed in social media to grasp the extent of ethnic hostility and bigotry that has arisen from this contest, which is simply an extension of the ethnic animosity created by the outgoing Kibaki regime. Am sure their chief ethnic strategist Mutahi Ngunyi will come up with some clever ploy to soothe and hoodwink the ever ready and gullible citizen.

But hey no this is not about attacking one side. So to be fair, to the other side kindly find an appropriate forum of your choosing where they will point out the evils of the CORD side and make informed decision. There are many out there so that is not my concern. Do eat your hearts content.

Meanwhile, back to the issue on hand.

We first want to characterise the experiences under three farily simplistic main categories:- The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good (not to be confused with the old Western by a guy known in my eastlands  neighborhood as Clindistu)

Of course an effective post-mortem must address itself to the various time periods before, during and after the various milestones in the processes. I therefore urge all agents, supporter and firm believers of True and Effective Change and Reform for Kenya, which is the fundamental thread that runs through ODM and recently CORD affiliated parties, to take a moment and away from the natural human heartache and pain associated with loosing a contest, and to internally reflect on the journey thus far, and to come back to table their individual or collective experiences and help us all move along as we face new and old challenges brought about by status quo winning by what appears to be a resounding and overwhelming majority.

We must ask ourselves are there so many Kenyans who would rather have status quo than change and reform? Is there more middle ground leaning towards status quo, or is it that the electoral process is still under lock and key of an old guard and therefore still heavily manipulated and skewed?

In my view we must consider the possibility that a significant number of Kenyans (that is besides the rabid support of either status quo or Reform) are possibly uncomfortable or remain largely either unconvinced or otherwise not impacted enough to want to consider a shift from status quo.

We must also investigate claims that our presidential candidates were surrounded and in some incidences blocked from accessing much needed true feedback from the grassroots in order to be more effective. Further, there are claims that some ODM ministers were too caught up in the trappings of power and completely failed to connect with their constituents or the public that they were meant to serve.

Some of these allegations may be true, some of them may just be people looking for an excuse to vent and someone to blame. In this post we want to capture the actual item/description of discontent or praise and then if necessary attribute to a person, event or institution, that way we avoid finger pointing and dwell on the actual pertinent issues. By comparing items from the list we can easily assess areas where our rivals were more superior or fared badly. And also determine which items had more impact on the electorate.

With that backdrop we will proceed to produce a list of items/experiences that played out in this period.  The list is not conclusive and you are encouraged to contribute as we build it up

In keeping with the tradition of IEBC and SCOK – the list will be coming up in the next several days – some of it will of course be doctored

Maintain peace and what not – the GSU has already been deployed to most blog pages as we speak – spread the message of peace and love as you wait for the list. 🙂

As per our commitment here is a provisional list of issues – all are invited to add or expound so that we can have a comprehensive list to review

21 comments on “Reflections / Review of CORD campaign

  1. How Raila campaign was bungled

    There is still the controversy between people who insist the victory for Raila was stolen and people who think it was lost because of own mistakes.
    Maybe the victory was stolen however did CORD do anything constructive to avoid the theft of the victory? Sarah Elderkin argues it was the job of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and not Raila or CORD to prevent poll rigging. This is a nice statement though we are living in Kenya and interpretations of job descriptions are extremely flexible.

    CORD did start complaining when the time for securing the victory had past. It is of little use to complain afterwards. There seems to be no strategy team in CORD. Everyone says something maybe rightly or wrongly though there is no coordination.
    Take the discontent with the verdict of the Supreme Court. All the ‘Evidence’ indicates to failures by the IEBC. If there is something that needs improvement then it is the IEBC though instead of putting the IEBC in the centre of critique everyone jumps on the Chief Justice. This is emotionally defendable though strategically hopeless wrong.
    The IEBC got away out of the storm of controversy. It silently disappeared and will be back in 4 years time unchanged or restructured ready for the next ‘they stole my victory’.

    CORD / ODM is a disorganised bunch of good willing people though it needs more than good willing to win and secure a victory.


  2. Every policcl campaign team makes mistakes during campaigns,i’m sure TNA made big mistakes too. Incidents that come to mind are Othaya,Nairobi gubernatorial nominations & more importantly dragging the nominations process for upto three days. With all that said, i think CORD conducted a good issue based campaigns without buying voters in a very short space of time. The biggest mistake on our part,in my opinion is, WE ALWAYS EXPECT THE OTHER SIDE TO PLAY FAIR! Up until the supreme court case,we expected fairness while the other side has always & will probably keep controlling government. CORD played to win while their biggest tactic was to PREVENT our win by all means. To deal with this problem i suggest a two point plan. 1. Nationwide civic education campaign to begin immediately and 2. Go the Ivory coast way- let the UN register,supervise & announce the next elections. After ascending to power we can start cleaning out the rot in Kenyan institutions.


  3. Raila, Kalonzo, Muthama, Wetangula, Ababu, Joho are some of the leaders who made CORD tick during the campaigns. I pay tribute to them for they are the heroes who led from the front and put up the greatest fight ever in a political arena. No one can take this away from them. Against all odds and in a short period they galvanized three quarters of the country to vote for and support CORD. Truth be told, the elections was about everyone else against CORD.

    Having said that, we must ask ourselves of whether the elections were rigged or not. I believe they were, never mind the fact that the most overrated professional in Kenya CJ willy Mutunga threw out most of the evidence on technicality. Truth of the matter is that the CJ and his gang of wazees never wanted to listen to the case. They were too lazy to analyze the enormous material hence the need to throw them out. This simply means that CORD has no chance on earth to come tops in the elections.
    • Fact: ODM is the largest single party in the country.
    • Fact: CORD has 43% of the voters behind it.
    • Fact: CORD has ¾ of Kenya landmass behind it.
    • Fact: CORD controls Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu. Not to mention large chunks of western province.
    • Fact: CORD is now the official opposition.

    As compared to Jubilee CORD had only two months to organize itself and this did not augur well. ODM and WIPER became partners only three or so months to elections as compared to Jubilee that had campaigned for almost 4 years.
    As far as registration is concerned, I think that many Cordashians did not register as well as they should have done. I don’t believe that people should be bribed or transported to register. They should do so because they believe in the process of voting. Local leaders but more especially IEBC must make sure that there is enough civic education. Kenyans feel betrayed by the IEBC which never did its job well even after spending billions of shillings.

    The CORD campaigns were very good. But I do believe that we started late and did not reach all parts of Kenya due to time constraints. CORD teams especially in WEP, Coast and Eastern were wonderful. They did a marvelous job.

    Then the IEBC messed up the tallying due to incopetency, corruption and fraud.
    The supreme court of Kenya is now a disgrace right from its now sychphantic leader and I must add incompetent and overrated CJ Willy Mutunga. They have done the greatest disservice to the nation and if Kenyans in future refuse to go to court again then it will be because what the courts did. In the face of overwhelming evidence they refused to do the right. The court is not that supreme afterall.
    What happened should serve a lesson for CORD. The alliance must start planning for the next elections now even as they deliver from the oppositions benches. There is nothing to say that one cannot do wonders even from the opposition.


    • Mzee,

      I agree wholly with everything you have penned down here as your observation. Moreso on Willy Mutunga, i simply can not believe that Mutunga and his court of Wazees could not utilize their legal minds and understand that even a single vote in an election with as many as 50 million votes if found to have been manipulated is a cause to render the entire process suspect, therefore bringing into question its fidelity.
      There are only two options i come with which appear plausible to explain this heart wretching verdict of this disgraced court of Mutunga.1) Mutunga and his cohorts were bribed and therefore got blinded to look elswhere where no evidence existed.
      2. The entire bench is bereft and composed of quacks whose minds are still seized with parochial and tribal interests to render justice to all kenyans equally in a fair and just manner.

      How can one find no fault nor irregularity when the retalling of votes showed clearly massive anomally on the 22 polling stations the court had picked on its own initiative? What else are kenyans left to think of when a useless verdict does not conform to natural law of justice and how are they expected to respect such a court? Let me stop here before i say things that some people might find unpalatable.


      • It is a futile exercise to keep blaming anyone or organisations outside CORD for losing the elections. Stop wasting emotional energy on the perceived unfairness of reality.

        Reality has to be recognised, acknowledged and accepted even when it is not fair. Goals can only be achieved if an effective way can be developed to deal with reality. Other as is perceived in religion; reality will not change by wishing, assume fairness or prayers.

        Some suggestions
        Next time a process could be developed to deal with all the real aspects of an election such as gathering information and prove of illegalities before and during the process,
        Have a legal team prepared to handle illegalities immediately at judiciary level (press releases of suspected illegalities are futile)
        Collecting first-hand election data such as voter registration, results (form 34?) at the source and use own IT supporting tools,
        Build a friendly relation with the IEBC to be aware and knowledgeable of the total voting process and obtain access to be heard for complains.
        Observe and gather information regarding the process of competing parties.
        Mobilise the supporters’ base and drag them to the polling stations for voter registration and voting.


      • jansinteur, I share your view. The numbers are there to defeat the two tribe coalition, but did CORD really work when it came to voter registration and voter turnout? If Raila or other CORD people want to be serious, then then must look at their organzing capability

        I think there was something very funny with the IEBC process and also I have my doubts about the Supreme Court ruling, but are we sure that CORD could have won round two?

        I share your view that blame is not the way to go, this country will still be here in 5 years just as it has been here for 5 years since th eterrible PEV, but those at the top of CORD must do some hard thing because what has been done has been done. This hard work must start now because there is no 100% guarantee that Jubilee coalition will last 5 years, first there can be fighing in Jubilee and also we don;t know where the ICC iusse will end.


      • Jan
        You completely mischaracterise the chaps on this forum when you say its negative emotional energy to “whine” about what has happenned.

        If you note carefuly, any member responding lists a specific flaw and how they personaly observed the flaw. Alongside that is listed possible associated circumstances or persons. It is from these that we can develop proper recovery procedures.

        The purpose of this thread is to actually list all these flaws whether perceived or actual, whether experienced in an emotional manner or factual is immaterial. what we need is an account of the events as they happened and then analyse for openly visible as well as for hidden facts and then know how to move forward.

        You will of course note that the flaws you list are already contained in one form or another in the master spreadsheet because these are events we have witnessed several times over since 1992.

        We will be moving to the suggestions and recommendations in a little bit. But you must also note that many of these were already in place, but there are some certain circumstances that were insurmountable at the time.

        Nevertheless we as agents for change are overcoming the obstacles one at a time. Some of these are subtle, but some are out there in the open. Some of these have even been hijacked by the very same opponents of change and have in fact become some of their policy, for that we are grateful even if they now claim to own them. As an example I would like to cite devolution. This was a taboo topic to most of Central province in the past, but now its actually part of Jubilee policy as stated by Uhuru (whether its implemented or not is a story for another day). Interestingly, the Rutos (all of them) that connived to throw it out in Naivasha to spite Raila a few years back, are now the flag bearers of devolved government. Sometimes one wants to laugh at the imbeciles but for now we shall call it political strategy. Mind boggling, and yet guys with brains still follow these guys around, go figure.

        I suggest we continue to expose these flaws all the time and not be scared of being labeled emotional, whiner and what not. If it wasn’t for the efforts of past emotional, whiners and what not, we would not be where we are today.

        Bring it on people, bring it on.


      • My comment is not intended to characterise the chaps on this forum. It is more an advice to acknowledge and accept what happened during the elections and the Supreme Court verdict. Maybe the same intention as you describe by taking inventory of the flaws in the process.

        The elections and the Supreme Court verdict can be for many an emotional near traumatic experience. Discussing the specific flaws is like going through the process again which can help to acknowledge the flaws as they were in reality. Next step is acceptance which opens ways to deal with these flaws in future.
        However such a process needs mediation. There is a danger that people lose the ability to distinguish between real and perceived flaws and alienate themselves from reality. As example; it is possible that people go to question the integrity of the Supreme Court ending up in distrusting all institutions and everyone.

        After all the talk of massive evidence of flaws we are suddenly left with radio silence except for comments by Raila. I feel we need to find the way back to reality. Someone should explain why the massive evidence did not lead to re-elections or run-off. The massive evidence should not be wished away though need to be placed within the circumstances of the moment. During the court case every party focused on their position but now the verdict is given we should go back to the whole picture.

        Maybe the pro and cons of re-election or run-off should be discussed. Currently people are left with trauma. There is pain, denial and alienation.

        Someone should lead us back to reality. The elections are over and there is no other way to effectively deal with its outcome as recognition, acknowledgement and acceptance. I think it is the responsibility of the same people who inspired us setting our hope and believe in victory to bring us back to reality.


  4. I accept, it is the sum of many things that went wrong. Mine was only one of many, I guess I was identifying what touched me personally during that period hence my comment may have appeared shallow.

    Does anyone know what the structure of the ODM campaign team was like? It may give me insights into how synergies and linkages were not harnessed from the well meaning volunteers all over who “believed” in the dream.

    Offcourse there is rumours flying around of interference by Odinga family members (Ida et al), but that is not proved. Any insiders with that info?


    • I do not believe CORD lost the elections, or that the petition lacked merit and was devoid of compelling evidence. I believe CORD lacked the ability to protect the vote, and allowed an opponent who controlled the levers of power (security, intelligence, admin) to use those to steal the vote.

      Trusting the IEBC and its new-fangled systems: BVR, EVID etc was calamitous for CORD. The lesson is that Kenya has not changed yet. We needed to verify everything. Double check and cross-check. Verily, these were not done.

      Further, even in the US where things work, you hire hundreds of lawyers to collect evidence just in case the matter ends up in court. In the event, the petition was squeezed for time and the legal team was overpowered by a prosecution strategy that flooded the defence with lawyers (IEBC, Itumbi, Ruto, Uhuru, Isaack all had lawyers to add to Githu Muigai who coordinated and orchestrated things from the background). This intimidated Mutunga and his bench of cowards.

      Finally, I think that there is no electoin soon, so this discussion needs to be placed in the hands of some long-term strategists and thinkers. Now CORD needs urgent thinking around how it can played defense in a system where it has been dealt a weak hand. When you are weaker you must rely on passion, logic, intelligence, and cunning. CORD. How will CORD operate? May be admin will think of such a discussion.


      • RR

        You are quite right in a number of assertions in your write up above

        Regarding your last para, yes we are heading in that direction i.e how do we move on for the next five or so years. To set the ball rolling we wanted to put closure on this election before embarking on that journey.

        However reading in the press today as the judiciary hosts Kibaki and pays tribute, as well as the ruling by the SCOK, one cannot help but smile mirthlessly at the almost tragic turn of events

        Lets take a quick walk back into memory lane

        January 2011

        NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said he is shocked and dismayed after President Mwai Kibaki made nominations to the post of Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions without due consultations as required.

        Mr Odinga who arrived from Addis Ababa on Saturday afternoon declared the nominations “null and void” as they did not comply with the Constitution. He said they had agreed to withhold the nominations until next week.

        He said the decision had caused a constitutional crisis and the Orange Democratic Movement would use legal means to ensure that the law was upheld.

        “We cannot as mature people say words that have no meaning,” he said and added: “If I had been consulted I am not a mad man to say I had not.”

        President Kibaki on Friday evening nominated Court of Appeal Judge Alnashir Visram to head Kenya’s judiciary. The President also named Professor Githu Muigai the next Attorney General, while lawyer Kioko Kilikumi is listed as the country’s new Director of Public Prosecutions.

        It is after this conflict in GCG like many times before that (and after) that we got the line up

        Chief Justice Willy Mutunga-Kamba
        Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza-Luhya
        Chief Registrar -Shollei-Kalenjin
        DPP-Keriako Tobiko-Maasai
        AG- Githu Muigai-Kikuyu
        Revenue Allocation-Micah Cheserem-Kalenjin
        Controller of Budget-Agnes Nangila Odhiambo-Luhya
        Auditor-General-Edward Ouko-Luo

        (The above list was lifted from a source desirous to demonstrate ethnic balance in revised state appointments after Raila’s intervention)

        And many others

        It is therefore not just irony but a revision of history and mockery of the same that Willy Mutunga can attribute or give credit to Kibaki for the reforms in the Judiciary. Needless to mention the obvious SCOK ruling could be misconstrued by a mischievous few as “Ahsante ya punda ni mateke” or is it “Ahsante ya ma-punda ni teke” (Titchaz sit down now 🙂 ).

        Anyway all in all, this country Kenya and its people who not only have short memories but can even reprogram read only memories is to say the last very fascinating.

        And with that the Blog-Admin takes a short vacation break


  5. @ Phil, I do not think the blame on ODM nominations is misplaced.

    I agree with you that some of the candidates are overrated and were not strong on the ground. But we cannot absolve ODM from the poor handling of the process and handing their opponents fodder to use against them. 2007 was no different in terms of ODM nominations, but they got away with lots and PNU did not exploit it as much.

    I refer back to my statement on poor comments and wrong public posturing by the insiders like Jakoyo who let it be known to the world that they had preferred candidates. While this is a fact with all parties that there are preferred candidates, political tact and wisdom requires that you do not verbalize such thoughts to the entire world but deal with it as an in-house strategy. You give fodder to your opponents especially when you are supposed to appear to espouse principals of democracy. Political naivete it may have been.

    Pre-negotiations is also used by other parties, I wonder why ODM did not do the same. Some of those candidates making noise were non-starters and would have stepped aside immediately ODM secretariat talked to them behind closed doors.

    Nyanza did not rebel against Raila or ODM, but to allow the ugly scenes and sentiments get out of hand (however small they may have been in the scheme of things) handed opponents and neutrals poor perception of ODM.

    Perceptions, however true or false they may be, unfortunately carry the day in politics.


    • Sorry to digress….but where is Job? He has been MIA for a long time time. I really hope that he is well. Also Adongo…havent read from him since the Lame SCOK ruling


    • Center13

      I think your point is covered in one of the items in the spreadsheet.

      The way we should go about this is assign a magnitude of importance per each of the items. Anecdotal evidence citing specific instances (persons involved, exact circumstances etc) is useful for jogging the memory but does not lessen, amplify or otherwise add value to the resolutions. It only stokes fires, bruises or inflates egos but mostly achieves little, when moving forward. But we get your point loud and clear.

      We cannot really police the kind of comments or how someone articulates an issue. That is an individual style/characteristic, and it is that which endears him/her to some while alienates others. As a party what we need emphasis on is the core values (what we desire vs what we do not). Delivery is up to the individual. That is how they win or lose the nominations and/or elections.

      Also remember some of those “impositions” are also perceptions created by weak candidates to either gain sympathy or topple strong rivals. There was a lot of that all over and picking on one area is not something that we will agree on. Even in Nyeri there were such claims.

      I think overall we will gain and move further if we articulate the issues rather than persons/personalities, but that is just my view.


  6. Good start. Criticism where it is due and identifying where the issues are. CORD followers were disappointed with the obvious weak strategy employed by CORD. Poorly coordinated messaging and silly arrogance by loose mouths like Jakoyo Midiwo who alienated more supporters with his “Oburu is governor of Siaya, defect to other parties if you do not like that” type of comments.

    To follow Obama’s success strategy, ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR BASE IS SOLID!!. Once Nyanza was disgruntled after nominations, spreading the message of Raila for president was always going to be difficult accept by the neutrals.

    And do not to forget Raila, what was that about his brother and sister for Governor seats? Very naive of him to think it would not affect him negatively despite their right to do so.


    • Center13

      There is something called constructive criticism, and then there is sheer foolishness. Your comments above belong in the latter category. This election wasn’t about Raila’s brother, sister or the disgruntled people from Nyanza. It was about more than 5 million people who stood in lines all day to make their votes count only to have a system that was supposed to be fool proof fail. That would be a good place for you to start.


      • You are entitled to your own opinion moesha. I have a different view, while the IEBC played a role in collapsed systems and others, I personally think it would be naive to think that there was no CORD contribution to the ultimate result.

        I identify Nyanza as part of the problem because of the glaring discontent from Nyanza during the CORD nominations. I do not recall any other CORD constituency (5 million plus) as disgruntled by the nominations in the scale that Nyanza was. Please correct me if I am wrong.

        You may think it “sheer foolishness”, I think not. Please desist from mentioning words like “foolishness” in your response and attack my arguments or you may come off as a shallow adolescent. Ruthless honesty and facing the real issues is the only way to improve and take out from the experience and it is a process where there is no one answer but many small incidents contributing to the whole. I identified one, you also identified another. I am sure there are many more from other different view points.

        Hiding ones heads in the sand and not facing ‘uncomfortable truths’ will only lead to repeating of the same mistakes.


        • This idea of blaming ODM for shambolic nominations is grossly misplaced. Most, if not all, candidates who defected to other parties eventually lost in the main election, leading them of course, the overrated Siaya County governor wannabe William Oduol.

          At least ODM conducted most widespread nomination nationally, and the eventual results of the general elections prove this since the party actually bagged the most seats nationally as a single entity.

          And this is amidst infiltration by state agents working to sabotage it from within, massive propaganda, media blackout and of course turning the election into a referendum on ICC.

          But perhaps many did not notice that efforts to influence this election were put in place long before polling day itself; IEBC was partisan and an active participant in ensuring an Uhuru win and so was President Kibaki and the state machinery at his disposal.

          The so called Nyanza rebellion is figment of anyone’s imagination. A closer analysis reveals the IEBC failed to conduct sufficient voter civic education as required by law. IEBC made this worse by giving a limited voter registration period (during trial we learnt they secretely re-opened it for ‘special’ cases) and these were further compounded by millions of qualified voters missing ID cards due to deliberate redtape tactics employed by Muthaura whilst at Office of the President, etc etc.

          Am not in anyway defending the CORD campaign. It could have been better. But no candidate would have achieved the votes CORD did in this election against what the state had prepared for Uhuru and Jubilee.


      • Strongly urge/recommend that members desist from attacking each other on this forum.

        We do however acknowledge we have been through a troubling period

        Lets focus on the underlying argument(s) behind every post.


    • Center13

      You are right about the personal attacks, it was unnecessary on my part, my apologies. You are entitled to your opinion. Its never really good to comment when emotions are still high, and your comment at first glance seemed like an attack on the people of Nyanza.

      I still don’t think that the disorganized nominations had much effect on Raila’s chances, those were local politics, his base remained as solid as it gets. Jubilee had the same issues all over the place, a major right in the presidents back yard…… Othaya. Those didn’t get as much media attention as CORD got.

      I am not eliminating CORD from fault but I personally think its a sum of many things that went wrong as per blog admin above. Biggest one I think was registering people to vote. TNA beat CORD hands down when it came to registering voters and making sure they actually showed up to vote. People were being picked up and taken to polling stations.The think tanks didn’t do their home work well. There is just a lot more to this than what you stated, but then again, that is my opinion.


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