The 2022 general elections in Kenya which took place on Aug. 9, 2022, was generally peaceful. It was the third election under the new constitution promulgated in 2010. Interestingly, the Kenya elections 2022 had the lowest voter turnout ever recorded in the country.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson, Wafula Chebukati, said the voter turnout was 64.6 percent during a press release held on Aug. 10, 2022.
However, Chebukati was optimistic that the turnout might improve once the number of manual voters is compiled and incorporated into the total figure. Out of the 22,120,448 total registered voters, only 14,164,561 participated in the Kenya elections 2022.
After close to a week of vote counting, William Ruto was announced the winner of Kenya elections 2022. While many jubilated, there are indications that the Raila Odinga camp may head to court to contest the result.
Kenyans’ cry for change
This year’s elections came at a time when Kenyans are facing myriads of challenges, not only in the country but globally. COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, led to the closure of many small and medium businesses which affected the common citizens. Many of such businesses never bounced back after the pandemic.
Similarly, the Russia-Ukraine war has also negatively affected the economy of the country leading to high costs of oil and foodstuffs. Generally, there is a large dissatisfaction with the government due to the high rate of unemployment.
Although the fact that the challenges are global, the Kenyan electorate believes the government did not manage both crises properly. Politicians seeking electoral positions used the unfortunate situation to poke holes in the leadership of the outgoing government.
Why William Ruto won the Kenya elections 2022
It was a keenly contested election and everyone knew that the winner will emerge with a slim margin. The current vice president William Ruto emerged as the winner against all odds. He garnered 7,176,141 million votes or 50.49 percent of the total votes cast. His close rival, Raila Odinga garnered 6,942,930 million votes (48.85 percent).
To be declared the president-elect a candidate must receive 25 percent of votes cast in at least 24 counties. He or she must also acquire 50 percent plus one vote of the total valid votes cast. In his acceptance speech, Ruto said, “gratitude goes to millions of Kenyans who refused to be boxed into tribal cocoons.”
The other forefront presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, is a prominent opposition leader. Also, he is a popular figure on the ballot paper, having contested and lost the presidential elections four times in 1997, 2007, 2013, and 2017. The current defeat adds to his long trail to secure the number one job in the nation. So, what edge did Ruto have over him?
He is an eloquent spokesman
As the current deputy president, Ruto had a good grasp of the current government’s operations. This gave him an upper hand as he only exploited the weaknesses that were there to gain political mileage. He packaged his campaign plan with straightforward hard criticism backed by current scenarios.
The 2007 post-election peace pact
The 2007/2008 post-election violence was one of the worst to have hit Kenya as a country. The occurrences led to Ruto and the outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial at the ICC (International Criminal Court), Hague. However, the two shook hands during the 2013 elections campaigns as they teamed up to vie for the presidency.
This reaffirmed Ruto’s patriotism in the eyes of the Kenyan people. Also, he continues to promise peace even after the Kenya elections 2022, regardless of who becomes the next president. In his acceptance speech he made it clear that he will not be going after anyone that hurt him.
He had ample time to market his manifesto
Ruto had ample time to market his bottom-up economic model to Kenyans. As the deputy president, he took advantage of his network and influence to market his manifesto way before the onset of the campaign period.
The electorate had heard a lot of what he had planned to do for them once he becomes the president. Consequently, they voted for him in large numbers.
Expectations for the new president
The greatest expectation in Ruto’s governance is the full implementation of the bottom-up economic model that he promised Kenyans. The model augured well with the electorate as it highlighted their sufferings in a relatable way.
It seeks to address the high level of unemployment among the youth, skyrocketing prices of food, and poor or costly health care services. His governance plan launched on June 30, 2022, also dubbed ‘hustlers’ manifesto’, has six pillars namely:
- Improved housing
- Food security through improved agriculture
- Supporting the establishment of small and medium enterprises
- Accessible and affordable health services
- Improved ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and creative economy
- Climate and environmental change adaptation
African presidents are usually good at making sensational promises to gain votes. However, they often fail to deliver on their promise once they get into power. Kenyans will be holding the scorecard to see how many of Ruto’s campaign promises will be implemented.
How Kenyans are reacting on social media
Following the declaration of William Ruto as the winner of the Kenya elections 2022, many Kenyans took to social media to air their views. The majority of the comments expressed satisfaction with the result.
However, rather than the routine congratulations, some explained what Ruto’s victory meant for the nation.
Others decided to focus on the record number of times that the other presidential hopeful has lost the elections.
There is another group that is grateful for the peaceful nature of the Kenya elections 2022 and calls it a win for ordinary citizens.
What other African countries can learn from Kenya elections 2022
In many African countries, votes continue to be divided across religious and tribal lines. However, Kenya elections 2022 is a challenge to other African countries to make elections issues-based rather than dwelling on religion and ethnicity which has kept several countries on the continent in the shadows.
African leaders should learn to craft their manifesto around the pertinent issues facing their countries. Also, the voters should learn to vote for the right person rather than on petty sentiments around religion and tribal lines. Africa can be great again, and it starts with choosing the right leaders.