With eight days to go before Kenya’s general elections, the mixed results of the latest polls are generating controversy and intense debate. In the latest polls by the United States- based Gallup suggests incumbent President Mwai Kibaki has taken the lead from leading opposition candidate Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). On the other hand, Steadman, which is locally based, has Odinga maintaining the lead, which he has been enjoying over Kibaki.
Some political observers, however, believe the controversy surrounding the latest polls could heighten what they describe as unnecessary tension and violence ahead of the general elections. Mustapha Ali is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey the polls are confusing.
“The latest poll, particularly the one released today seems to be conflicting with other polls that one of the leading media group published over the weekend. But it’s not true that one of the opinion polls is giving Kibaki a lead. What it has done is to show that the gap between Raila Odinga, the frontrunner at the moment and the incumbent Mwai Kibaki, the gap has narrowed down considerably,” Ali pointed out.
He reckoned that some Kenyans are unhappy with reports that President Kibaki’s cabinet ministers are using state machinery to campaign for him to the detriment of his opposition opponents.
“There was a report that was released yesterday that actually some ministers, including some parastatals, have actually been using government funds and equipment including vehicles to campaign for President Kibaki and his National Party of Unity (PNU). Kenyans are very angry at this and what they are saying is that these are the same people who in 2002 said that the then ruling KANU (Kenya African National Union) party should not use public funds to campaign. Yet they are doing the same this time. So they are saying why is it right that the government ministers can now use public money. And by the way it’s a lot of funds that are being used up to 120 million shillings and that translates to about $2 million,” he said.
Ali said it was unfortunate that cabinet ministers are using public funds during the campaign.
“It’s very easy to draw the line. When most of these government ministers, their duties at this point in time are actually confined to Nairobi. But when you find government ministers using military choppers going all the way to far land areas like northeastern Kenya with a distance more than 1000 kilometers away using police, vehicles, military aircraft to go and campaign, then you must wonder is that a government job that they are doing,” Ali asked.
He said there is an ongoing investigation about the allegations of government use of public funds during the campaign.
“By the way, the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission here is putting these and is taking pictures. And all these are actually being documented, and the pictures are there,” he noted.