Who and what to watch out for in 2017
As the year begins, Kenyans wait with bated breath to see how a year that is bound to be significant in the history of the nation will play out.
The 2017 general election will be held in August and there are about three possible outcomes that terrify one group or the other: regime change or no regime change and a post-election violence.
Here is a short-list of what and who to watch out for in 2017:
The 2017 General Election
It will be on a Tuesday. August the 8th. This is a date that at least 22 million Kenyans have already marked down according to IEBC registered voter records. In preparation, politicians, since 2015, have turned the country into one big mass of emotions, furry and apprehension. Campaigns are in top-gear at the moment with the opposition and the government pulling all punches. The country has witnessed grand party launches, grand welcoming parties, grand gift bag pronouncements and most importantly grand betrayals. The coming elections will be watched keenly by the world. No one wants Kenya to go the Gambian way.
Justice David Maraga
Justice David Maraga is a man in a precarious position right now. All eyes, locally, regionally and internationally will be on him come August when Kenya goes to the polls. Going by the history of the past two general elections, his tray will be filled with election petitions from contestants challenging the results of the voting process. Of all these, the biggest one, should it be challenged, like in the 2013 elections, will be the Presidential elections. How he handles it will make or break the country.
Maraga also launched an anti-corruption court and said it is his new vehicle in fighting corruption. The special unit will not entertain adjournments and other forms monkey business that corrupt individuals pull in the courts. Kenyans will be watching keenly to see if this new unit has teeth or if it is just like one of the many that the country has had in the past that bark but can’t bite.
President Uhuru Kenyatta
The President is expected to defend his seat this year. A post that the opposition is working very hard to convince the country that he does not deserve to hold. The Jubilee party leader will face off against what appears (it is not conclusive yet) to be a united opposition front. He has the uphill task of defending the state of the economy, defending the state of security and addressing the gargantuan matter of government corruption.
CORD leader Raila Odinga
This is a make or break year for him.
CORD leader Raila Odinga hopes to be Mohammadu Buhari type lucky come August. Having given the presidency a go in the past, the official opposition leader is looking at perhaps his last opportunity at ascending to the highest office in the land. For him, this is one last shot.
Terrorism and road accidents dominated the news last year. In 2017, the police and other government security agencies are expected to have even more on their plate as the country goes to the ballot. There will be immense pressure on the police. It is their duty to keep the peace before and after the elections. Previous elections have unleashed police brutality on the public in levels that were shocking. The country hopes that the over 10,000 new police officers expected to graduate in 2017 will join the existing police force members to protect Kenyans rather than harm them.
Under the possible leadership of Lawyer Wafula Chibukati, who was nominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta to succeed Issaac Hassan, the IEBC will be in the eye of the storm in 2017. The electoral body is charged with delivering credible results in a highly contested election. The opposition has repeatedly called for a re-organization of the body following the ‘shambolic and near disastrous’ handling of the 2013 general election. Those calls have led to the nomination of Chibukati and the country will be waiting to see how the IEBC performs under him.
The Private Sector
2016 was a terrible year for the private sector. Charge it on the slow economic growth of the country. Several small and medium size companies ceased operations, large companies fired hundreds of their employees in efforts to realize profits or to cut down the cost of doing business and several others announced profit warnings towards the end of the year. Kenyans are keen to see what 2017 has in store for the private sector, hopefully, it will be a year of good tidings.