The Kenya Forum did not realise but apparently there are millions of Kenyans out there going about their daily lives thinking, “Come the next election I’m going to vote for presidential candidate who is ‘development conscious’, ‘open minded’ and of ‘high integrity’, and to hell with tribalism”. That’s according to the latest Infotrak Harris poll. No, we didn’t really believe it either.
The Infotrak Harris survey was based on the views expressed by 2,400 respondents, 18 per cent of whom said they wanted President Kibaki’s successor to be someone of ‘high integrity’. 17 per cent said they wanted someone who would be ‘development conscious’ and ‘open minded’, whilst 15 per cent said he or she should be ‘honest’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘transparent’ and ‘accountable’.
A whopping 10 per cent of those questioned said that they would value a president who was ‘non-tribal’. This response induced Ms Angela Ambitho, Infotrak’s Chief Executive Officer, to enthuse that it was a ‘pointer that Kenyans do not want the [presidential] hopefuls to be declaring that certain tribes or regions are their voting blocks’ (The Star, July 2).
Aside from the fact that as reported in The Star the survey results could be read to mean that 90 per cent of Kenyans don’t mind if their next president gets the job by appealing to tribal voting blocks, or indeed that 82 per cent do not care if he or she is not someone of ‘high integrity’, the Kenya Forum questions the validity and usefulness of this part of the Infotrak Harris poll (there is, however, a useful bit coming along in a few lines).
Are we really to believe that an old woman in Limuru, bent double with the weight of a heavy load of firewood on her back, struggles along the roadside thinking, “that’s what we need, a president who is development conscious”? Or that the young men waiting outside the entrance to a building site in the hope of work are discussing the need for ‘transparency’ on the part of the next elected leader of Kenya? The Forum doubts it.
ASK A SILLY QUESTION
The problem with any sort of survey is that the response received will depend on the question asked. Ask wananchi, “Would you like the next President of Kenya to someone who is honest?” they are hardly likely to answer, “Oh no, give us the most crooked candidate possible”.
IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID
The Infotrak Harris pollsters, however, redeemed themselves. In the same survey they asked people what they valued most for themselves. Responses were rated out of 10.
8.21 out of 10 said they wanted ‘material wealth’, 8.18 said ‘financial security’ and 8.18 identified ‘career success’. Yes, further down the ratings was ‘family life’ and ‘freedom’, but when left to themselves, Kenyans, like people all around the world, want jobs, wealth and financial security.
The next Kenyan election will in part be about the economy and economic expectation; and despite Ms Ambitho’s suggestion to the contrary – tribe and region.