Last week Senator Moses Wetangula stated that crowds do not translate into votes. I thought he was just repeating what is obvious. However the reactions from ODM supporters especially, and the publicity the statement attracted made me realize that this statement is profound, at least to some of us.
So let me explain why what he said is pure common sense.
Building up a campaign crowd is a relatively easy thing to do. You go to your stronghold and identify 10 local opinion leaders (usually serving or local councilors/MCAs). Each then helps you identify 5 other people who are able to bring together groups of people. The 60 are then tasked to mobilize 100 people. In short order you have mobilized 6,000 people. If you need to transport all or part of them across counties 100 60-seater buses will easily move the 6,000 people wherever you need them to be.
In this time and age mobilizing people for a 4-hour rally can cost as little as 100/- per person depending on where you are; the further from Nairobi the cheaper it gets. The total mobilization cost will therefore be 1000/- for each of the first group of 10 people; 500/- each for the second group of 50; and 100/- for the final 6000. Then add 10,000 per bus for 100 buses.
This means that at the very low cost of 1,635,000/-; which is really peanuts for any national politician worth his salt; one can easily move a crowd of 6,000 people from a place like Nyanza, to Kakamega; for instance. In fact you can even maintain the contacts of this entire group of 6,000 and use them wherever and whenever you want. 6,000 will always look very large anywhere you are. In addition a crowd of 6,000 paid people will usually easily attract another one to three thousand local bystanders depending on the day and time. This means you can easily raise crowds of 8,000-10,000 people wherever you need it.
However there is one more trick. You must identify the right location. The space must look large, but structured in a way that the crowd is pushed into a specific place. This is why Uhuru Park in Nairobi is so popular. 8,000 people then end up looking squeezed. Add a smart camera man who knows how to play around with angles and this crowd ends up looking like 50,000 or 100,000 people! (Yes … this is how politicians do it).
But these tricks do not work at the ballot. It is impossible to transport one group of 6,000 people around to different counties to vote. It is also not possible to ‘magnify’ votes using camera tricks. This is what ‘Weta’ is talking about.
Unfortunately ODM supporters do not know this. This lack of understanding is the basis from which they always claim that Raila Odinga wins elections and they are stolen. They cannot understand why a man able to attract such ‘large’ crowds never wins elections. Well, I hope now they know how such crowds can be created. I also hope they finally understand why these crowds do not translate into votes.
I have read the report by Human Rights Watch on extra-judicial killings of terror suspects. I accept that we have a few rogue elements in the security forces. But this happens in any profession in the world. What I have a problem with are the attempts by HRW to destroy the morale of the Kenyan security agencies in their fight against terror. Terrorists do not use conventional means when they attack innocents; whether in Kenya, France, Germany or anywhere else in the world. Kenyans just want these terrorists stopped. Period.
Opinion by: Ngunjiri Wambugu