Running mate dilemma postponed but cost of living issues persist

April 28, 2022 - 5 minutes read

The camps of both leading presidential candidates put aside their rivalry this week to push a pliable electoral commission to extend the deadline for the submission of their running mates by 20 days. 

While the names of the candidates and their mates were originally scheduled to be submitted on the last Friday of April, they will now be sent to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission by May 16. 

Both Raila Odinga and William Ruto essentially face the same dilemma: how to accommodate the interests of the vote-rich Central Kenya region against the leadership of the groups from around the country whose leaders are in their camps. 

They both have, in Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, individuals with the name recognition and experience that were automatically assumed to be the running mates. 

Both were recruited into politics at a young age and have served as ministers and Vice President but they have not been named running mates speaks to the extent to which their political fortunes have dwindled over the last eight years of the Uhuru Kenyatta administration. 

While the candidates have more time, attention has been taken away from a growing issue – the increasing cost of living. 

This week, the International Monetary Fund warned that the surging prices of food and fuel may lead to social unrest in Africa, where economies yet to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been worsened by the effects of the war in Ukraine. 

“The war in Ukraine has triggered a sharp increase in energy and food prices that could undermine food security in the region, raise poverty rates, worsen income inequality, and possibly lead to social unrest,” the Fund said in its annual Regional Outlook for Africa.  

“The war compounds some of the region’s most pressing policy challenges, including the social and economic scarring effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, security risks in several countries, and the challenges posed by climate change.”

Kenya has also had to deal with a fuel shortage brought about by a combination of the delays in paying oil marketers their subsidy in time and the marketers’ apparently orchestrated delays in getting fuel from depots. 

Ahead of the General Election in 2017, officials in President Kenyatta’s administration foresaw trouble in the form of an increase in the price of maize meal and intervened by getting maize from the Strategic Grain Reserve and supplying commercial and small millers. 

Without real power in their hands, either Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto will probably have to try deal with the issue when they take over later in the year. 

The next big issue for the elected representatives in either camp is likely to be the Finance Bill, which Dr Ruto’s camp has already criticized as a set of bad proposals for the country. 

Whether MPs will take a break from their campaigns will be known when the Bill comes up for debate, though, but they will have tough decisions to make. 

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