Fri, August 19, 2022

international

Kenya presidential wildcard vows to erase debt with 'ganja solution'


Sexagenarian reggae aficionado and presidential candidate George Wajackoyah is convinced he has the recipe to solve the worries bedevilling Kenya's voters: a dollop of marijuana and some hyena testicles.

East Africa's wealthiest nation is holding elections on August 9. A tight race between the two leading presidential candidates - veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto - has thrust a spotlight on Wajackoyah's small but committed band of followers, who could force a run-off if neither side gets more than 50% of the vote.

Voter registration among young people has dipped dramatically, with many saying conventional politicians have failed to tackle rampant corruption, runaway inflation or joblessness.

Wajackoyah's bid for the presidency has caught the imagination of younger voters and the grave-digger-turned-adjunct-law-professor is trailing a distant third in the polls at around 2%.

His shoestring campaign promised to wipe out Kenya's $70 billion debt by establishing a medical cannabis industry and exporting animal parts to China.

The Kenyan media's infatuation with colourful Wajackoyah, a well-known figure from Nairobi's club scene, has provoked speculation that he is backed by a bigger campaign in a bid to try to peel away some of the youth vote - a prospect he airily dismisses.

Many candidates have offered him cash for support, he said, but he has turned them all down. Instead, he said he dreams of lighting up in the president's office.

The 62-year-old candidate referred to his mobile to recall the other points on his manifesto, which veer from federalising government and renegotiating the country's debts with China, to hanging the corrupt and throwing out Chinese nationals.

"We've come in with the ganja solution," he said.

By his latest count, Wajackoyah said he has picked up 14 law degrees and certificates from England, where he fled as a refugee, the United States, where he met his wife, and back in Kenya where he runs a law firm specialising in migration.

Getting elected in Kenya is an expensive business, costing an estimated $31,000 to sit on a county assembly, up to $390,000 to sit in the Senate, according to a study by the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nairobi.

With no budget, his rallies consist of arriving at markets unannounced, popping his head through the sunroof to blaring reggae music, and making his pitch to startled onlookers.

With six days to go until the election, Wajackoyah’s small convoy rolled into Gatundu, around 30 north of the capital Nairobi. A smiling crowd of around 400 quickly gathered, waving smartphones and jostling for selfies.

"Every election cycle everybody just comes here with their propaganda," said Jeff Mwangi, a labourer. "If this man can do what he's actually saying... we will go very far as a country."

 

 

 

Published : August 05, 2022

By : Reuters