George Saitoti: Presidential prospects in 2012 hang in the balance.
Provincial Administration and Internal Security Minister Presidential prospects in 2012 hang in the balance. As 2012 draws near, Professor George Saitoti, the Party of National Unity (PNU) Chairman is yet to come out openly.
Despite being the PNU Chairman, Professor Saitoti is yet to hold political rallies like his political competitors just to test the political waters and his popularity. Prime Minister Mr. Raila Odinga, Vice-President Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, Agriculture Minister Mr. William Ruto, Saboti MP Mr. Eugene Wamalwa and Gichugu MP Ms Martha Karua are already marketing themselves.
Born in 1945, Professor Saitoti was nominated to Parliament in 1983 and was appointed as Minister for Finance and Economic Planning by former President Daniel arap Moi.He is a graduate of Brandeis, Sussex and Warwick Universities.
A former University of Nairobi Mathematics don, he contested Kajiado North Parliamentary seat in 1988 general elections and won it. When Dr. Josephat Njuguna Karanja was hounded out of office in 1989, Professor Saitoti was chosen to replace him. However, he was not re-appointed as Vice-President after the 1997 general elections, but Moi announced his re-appointment later in 1999 at a roadside near Limuru.
On 18 March 2002, Professor Saitoti was removed as Kanu Vice-Chairman at Kasarani in Nairobi. He was also dismissed as Vice-President on 30 August 2002 by Moi for disloyalty. Thereafter he joined Kanu rebels who were opposed to Moi’s choice of Mr. Kenyatta as his successor and eventually formed the National Rainbow Alliance (NARC) with other opposition parties. He was re-elected and in 2003, he was appointed Minister for Education. Again in 2008, he was appointed Minister.
What is confusing is whether Saitoti would accept to play second-fiddle to other political heavy-weights come 2012. He is yet to rally his troops, leave alone consolidating his political base or forming a strong alliance or coalition. The two front-runners, Mr. Odinga and Mr. Kalonzo, have already charted their political path despite the challenges in the Kenya’s political landscape. However, we cannot consign him to political oblivion nor dismiss his presidential bid because Kenyans can only do so or determine his destiny.
Upon the enactment of the new constitution, a winning Presidential candidate has to garner more than half of the total votes cast and secure at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in more than 24 of the 47 counties. This would be a difficult task for any Presidential candidate in the country. Professor Saitoti has to take this into account.
It means he has to work extra-hard country-wide if his dream of grand march to Statehouse has to be realized. Otherwise, relying on one or two regions would be futile undertaking, taking into account the high degree of political education and the competitive nature of the Kenyan politics as witnessed in the 2007 general elections. An early starter always casts his fishing net wide and benefits most in the political process.