Tuesday, September 9, 2008



September 9, 2008
By Alex Ndegwa
The Standard

A majority of Kenyans approve of the leadership demonstrated by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in steering the coalition government, according to a new poll.

But the survey by US pollster, Gallup, shows the Prime Minister enjoys a 22-percentage point lead over the President in approval ratings.

An overwhelming 85 per cent of those polled approve of Raila’s leadership compared to 63 per cent — or six in every 10 Kenyans — for President Kibaki, according to the poll on The Grand Coalition Government.

In a further show of confidence in the Premier, three in every four Kenyans believe the creation of the position of Prime Minister will have a positive effect on the everyday life of wananchi.

Overall, the survey shows Kenyans have faith in the Grand Coalition Government, with 63 per cent of those polled approving of the performance of the Cabinet.

More than half of those polled (57 per cent) believe Raila won the disputed presidential election while a quarter (25 per cent) say Kibaki won re-election.

Slightly over half of the respondents (52 per cent) say the most pressing issue for the Government is to fix the economy by tackling poverty, inflation, unemployment and creating jobs.

Parliament — an institution that has been previously condemned for lethargy — won rare praise from the public, with two thirds of Kenyans — or 67 per cent — expressing satisfaction with the way it was handling its job.

MPs have recently kept the Executive on its toes, as was the case with the recent censure Motion against Finance minister Amos Kimunya, who was forced to step aside over his role in the dubious sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.


Mr Robert Tortora, Gallup’s regional research director for sub-Saharan Africa, released the findings of the survey, conducted between June 19 and July 9 among 2,200respondents across the country’s eight provinces.

National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende, United States Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, Head of the UN mission in Nairobi Anna Tibaijuka and the Standard Group Managing Director Paul Wanyagah attended the ceremony.

Over a third of the respondents (36 per cent) did not approve of President Kibaki’s leadership while only 13 per cent were dissatisfied with Raila.

The approval ratings varied across the eight provinces and each leader received highest ratings in regions where they enjoyed bedrock support in the last General Election.

However, while Raila’s lowest rating was 59 per cent recorded in Central Province, Kibaki’s leadership ratings fell below 50 per cent in four provinces.

The pattern is replicated elsewhere but Raila enjoys 66 per cent support among the Kikuyu and Meru (79 per cent), respectively.

Over half of Kenyans (56 per cent) are optimistic the Grand Coalition Government will hold until the next presidential elections scheduled for 2012.

"Tackling inflation and unemployment are long-term issues that cannot be resolved overnight. Kenyans seem to appreciate this and want the coalition to hold long enough," Tortora said.

But nearly a quarter (24 per cent) are skeptical it will last more than one year and gave varied reasons to underscore the apathy.

The biggest obstacle is lack of political will to implement reforms (33 per cent), ethnic divisions within government (30 per cent) and mistrust between the two principals (27 per cent).

According to the survey, Kenyans are split on the raging amnesty debate, with a slight majority (51 per cent) demanding pardon for those in custody over the post-election violence.

Call for amnesty

Of these, 28 per cent say they should be released without trial while 23 per cent wants them prosecuted and given amnesty, if found guilty.

But 48 per cent say they should be prosecuted and punished if found guilty.

In a boost to ongoing reconciliation efforts, 82 per cent or eight in every 10 Kenyans stated they could coexist peacefully with all Kenyans regardless of their ethnicity.

Nearly half of Kenyans (45 per cent) believe the post-election violence was caused by inequitable political power while a third (33 per cent) blamed the upheaval on skewed access to land.

The credibility of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, which is accused of bungling last year’s elections, plummeted further with less than one in every four Kenyans (24 per cent) expressing confidence in ECK.

Two thirds of Kenyans (68 per cent) blame the ECK for the post-election violence, in what is likely to re-ignite calls for its disbandment.