After an election in 2007 that descended into chaos the eyes of the world were on Kenya in 2013. In one of Africa’s most influential and important nations, democracy would be tested as never before. Uhuru Kenyatta, the former finance minister and deputy prime minister, first assembled a new political party - then formed a new coalition. Yet observers questioned whether scepticism amongst the Kenyan electorate – and a court case abroad – would halt Kenyatta’s quest to take State House.
Challenge When we were first appointed Kenyatta was trailing by 16% behind in the polls and had just been indicted at the International Criminal Court. Our task was three-fold: (I) develop a compelling political narrative that would allow him to build an electoral majority; (II) explain the true circumstances on the ground to a confused and sceptical international media; and (III) help establish and manage a modern political campaign machine.
"The team that made Uhuru Kenyatta” ~ The Star Newspaper
Work Our full-time team of consultants, embedded on the ground with the campaign, helped to develop a set of messages that turned Kenyatta´s image around. By exposing the weak and flawed nature of the ICC case against him, we made the election a choice about whether Kenyans would decide their own future or have it dictated to them by others. We demonstrated that only Kenyatta understood the concerns of ordinary Kenyans and would defend Kenyan values.
"Kenyatta’s highly effective lobbyists” ~ Africa Intelligence
Our international media work helped shift global coverage of the election. We continuously briefed and explained to the media what was really happening on the ground, ensuring that the campaign’s voice was not just heard internationally, but that journalists themselves understood the complexity of the situation and were willing to give Kenyatta the fair hearing that he deserved. This completely changed the tone and nature of the election coverage.
BTP provided both strategic campaign advice and hands-on, day-to-day support. Our staff didn’t just work as external consultants, but as an integral part of the team on almost every aspect of campaign planning and delivery. We worked on media, policy, and ground campaigns, setting up systems from scratch in a brand-new political party. Local staff, ranging from experienced old hands to enthusiastic novices, were meshed into an election winning machine.
"BTP show the importance of having the right team behind you” ~ Sakaja Johnson, Chair, The National Alliance Party
Results When the results came through, Kenyatta had won the first round of the election with over 50% of the vote. With our help and advice, he had succeeded in dictating the terms of the election debate, consistently outmanoeuvring his opponents. We not only mobilised his core supporters but won new allies among his traditional opponents.