The Machakos by-election for the Senate seat has been billed as a supremacy battle between top political leaders.
As voters prepare to go to the polls on March 18 to pick a replacement for Boniface Kabaka who died in December, the race has narrowed down to three candidates: Maendeleo Chap Chap’s Mutua Katuku, Agnes Kavindu of Wiper and UDA’s Urbanus Ngengele.
The by-election will be a litmus test for bigwigs who have been fighting to stamp their authority in the region.
Stakes are high as the different camps make their final submissions to the voters after nearly ten weeks of campaigns across the county’s eight constituencies.
Widely considered the lower Eastern’s economic and political capital, the county has about 624,000 registered voters, according to IEBC.
The UDA candidate has the backing of the interim party chairman and former area senator Johnson Muthama. The new outfit is associated with Deputy President William Ruto.
Katuku, a former Cabinet minister, is being supported by the party leader and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, while Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka has roped in the new ‘Sacred Alliance’ to beat the drum for Kavindu, the former wife of Mr Muthama.
Ruto, Mutua and Kalonzo have declared interest in the presidency and the outcome of the by-election will have political implications come the next year General Election.
The past few days have seen heightened political activity in the county as different camps use propaganda to woo voters.
Muthama, who parted ways with Wiper, must prove his political influence as the UDA chairman and stamp his authority in the region after quitting Kalonzo’s camp.
The former senator has been telling voters to elect the UDA candidate in the spirit of Hustler Movement. “If you elect Ngengele as senator, you will have two senators. While he (Ngengele) will be representing the people in the Senate, I on the other hand will be ‘senator on call’ to attend to any emergent issue that may face Machakos residents,” Muthama said during a recent rally.
Muthama, who has declared himself the new Ukambani kingpin after a bitter falling-out with Kalonzo, is pleading with voters not to embarrass him. On the other hand, the Maendeleo Chap Chap brigade has mounted a door-to-door campaign, while some teams have been meeting focus groups in villages across the county.
The party has the backing of some local trade union leaders, including the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers, Kenya National Union of Teachers and the association of Gema community in Machakos.
The campaign team led by former Machakos County Assembly Speaker Bernard Mung’ata has said Katuku is the most qualified candidate having served as MP for 10 years. He also served as assistant minister for Finance and Water.
“Those other parties will instruct their candidates to fight my development agenda in order to sabotage my legacy. The remaining period is very short and I need a senator who will swiftly capture my vision to transform the livelihood of Machakos residents, and not one who will begin to pick wars on behalf of their political masters,” said Mutua in a recent rally in Kangundo.
He dismissed as propaganda claims by opponents that Katuku will not effectively oversight the Executive.
Kalonzo has marshaled several Wiper MPs and top religious leaders to drum up support for the Wiper candidate. The former Vice President has been fighting allegations by critics that he picked Ms Kavindu to settle political scores with Muthama.
Defended track record
Kalonzo has defended Kavindu’s track record, citing her role as one of the 16 individuals who were tasked by President Uhuru Kenyatta to drive BBI. “I have confidence in her leadership potential and her capability to represent the people of Machakos in the Senate,” he said.
The senatorial race has also attracted former provincial police boss Francis Munyambu (Independent), Stanly Muindi (Party of Economic Democracy), university lecturer John Musingi (Muungano) and Simeon Kitheka (GDDP). Others are Musembi Nthenge and Sabastian Nthama who are vying as independent candidates.
After Wiper’s signing of a co-operation agreement with the Jubilee Party, Kalonzo has moved to prove to critics that he still has President Kenyatta’s ear by lobbying for the appointment of his allies to State jobs.
Wiper’s national secretary-general Peter Mathuki was appointed secretary-general for the East African Community and Jackson Kala as CAS Labour. Kala stepped down from the race for the Wiper ticket in favor of Kavindu.
By Standard Digital