Battle lines are drawn in Kibra as campaigns end

Monday, November 4th, 2019 00:00 |
Jubilee flag bearer for the Kibra by-election MacDonald Maringa addresses residents during a campaign rally at the DC Grounds in Kibra, Nairobi. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

The three main political parties yesterday pitched tent in Kibra for the last minute hunt for  votes ahead of today’s deadline for public rallies.

With three days to go, all the three parties—Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee—marshalled their troops to informal settlement in a bid to capture the seat in a battle that is now turning out to be a rehearsal for 2022 General Election.

 The Handshake between Uhuru and Raila, and the resultant Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) took centre stage in yesterday’s rallies, with allies of Deputy President William Ruto remaining cynical. On the other hand, Raila’s entourage drummed up support for the BBI.

But as party leaders Raila and Mudavadi arrived in Kibra to woo support for their candidates, questions emerged on the absence of President Uhuru from the Jubilee campaigns.

Since endorsing McDonald Mariga for the seat at a private event at State House, the President has largely kept off the Kibra campaigns, with some political pundits claiming he is keen not to jeopardise the March 2018 handshake deal with Raila by campaigning against the latter’s candidate.

Yesterday, Uhuru opted to attend a joint prayer and thanksgiving service for members of the Disciplined Service at Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi.

The Jubilee brigade was led by Ruto, who urged Kibra residents to shun the politics of personality cult and instead, embrace the politics that is development-oriented.

On the other hand, Raila led campaigns for his party candidate Imran Okoth as Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula drummed up support for Eliud Owalo and Khamisi Butichi at Kenyatta Market and Lindi, respectively.

“Jubilee administration has solid plans that would transform Kibra from being the face of slums in Africa to the continent’s face of commerce,” Ruto during a church service at Africa Brotherhood Church.

Ruto said Jubilee’s Mariga’s victory in Thursday’s by-election would pave the way for the government to easily initiate development projects in the area.

Sticky issues

He said Jubilee opponents should stop demeaning Kibra and turning it into an individual’s property.

 “Kibra has its owners who need development,” he said.

 Ruto said it was time Kibra was divorced from the Opposition, and joined forces with the government to address the sticky issues of poverty and unemployment facing the constituency.

On his part, Mariga promised to bring sweeping changes in Kibra that would empower the people.

“We would want to see better healthcare and education for the people of Kibra. If you support my candidature, I would bring about the much-needed infrastructural overhaul in this area,” he aid.

Ruto’s was accompanied by National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale, MPs Vincent Musyoka (Mwala), Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town), Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East), Rachel Nyamai (Kitui South), Janet Nangabo (Trans-Nzoia Woman Representative), John Kiarie (Dagoretti South), John Waluke (Sirisia), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Nixon Korir (Lang’ata), Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Charles Kanyi (Starehe) and Jayne Kihara (Naivasha Town).

Others were Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Millicent Omanga (Nominated),  Caleb Kositany (Soy), Liz Chelule (Woman Rep, Nakuru), Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Rehema Jaldesa (Woman Rep, Isiolo), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Malulu Injendi (Malava), Ben Washiali (Mumias East), Faith Muthoni (Woman Rep, Nyandarua), Benard Shinali (Ikolomani), Joyce Korir (Woman Rep, Bomet) and former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale.

Just a warm-up

After the church service, Ruto and his team addressed a major rally at the DC grounds, where Ruto said the President was solidly behind Mariga’s candidature.

“This is a race between Mariga and ODM’s Okoth. It is just a warm-up for a tougher 2022 race,” he said.

On the other hand, ODM which has declared Kibra as its “political bedroom”, trooped to Kibra with a team of new allies that political pundits said could be a pointer to an imminent formation of a political alliance. 

Raila was accompanied at Woodley grounds by governors Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui).

The three Ukambani governors have been closely working together, having put up an inter-dependent economic bloc to create jobs and promote trade.

However, their close ties have irked the perceived regional political supremo, Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who had Kibwana kicked out of the party for not toeing the party line.

Waiguru, on the other hand, sparked national debate when she said that Central Kenya is now ready for a Raila presidential candidacy, despite being in the same party with Ruto.

Raila led his brigade in pushing for the Building Bridges Initiative report, which they said would be determine the next president in 2022.

“This is a different gathering; the first after Handshake. We said we won’t turn back until Kenya changes for the better.  We want better reforms that will kill tribalism, corruption and plunder of resources, electoral fights, youth unemployment and poverty, and bring peace,” he told a cheering crowd.

The former premier said the BBI report would come up with solutions to the nine pillars they had enumerated in the Handshake and instill lasting peace and unity in Kenya.

While reacting to accusations by Ruto that he had invited strangers to Kibra to campaign for him, Raila stated: “Some say I invite people to my bedroom. What’s wrong with inviting people to my bedroom? Are they not friends? Hawa wanasema ni wapumbavu tu (Those talking are stupid).”

Waiguru said she had decided to support the ODM candidate because of the Handshake. “We are not afraid ... we are not shaken by cheap politics. Tumekataa kupangwa (We have refused to be manipulated),” she said.

Regarding the Building Bridges Initiative,  Waiguru  asked the people to support it as “that’s where the 2022 government will come from”.

On the other hand, Mudavadi promised   to liberate the people of Kibra from the grip of individuals who regard it as their “doormat and personal property.”

“On November 7, the people of Kibra are going to say no to the politics of individualism and tribalism.”

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