How Mvurya crafted victory for Feisal Bader
After an aggressive campaign by Opposition chief Raila Odinga and politicians associated with Deputy President William Ruto in the Msambweni by-election, the result was determined by the sibling rivalry between Governors Hassan Joho of Mombasa and Kwale’s Salim Mvurya.
Though the Tanga Tanga group allied to Ruto was quick to claim credit for Independent candidate Feisal Bader’s victory, evidence on the ground shows Mvurya played a key role in the outcome.
In the run-up to the election, Mvurya had managed to build a compelling narrative that victory for the Orange Democratic Movement candidate Omari Boga would be a slight on him by Governor Joho.
Mvurya yesterday indicated that he initially had no interest in the Msambweni by-election prompted by the death of Suleiman Dori in June, but was forced into the campaign trail following what he described as insults by Joho who he thought was demeaning him in his own county.
“I wanted to show Joho that respect in counties outside Mombasa is important; that is why I joined Bader’s team and thoroughly campaigned for him,” he said.
The popular governor then carefully turned the poll into a referendum on his leadership and a jab on Joho, who he packaged as a disrespectful intruder, effectively whipping up emotions that ended up turning the tide in Bader’s favour.
Immediately after Bader’s victory was announced, Mvurya expressed his gratitude to the locals, saying he was overwhelmed with their decision.
“I am so overwhelmed. I am happy that you listened to me during the campaigns and you made a wise decision,” Mvurya said.
The governor said he will now earn his respect from a leader whom, he said, had been insulting and undermining him politically in his own turf.
“At least I will now gain my respect from these disrespectful leaders who have been treating Kwale like a sub-county of Mombasa County and could come in the area and say anything,” he said, in clear reference to Joho. During the campaigns, the two exchanged harsh words with the Kwale county boss asking his Mombasa counterpart, also the ODM deputy party leader to keep off Msambweni.
However, Joho vowed to pitch tent in Kwale and did so for the past two months, a move that Mvurya declared was an act of provocation.
The governor fell out with Joho after he (Mvurya) defected to Jubilee in the last election, opening ground for a supremacy battle with the self-declared Sultan of Mombasa, who has been positioning himself as the Coast political kingpin.
The Kwale county chief is celebrated for his development record, especially on improving literacy levels in the area as well as improving health facilities.
A recent survey by Infotrack Research ranked Mvurya as the second best performing county chief after Wycliffe Oparanya of Kakamega. Residents rated the performance of their governors in agriculture, health and education sectors.
Through his Elimu Ni Sasa Initiative, a bursary project, Mvurya’s government pays a 100 per cent school fees for students in Kwale.
Meanwhile, sources in ODM yesterday told People Daily that the leadership blames Joho for the Msambweni loss, accusing him of turning the contest into “a one-man show” which excluded Kwale party leaders, Senator Juma Boy and local Orange MPs.
ODM also points fingers at secretary -General Edwin Sifuna for insulting Mijikenda women during the campaigns. The defeat was also seen as a blow for Raila, who had declared it a litmus test for the Building Initiative (BBI), which he spearheads with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Raila had projected Boga, who met Uhuru last week, as the Handshake candidate.
Bader trounced Boga with 15,251 votes against 10,444 votes.
Wiper Party’s Sheik Mahmoud Adurahman came a distant third with 790 votes.
Ruto and his allies were, however, quick to take credit for the win, with some saying it was a curtain riser for the upcoming BBI referendum.
“Congratulations my friend Feisal Bader. Your win cements our trust in God and the people. Democracy and people power have triumphed. Watu wa Msambweni Mungu awabariki. Pongezi,” tweeted Ruto after the elections were called in favour of the independent candidate.
Ruto’s allies such as former Senators Johnstone Muthama (Machakos), Hassan Omar (Mombasa), Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) and MPs Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Mohammed Ali (Nyali) and Hatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) vigorously campaigned for Bader.
The Independent candidate was declared winner by IEBC Returning Officer Yusuf Abubakr and issued with a certificate on Wednesday morning.
Eight candidates contested the seat after the death of Dori, who was Bader’s uncle.
After the poll, the MP-elect said he was ready to work with the other candidates as he vowed to serve the people of Msambweni diligently.
“I urge my colleagues who were part of the race to come and work with me in delivering services to the people of Msambweni now that election is over,” he said.
Bader said he will focus on completing his late uncle’s unfinished projects.
“As I told you earlier, I want to fulfill my late uncle’s dreams of the unfinished projects he left for the people of Msambweni,” he said.
Mwashetani said the TangaTanga group had no grudges against their ODM opponents with whom they had been caught up in a confrontation on Tuesday.
“That is why we are always told that election comes and goes but for us the people we are here to stay. We have clinched the Msambweni seat and we also want to declare that we have no grudges upon the ODM MPs whom we had engaged with during the campaigns and on Tuesday during the by election,” Mwashetani said.
Later, Boga conceded defeat and pledged to work with the winner.
“I congratulate Bader for the victory and wish him well for the work ahead. Democracy has worked; I also want to thank my party and its leadership for their support. The focus now is to work together and address the issues facing our people,” said Boga at a press conference.
Other candidates in the race included Charles Bilali (Independent), Marere Wamwachai (New Vision Party), Hassan Mwakulonda (Party of Economic Democracy), Mahmoud Sheikh (Wiper Party), Khamis Mwakaonje (United Green Movement) and Mansury Kumaka (Independent). They collectively managed to garner 790 of the votes cast.