Kibra people should vote to break poverty cycle

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 06:20 |
ODM candidate in the Kibra constituency by-election Imran Okoth (left) and party secretary-general, Edwin Sifuna at Kamukunji grounds. Photo/PD/KENNA CLAUDE

Campaigns ahead of Thursday’s Kibra by-election bear all signs of a rehearsal of 2022 General Election. The by-election is a litmus test for emerging political formations and what they portend for the future.

ODM leader Raila Odinga, a former long-serving Kibra MP, has pumped all his political energy to ensure the party’s candidate Imran Okoth retains the mantle left vacant by his departed brother Ken Okoth. Indeed, Raila recently described Kibra as ODM’s bedroom.

On the other hand, Deputy President William Ruto has thrown the gauntlet, daring Raila after maneuvering through the fractured Jubilee house to prop rookie politician McDonald Mariga, a Kenyan international footballer, to fly the party’s flag in the by-election.

Raila’s rivalry with the DP, dates way back when Ruto bolted out of the ODM stable and joined forces with President Uhuru Kenyatta to form the Jubilee Party. But the situation has since changed and Jubilee is a divided house,  and the woes are attributed to the March 2018 Handshake between the President and Raila.

Nowhere has the schism been demonstrated better than in the Kibra by-election campaigns, where despite the President—the Jubilee captain— endorsing Mariga, some party members have been campaigning for the rival candidate.

Raila’s ODM, while fronting a united front, is reeling from acrimonious proceedings with its once formidable Nasa allies ANC and Ford-Kenya, who have also fielded their candidates.

With ODM left to fight one of its biggest battles joined by a cast of regionally strategic alliances, Raila has positioned himself as a key player and in the unfolding political equation. That is why he wants to ensure ODM retains the Kibra seat all costs if only to assert the party’s stake in shaping the nation’s destiny. 

Ruto is so far his main adversary and the Kibra by-election offers the perfect setting for the changing times in Kenya’s political scene.

Whoever wins the duel will set a new precedent and help determine the political direction of Kibra’s and the country’s political future as wananchi anxiously await the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

Kibra matters to me as I have lived in the region for more than 20 years , and I am registered voter in the constituency. So when I cast my vote, I will confidently join fellow voters in asserting that this close association gives us the confidence to predict that we will elect the right candidate.

Closely following Kibra’s history from the period preceding independence, one learns it is a cosmos of the Kenyan nation, with a bulging population of diverse ethnic communities—Nubians, Kikuyu, Luo, Abagusii, Kamba, Luhya, Maasai, Kalenjin.

It has its own unique vibrant economy and a deeply fervent political base. Kibra also faces numerous mounting social and economic challenges that have left the majority of the slum dwellers living a life of struggle and survival. These are monumental challenges that will not be cured by this by-election. Whoever wins the race for the soul of Kibra people will have to convince the electorate that they will put at the top of the national challenges that confront the constituents.

This message that the people of Kibra are victims of a vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment and a myriad social and economic challenges that has left them in deplorable conditions has not come out clearly during the campaigns.

The Kibra by-election will be a political choice. Hopefully the voters will choose wisely.

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