Muthama licks wounds after Machakos loss
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka used last week’s by-election for the Machakos senate seat to silence former senator Johnstone Muthama who is Deputy President William Ruto’s point man in Ukambani.
Muthama, a Kalonzo ally-turned-fierce critic, is the national chairman of the United Democratic Alliance(UDA) which is associated with Ruto.
The party fielded a candidate last Thursday’s poll won by Muthama’s estranged wife Agnes Kavindu.
Muthama had staked the by-election as a litmus test for Kalonzo’s popularity in the region and UDA’s Urbanus Ngengele’s loss was a blow to the abrasive politician.
“Muthama defined the by-election as a referendum on the political leadership of the lower Eastern region.
Now that the results are out, it would be interesting to see what his next move will be,” said Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua.
The lawmaker also described governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui) as irritants in Ukambani politics.
“I hope our competitors have learned their lessons,”said Wambua.
Kavindu was head-hunted from the Jubilee Party by Kalonzo to take the battle to her ex-husband who had parted ways with Wiper and formed UDA.
UDA’s Ngengele emerged a distant second in the election.
Maendeleo Chap Chap leader Mutua withdrew his candidate Mutua Katuku from the race a day before the voting.
Observers say Katuku’s withdrawal may have partly been responsible for the low voter turnout.
But it is Muthama who was left licking his wounds after his attempt to snatch the regional kingpin mantle from Kalonzo through the by-election fell flat.
Buoyed by the win in the Msambweni by-election, UDA had promised a repeat in Machakos but this was not to be.
The rains started beating the new party during the selection of candidate in what the party touted as a “scientific poll”.
There were claims that Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka and his Machakos Town counterpart Victor Munyaka pulled the rug from under Muthama’s feet by convincing Ruto that Ngengele was the most popular among 14 aspirants who had expressed interest in UDA’s ticket.
Ngengele was eventually picked amid murmurs from the rest including University don John Musingi who eventually ran on a Muungano Party ticket.
Another aspirant, former Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala, also left UDA to campaign for Kavindu.
Political scientist Sharif-Peter Mogire, however, says Ruto is justified to claim some credit out of what he described Ngengele’s “token performance.”
“Ruto and Muthama have something to celebrate because their candidate got votes in Kalonzo’s backyard and with a three-month old outfit,” said Mogire.
In her acceptance speech at Machakos Academy shortly after being declared the winner, Kavindu said her victory was an indication of Musyoka’s popularity in the region and nationally.
Kavindu garnered 104,352 votes, representing 80 per cent of the votes, while Ngengele got 19,726 (15 per cent).
But the 130,000 turnout was just 21 per cent of the 600,000 registered voters.