ODM heavyweights having UDA, ANC as fallback plan in Vihiga, Kakamega – analysts
As the country gears towards the next general elections, realignments are being witnessed in the counties of Kakamega and Vihiga with sitting politicians at crossroads on whether to defend their seats through their current political parties or seek re-election on other political vehicles.
The main losers could be Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), according to local political analysts.
The pundits are already seeing a rift within the orange party which they say has created two opposing camps with one group claiming that area Deputy Governor Philip Kutima should be the bonafide Kakamega ODM chairman while the other wing claims that Shinyalu MP Justus Mungalia should take the seat.
The perceived rift has allegedly brought tension among the top contenders for the gubernatorial race with some of them claiming that they will be sidelined when it comes to party nominations.
Some of the dissatisfied members have been heard claiming that the party will give direct tickets to 'favoured' candidates.
The new contenders for the governor's seat include KETRACO Managing Director Fernandez Barasa and County Secretary Laban Atemba.
The two are among 10 others who are eyeing the seat including ANC's Senator Cleophas Malala, Lugari legislator Ayub Savula, UDA's Bonny Khalwale, Metropol Credit Reference Bureau firm Managing Director Samuel Omukoko, former Health Minister in Moi’s government Amukoa Anangwe, and former Nyanza PC Paul Olando.
According to Kakamega's political pundits, ODM should quickly quell the brewing storm within the party in order to retain the governor's seat stating that the top contenders for the position who include Senator Malala, Savula, or Khalwale might run with the seat.
Some analysts have pointed out that ANC shares the same headache with ODM when it comes to determining who gets the party's nod to vie for the gubernatorial seat. They claim that Mudavadi's party has pinpointed some of the heavyweights in the two counties as front runners.
“ODM is a strong party in Kakamega but there are chances of it not doing very well in the upcoming elections because many aspirants are fearing a possibility of nomination tickets being given directly to specific persons,” political analyst Philip Atsiaya told People Daily Digital.
The same problem on party nominations awaits ODM in the Women Representative position which has attracted seven contenders who want to unseat the current ODM Women Rep Elsie Muhanda.
The contenders are ODM nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga, UDA's Hadija Nganyi, ANC's Penina Mukabane, Lydia Pamela Inyangala, Mercy Luseno from UDA, Loice Agoi from KANU and Sarah Netia.
Muhanda is rumoured to be planning to join either UDA or ANC, a fact that analysts say has created confusion among top contenders for the seat from the ODM camp.
“Shiyonga has been the party's main sponsor in Kakamega and she is giving Muhanda some headache after she announced her bid to run for the seat. This has greatly affected ODM's campaigns for the Woman Rep position in Kakamega,” Philip Atsiaya said.
The brewing storm over party nominations in ODM's Kakamega branch is taking place after Deputy President William Ruto popularised his UDA party in the region.
In Vihiga, Dr Wilber Otichilo will be facing off with five other contenders including current ANC Senator George Khaniri, Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi, ODM's Francis Ominde, Ford Kenya’s Alex Maloba, and the former governor Moses Akaraga.
The Woman Rep seat has also attracted five contenders including the incumbent ANC's Beatrice Adagala, Violet Bagade, Winnie Majani and Ruth Abokonwa. Jackline Mwenesi and Ruth Bukachi are other contenders who have announced that they will be seeking UDA ticket.
According to Chacha Weche, who is also a political analyst in Westen Kenya, UDA is now gaining popularity in Kakamega county where ODM has previously been enjoying huge support.