Of the horses in Kibra race Raila, Ruto stand out

Friday, September 6th, 2019 00:00 |
Amani National Congress party leader (right) hands over nomination certificate to Eliud Owalo to contest the Kibra seat, at the party headquarters in Nairobi. Photo/PD/TIMOTHY NJENGA

Their persuasions may be different, motivation dissimilar, approach diverse, but their objective is the same — victory in the Kibra constituency by-election, which is exactly a month away. 

Blinded by political rivalry, ambition, personal egos and even blind vengefulness, the country’s political bigwigs; Deputy President William Ruto, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi are gearing up for a do-or-die political contest in the constituency. 

For Raila, he cannot afford to lose the Kibra seat. It is political home, which his party now calls the “ODM bedroom”. 

The African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development, is a former MP for the area he served for two decades before it was split into two—Kibra and Langata— in 2012.

In fact, the ODM leader is a registered voter in Kibra, and not Lang’ata, with Olympic Primary School as his polling station.  

And because of his firm foothold in Kibra, the Opposition chief prides himself as the political kingpin in the city.

In fact, he often chides political rivals, the DP in particular, that “Jogoo wa shamba hawiki mjini” (A cockerel from the village cannot crow in town).

But as the countdown to the contest begins in earnest, the “village” politicians—Ruto (Uasin Gishu), Mudavadi (Vihiga) and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) — have thrown their hats into the ring to challenge “Baba” in his backyard.  

Politically senior to the trio, who have separately worked under him in ODM, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) and National Super Alliance(Nasa),Raila is a more seasoned politician who cannot afford to play second-fiddle to any of the three. 

Having lost in the last three recent by-elections, including in Ugenya constituency in Siaya county, which is Raila’s rural backyard, the Orange party leader is keen to end this trend. And as Director of Elections Junet Mohamed says, “not every day is Sunday”. 

“We are fully aware that some people want to turn this contest into a personal political affront towards our party leader.

We will not allow personal vendetta to come in between the Kibra people’s quest for a good leader from their favourite ODM party,” he said. 

At a time when Raila is flexing political muscle with Ruto, it would be a major psychological boost to carry the day in Kibra. The same will aid him push for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the Handshake. 

For Ruto, a win in Kibra will be a major political coup and statement that he has finally eclipsed the big boys of “yesteryears”.

The win will serve as sweet victory over a bitter rival, whom he has always dismissed as an old man who should retire from politics “because of dwindling fortunes”.  

Kibra, as Jubilee party deputy secretary general Caleb Kositany observes, presents the DP with a premium opportunity to humiliate Raila.

Considering that Ruto has already claimed the other half of Raila’s old Lang’ata, courtesy of Jubilee’s Nixon Korir, a win in Kibra will complete his full takeover of the ODM leader’s former base constituency.

“Nothing would be sweeter than such an achievement,” says the Soy MP.  

Victory will indeed give Ruto the much- needed momentum to frustrate, if not vanquish, Raila’s BBI push.

Tellingly, the DP’s home county, Uasin Gishu, has already voted in support of the “Punguza Mzigo” Bill sponsored by Third Way Alliance party. Raila is fiercely opposed to Dr Ekuru Aukot.

A win for Ruto would also help him fight off the so-called Nairobi political fathers, including the likes of Jubilee’s Nominated MP Maina Kamanda and give him a foothold in the country’s capital city politics. 

And that he has reportedly pushed for the candidature of ex-international soccer star, McDonald Mariga, who hails from Funyula constituency in Busia county, is enough to endear him to the larger Luhya population in Kibra and in western Kenya region. 

It matters not whether or not his candidate finally clinches the seat but the Mariga card may henceforth become a rallying point in the DP’s future campaigns as he warms up to the populous Luhya community ahead of 2022. 

For Mudavadi, the win will be prove, that he is no longer a pushover. The former Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) has always been keen at dispelling the notion that he is a political lightweight.

During  interview on K24 TV’s PunchLine programme on Sunday, the ANC leader warned his rivals to underestimate his political might “at their own peril”. 

Speaking separately on a local TV channel, ANC secretary general, Barrack Muluka termed the Kibra by-election the beginning of an all-out war “we have declared against Raila and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka”.

He claimed his party boss was now “the only opposition leader” after Raila and Kalonzo “went to sleep with government”. 

But even more curious is Maina Kamanda’s hint that he and members of the Kieleweke wing of Jubilee may back an Orange party candidate. It can only mean that  the Kieleweke wing will be unsettled by  strengthened Ruto if his candidate wins the Kibra seat.

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