Race for Matungu by-election intensifies in three-jockey upfront

Saturday, February 13th, 2021 11:00 |

Dennis Lumiti

The contest for the Matungu parliamentary seat is to intensify in the coming days with senior officials of the leading political parties in the March 4 by-election expected to troop to sugarcane-growing constituency in Kakamega county even as the battle appears to have narrowed to three candidates on 20 to the poll.

Parties leading the charts in the contest are Amani National Congress (ANC) headed by former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the United Democratic Alliance associated with Deputy President William Ruto all who are expected to grace campaigns for their respective candidates as from next week.

The by-election was occasioned by the death of former MP Justus Murunga. 

Sugar politics

Sugar politics continues to dominate the electioneering debates and have turned sour for a number of political bigwigs who are now avoiding campaigns in the vast constituency. 

The collapse of Mumias Sugar Company, 2022 succession politics and networking with residents, are among the key issues that will  determine the outcome of the election.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cleared 20 candidates to vie for the seat but more than 15, mainly independents, have vanished into thin air, among them Christabel Jane, widow of the late Murunga and her stepson, Eugene Ambwere, leaving the competition has practically narrow down to Peter Oscar Nabulindo of ANC, David Were of ODM and Alex Lanya of UDA.

Mudavadi’s handlers told People Daily that the ANC leader is expected in Matungu on Monday for a three-day blitz to drum up support for Nabulindo while Raila is understood to be preparing to land there later in the week to boost Were’s campaigns currently spearheaded by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya while Ruto’s henchmen on the ground say he would be heading there next weekend.

Last weekend, Oparanya came face-to-face with the reality on the ground when his public rallies were interrupted by rowdy youths chanting “Msaliti (traitor)!” slogans.

The youths accused Oparanya of having contributed to the collapse of MSC while also saying he was being used by “outsiders” to frustrate Mudavadi’s presidential bid. 

Oparanya bumped into hostile crowds at Kholera, Koyonzo and Mayoni shopping centres as he campaigned for the Orange Democratic Movement’s David Aoko Were.

While accompanied by several leaders allied to ODM, including Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, Oparanya was not given time to address the residents owing to noisy jeers and boos from the crowds. 

His motorcade was pelted with stones as it made its way through the constituency, forcing him to end campaigns abruptly.

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