LEAVING NOTHING TO CHANCE

Matungu by-election contenders knock doors for votes

The by-election has attracted 15 candidates, among them nine independents.

In Summary

• They are all avoiding mentioning the sugar industry as voters seem disinterested in the revival of cane farming.

• The by-election is slated for March 4. It was occasioned by the death of MP Justus Murunga in December last year.

ANC's Peter Nabulindo during a presser in Kakamega town
ANC's Peter Nabulindo during a presser in Kakamega town
Image: HILTON OTENYO

Candidates in the March 4 Matungu MP by-election have shifted to door-to-door campaigns to persuade voters to pick them.

ANC's Peter Nabulindo is using boda bodas to reach villagers in their homes.

"What is important is to make contact with the real voters. We're leaving nothing to chance," Nabulindo said.

United Democratic Alliance candidate Alex Lanya has been carrying out similar campaigns, accompanied by former Senator Boni Khalwale, Mumias East MP Ben Washiali and former Sports CS Rashid Echesa.

ODM candidate David Were has been meeting specific groupings in Mumias West constituency.  

Were accompanied by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is leading the ODM campaigns, has been meeting groups at night at the Matungu cultural centre. They are occasionally joined by party secretary-general Edwin Sifuna.

UDA candidate Alex Lanya campaigns at Ejinja market on Saturday
UDA candidate Alex Lanya campaigns at Ejinja market on Saturday
Image: HILTON OTENYO

Voters seek to replace MP Justus Murunga who died in December last year. The race has attracted 15 candidates, among them nine independents. 

Other candidates in the race are Charles Kasamani (United Democratic Party), Paul Achayo of Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) and Faida Auma of Maendeleo Chap Chap.

Independents in the race include Murunga's widow Christabel Amunga and son Eugene Ambwere, Bernard Wakoli, Athman Wangara, Anzelimo Kongoti, Kevin Nectus, Wilberforce Lutta and Gregory Atoko.

The candidates are avoiding making many promises for fear of a backlash in 2022.

None is mentioning the sugar industry as voters seem disinterested in the revival of cane farming. Voters feel the issue has been used far too long as a campaign tool and nothing has happened.

Independent Candidate candidate Bernard Wakoli meeting supporters at Emanani primary school on Saturday
Independent Candidate candidate Bernard Wakoli meeting supporters at Emanani primary school on Saturday
Image: HILTON OTENYO

The campaigns have been largely peaceful. Nabulindo has, however, claimed that the ODM team was buying ID cards from voters in areas perceived not to be supporting Were and destroying them.

But oparanya has denied that the party was buying voters’ cards, terming the claims propaganda. Returning officer John Kirui was unavailable for comment.

The Matungu by-election, together with that of Kabuchai constituency have boiled down to a contest between ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, ODM’s Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto, who are positioning themselves to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.

Last Wednesday, Mudavadi, his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula, Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka and Kanu’s Gideon Moi campaigned for Ford Kenya’s Kalasinga Majimbo in Kabuchai. They also drummed up support for Nabulindo in Matungu.

Mudavadi and Wetang'ula are supporting single candidates for the two by-elections to avoid competing against each other.

Gideon said victors in the two by-elections will be the firstborns of their newly found union. The four have promised to stick together until after 2022.

Pundits say the outcome of the by-elections will be a pointer to the political direction the Western region will take in 2022.