RAILA'S BACKYARD:

Kibra: What's in it for DP Ruto?

Ruto can flex his political muscle and take on his fiercest rival

In Summary

•There is a belief that the Kibra poll will be a showdown between Ruto and Raila.

• A section of Jubilee MPs say, however, that the poll will be a contest between the ruling party and ODM or ANC.

Deputy President William Ruto during a tour of Nandoi County on August 27, 2019.
Deputy President William Ruto during a tour of Nandoi County on August 27, 2019.
Image: DPPS

When Jubilee announced it would field a candidate in the Kibra by-election, it became clear that this was yet another platform for Deputy President William Ruto to face-off with ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Jubilee was said to be reluctant about fielding a candidate at first but made an about-turn after 'consultations.'

In fact, several media outlets reported that Ruto was instrumental in having Jubilee field a candidate in Kibra, begging the question: what’s in it for the Deputy President?

 

Now that Jubilee will be fielding a candidate, Ruto will certainly have an opportunity to flex his political muscle in the city, taking on his fiercest rival.

 

Kibra was hived off Lang'ata Constituency, which Raila represented in Parliament between 1992 and March 2013. Ken Okoth, who died this month, became the first MP for Kibra on the ODM ticket in 2013.

Over the years, the constituency has been Raila’s backyard and he is known to retreat to the area whenever he wants to issue a political statement.

Ruto, on the other hand, has not had an MP from his Rift Valley backyard represent a constituency in Nairobi save for Nixon Korir, who is the MP for Lang'ata.

It is for this reason - winning the Lang'ata seat - that Jubilee is said to be confident that it is competitive enough to field a candidate in the neighbouring Kibra constituency.

There were expectations in some quarters that Jubilee, in the spirit of the handshake, would not field a candidate as it did in the Ugenya and Embakasi South by-elections.

The party, however, announced it was in the race just a day after Raila unveiled ODM aspirants to Kibra seat.

 

Jubilee MPs Caleb Kositany (Soy) and Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), say, nonetheless,  the election will not be a Ruto-versus-Raila contest but Jubilee-versus ODM or ANC battle.

 

Jubilee, which has nine of the 17 parliamentary seats in Nairobi, will be keen to snatch Kibra from ODM. The Orange party has seven seats, Kibra included, with the remaining one belonging to Wiper.

People in Kibra know that is would be improper to just elect a person along tribal lines or through party euphoria. The agenda should be who is the best person to come forward and carry on with work of the late Okoth after many years of Kibra being a constituency of just making noise.
Caleb Kositany  Soy MP

Even so, political analyst Herman Manyora sees the contest differently and says Ruto might see an opportunity to take on Raila head-on.

“Ruto will want to show his supporters that Raila is not as strong as people believe. He will want to demonstrate that Raila can be beaten in his rural home ground and still be beaten in his Nairobi stronghold, where he has been MP for many years. That would be quite a testimony to Ruto,” Manyora said.

Kositany, however, maintained that the desire to win the Kibra poll is driven by the need to grow Jubilee and will not be motivated by individual interests.

“The race will not be about any individual. It will be about the Jubilee Party and nothing else. Going forward, we are hoping to field candidates in every by-election that will arise,” he added.

Kositany expressed confidence that Jubilee stands "a very good chance" of clinching the seat because "constituents realised change under the late MP and now know to chose people who are development-conscious."

Barasa said Jubilee is a national party hence the need to field a candidate in Kibra.

“That seat does not belong to anybody. It is for the people of Kibra and they are Kenyans. No party has a title deed for Kibra,” he said.

Barasa reiterated that Jubilee is determined to snatch the seat from ODM. “We will snatch it from them. We will give them a run for their money. If we win, good for us but even if we lose by a whisker, we will have made a statement. Last time we performed dismally and we now want to increase the numbers. I am personally going to camp there for two weeks,” he added.

Manyora agreed with the two legislators and said it would be absurd for Jubilee not to take part in the Kibra by-election.

“Every party exists to take part in elections. If a party does not compete, then why does it exist? It must enter as many contests as possible and the Kibra by-election provides this opportunity,” he said.

Manyora further said that the by-election would be another opportunity for Jubilee to demonstrate to its supporters that it is united, contrary to reports that its leadership is divided.

“Some people are saying that Jubilee is not united. So what a better way to prove asked.


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