• The political temperature is getting extremely high ahead of the polls on Thursday in a constituency where Raila Odinga has dominated for more than three decades.
• ANC and Jubilee candidates are putting their best foot forward to erase the ‘bedroom’ tag that ODM has been using to describe its firm grip on the slum constituency.
Despite having a long list of 24 candidates in the battle for Kibra by-election, the fierce battle to clinch the seat has narrowed down to a three-horse race.
So far, the race is billed as a contest among ODM candidate Imran Okoth, ANC’s Eliud Owalo and the ruling Jubilee Party flag bearer and former football star McDonald Mariga.
The political temperature is getting extremely high ahead of the polls on Thursday in a constituency where Raila Odinga, the ODM leader, has dominated for more than three decades.
Musalia Mudavadi's ANC and Jubilee candidates are putting their best foot forward to erase the ‘bedroom’ tag that the Orange party has been using to describe its firm grip on the slum constituency.
As the campaigns enter the homestretch, some 21 other contestants also cleared for the seat are either completely or partially eclipsed with only few posters and IEBC records the only evidence showing their being in the race.
Experts, however, say media is to blame for creating the three-horse narrative, effectively denying Kibra voters an opportunity to make an informed choice after scrutinising their leaders, especially what they stand for.
Media Council of Kenya Deputy CEO and programs manager Victor Bwire warned that continued focus on the three candidates created the illusion of frontrunners in the race.
The obsession with the three, he noted, is likely to deny voters an opportunity to know what is being offered by the other candidates not covered by the media.
Bwire said media should not be carried by the personality of the trio but instead expand the platform to all the 24 candidates "so that voters in Kibra get a rich menu to choose from".
"Media has a responsibility to cover what is called the game of strategy, where they depend on what the candidates are sending out. We need to expand the space, give these other guys voices to be heard and with that, the media will be doing its responsibility of being a civic citizen educator by giving all the candidates a platform," Bwire said.
"If we are not going to listen to the 24 and also give them space, how will the voters have a wider room of collection, especially on matters of substance?" he posed.
The IEBC has gazetted 24 candidates for the by-election.
These are Anaciet Dorn (DP), Martin Andati (Modern Alliance Party), Felix Anditi (Independent), Ibrahim Kimorko (Roots Party), Kassim Abdul (The New Democrats), Titus Mutinda (Republican Liberty Party), Fridah Kerubo (Independent), Khamisi Butichi (Ford Kenya), Mathew Musyoka (Independent), Jared Nyakundi (National Liberal Party), Elijah Nyamwamu (National Rainbow Coalition - Kenya) and Editar Ochieng’ (Ukweli Party).
Others are Emmanuel Owiti (Green Congress), David Odanga (Independent), Isaac Ogongo (Justice and Freedom party), Fransco Ojiambo (Party of Democratic Unity), Shedrack Omondi (I), Benard Okoth (ODM), Shem Ocharo (Munngano), Abraham Okoth (Independent), Eliud Owalo (ANC), Hamida Musa (United Green Movement), McDonald Mariga (Jubilee) and Noah Migudo (Independent).
But Centre of Multiparty Democracy of Kenya executive director Frankline Mukwanja said the problem has nothing to do with the media but the candidates, whom he noted are yet to come out strongly to announce their existence
“Kenyans are free to organise, assemble and articulate their issues and to the extent that these provisions have been allowed to be exercised, is there any problem?” he posed.
“What are the thresholds for the media to cover the story? Have you decided deliberately as an editorial policy we are only going to cover the three? There's something the three are doing to warrant what they are getting.”
In terms of campaign promises, almost all the 24 candidates have the same pledges for the Kibra residents, ranging from improvement of education infrastructure, vocational training for youths to acquire survival skills, facilitating the young population and women to do business with ease and improving security.