BY-ELECTION

Post-bedroom fight: What Kibra portends for 2022

In Summary

• In his last rally, ODM leader Raila Odinga was joined by governors  Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and James Ongwae of Kisii to rally support for the orange candidate.

• Therein are signals of what to expect in the new political realignments ahead of the 2022 General Election, analysts say.

Imran Okoth receives the nomination certificate from party leader Raila Odinga at Orange House on September 10, 2019.
Imran Okoth receives the nomination certificate from party leader Raila Odinga at Orange House on September 10, 2019.
Image: EMMANUEL WANSON

The IEBC on Friday officially declared ODM candidate Imran Okoth as the Kibra MP-elect.

While declaring himself as the child of the handshake, Imran thanked other parties that endorsed him to win the seat.

This was the also the term Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiiguru used to describe Imran’s win, saying it was a handshake victory.

 

The ODM candidate, in his speech shortly after being handed his certificate by returning officer Beatrice Muli, said his victory showed money cannot buy leadership.

"I want to say thank you to Kibra residents who voted overwhelmingly and showed that money cannot buy leadership. Even if we are poor in Kibra, the people here know what they want," Imran said.

In his last rally, ODM leader Raila Odinga was joined by governors  Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and James Ongwae of Kisii to rally support for the orange candidate.

There were all tell-tale signs that Raila will use this team in rooting for the Building Bridges Initiative which is deemed as the precursor to the 2022 general election.

In her congratulatory message, Waiguru thanked Kibra voters for "honouring the handshake", and said next is BBI.

Imran also drew support from a section of Jubilee leaders led by nominated MP Maina Kamanda, Nairobi Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi, and former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru.

Therein are signals of what to expect in the new political realignments ahead of the 2022 General Election, analysts say.

 
 

While Jubilee had a candidate in former Kenya international midfielder McDonald Mariga, key Jubilee luminaries such as Governor Waiguru, Kamanda, Gender CAS Racheal Shebesh came out publicly to endorse Imran, who was supposed to be their rival.

Interestingly, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s MP Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) congratulated Imran on his win and went ahead to mock his party’s candidate.

“Congratulations @ImranOkoth for outright victory for you, my friend Ken Okoth and the people of Kibra. Pole sana @MarigaOfficial there is still hope on Sunday during the #MashemejiDerby,” Kuria posted on Twitter on Friday.

In what was a clear strategy by Jubilee politicians in President Kenyatta’s camp and those endorsing the handshake and the BBI, Mariga was branded a Deputy President William Ruto’s candidate and Imran as the handshake compromise.

Shebesh, in a widely circulated video clip in September at the height of the campaigns, was heard saying that Uhuru never endorsed Mariga for Kibra MP in the by-election.

She said a few individuals in Jubilee who fronted Mariga 'sneaked him through the backdoor' into State House and forced Uhuru into accepting to pose for a photo with him. 

“Does Uhuru have a mouth to speak for himself? And did you hear him speak to endorse Mariga or what you saw were photos that were widely circulated,” Shebesh asked.

This drew a backlash from Rift Valley MPs who called for her resignation as her remark amounted to misconduct and disrespect to the party.

Uhuru did not, however, campaign in Kibra, probably to avoid complicating issues with Raila as far as the handshake is concerned.

Around the same time, Kamanda at a press conference at Capitol Hil — Raila’s office — endorsed Imran.

"I am here in my personal capacity. The handshake brought us harmony and peace in the country. As Jubilee, we have a candidate but as a person, I will be with the ODM candidate. I am here to stand with the candidate nominated by ODM Imran Okoth,” Kamanda said.

On the election day, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said the discussions he looked forward by the time results were out would be, “This wasn’t about winning, it was about challenging perceptions."

"We have proven that we can go anywhere; you should compare the 2017 votes and today. We have really done very well; if we can get this kind of votes in a by-election there, 2022 we are taking the seat.”

And that’s pretty much what happened.

Through a tweet, DP Ruto congratulated Mariga and Jubilee's team for daring what he termed as 'Raila's bedroom'.

The 'bedroom' phrase has been used by Raila and his party in describing Kibra as his stronghold.

Ruto went further to say the Jubilee Party had managed to double its support in Kibra going by the results of the poll.

He said the party's influence has grown having posted 26 per cent compared to 12 per cent which Jubilee registered during the 2017 General Election.

The DP also said the party used the by-election to serve notice to the dominant ODM party in the area despite the defeat.

His ally and Belgut MP Nelson Koech said, “As an observer who traversed virtually half of the polling stations in Kibra yesterday I can say with finality that the DP has entrenched himself further into the city politics."

"If I am to use the bedroom analogy I can say he is already seated on a chair in the bedroom waiting for Baba to go to the washrooms.”

“Truth be said, selling a jubilee candidate in Kibra was the craziest thing one would imagine. It was akin to selling pork in Saudi. Managing over 10,000 votes in the face of open intimidation of voters, roughing up of party agents and criminalizing innocent colleagues is a win for us whichever way you want to look at it,” he added.

Governance consultant and political commentator Charles Kipkulei said Raila won but he ceded ground.

"Ruto made significant gains into Nairobi and Nasa is dead and a skeleton of Tinga's 2022 alliance was revealed; his surrogates are now known. The march to 2022 goes on in earnest."

Results from the 183 polling stations showed Imran secured victory with 24,636 votes with Mariga coming in second with 11,230 votes.

ANC's Eliud Owalo came in third with 5,275 votes with Ford Kenya's Khamisi Butichi coming in a distant fourth with 260 votes.

The total votes cast was 41,984 against a registered number 118,658 votes representing a 35.38 per cent voter turnout. 

Mariga, while congratulating Imran, said he was happy with how the election had been conducted and was ready to offer any support to the winner to ensure that the residents of Kibra are served effectively.

A number of observers have said the DP did not present Mariga to win the seat but test the waters.

Their argument is that by getting over 10,000 votes, then he can get such pockets of votes in Raila’s strongholds in 2022.

Commentators have also said Ruto threw bait and now knows his friends and enemies ahead of 2022.

Raila last Sunday fronted the three Ukambani governors — Ngilu, Mutua and Kibwana — effectively sidelining his 2013 and 2017 running mate Kalonzo Musyoka.

He is not in good terms with the county chiefs. Kalonzo initially backed Wetang’ula’s candidate, Butichi, but is reported to have directed his Wiper machinery to Mariga a week to the pools, when it became clear it was a three-horse race.

BLAME GAME

But former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale blamed ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Kakamega Senator Moses Wetangula for 'spoiling' Mariga's win in the Kibra by-election.

On the other hand, Lugari MP Ayub Savula on Friday blamed the dismal performance of ANC on “poor strategy”.

Savula, who is also ANC’s party leader, told the Star that abuses hauled at Raila also worked against them.

“I warned them in one of the strategy meetings that we, as a party and our supporters should desist from attacking Raila but they did not listen. The strategy they adopted was annoying that is why it did not work out,” he said.