Kiambu Governor William Kabogo. (Photo: Beverlyne Musili/Standard)
An elephantine battle is supposed to be on for the Kiambu governor’s seat pitting William Kabogo against Ferdinand (Babayao) Waititu.
But Kiambu and Thika towns have remained uncharacteristically silent in an election season. There is nothing on the ground to show the county has 60 days to retain or vote out its governor.
Perhaps the lack of fizz has to do with Governor William Kabogo’s make-over as he sheds the “arrogant” tag his enemies never tire of sticking on him. Gone are his rides in Range Rovers, Jaguars and Hummers. He recently shocked residents when he arrived for a pre-IEBC nomination aspirants meeting in a Uber cab. And the other day he was in a modest barber’s shop for a haircut. Last week in Ruiru, the governor shocked residents after walked into a local Kinyozi for a shave.
And as if that was not enough, he walked to a nearby shoe shiner where he had his shoes cleaned. He also has been making rounds in social places without numerous bodyguards.
This is contrary to the run-up to the 2013 elections when the county bubbled with activity. The battle then pitted Kabogo against Dr James Nyoro. The senatorial race attracted billionaire Stanley Githunguri, former Limuru MP George Nyanja and the incumbent, Kimani Wamatangi.
Then, Kiambu, Thika, Kikuyu and Limuru, among other towns, were abuzz with political activity as the aspirants met residents to pitch for their candidature. And the youth had money in their pockets. Now things are different, with two months to the elections.
The usual loudspeakers and caravans synonymous with campaigns of the magnitude of a general election are nowhere to be found. The heated political activities that were witnessed prior to the 2013 General Election are missing and the youths are sober.
“This year’s election is different since there is reduced political activity compared to previous elections. There is no money as has been the case in the past,” said Andrew Njuguna, a resident of Kiambu town.
And as the politicians largely shy away from conventional methods of doing campaigns, the social media is emerging as the main platform where the aspirants have taken their campaigns wars.
Several Facebook pages, among them United States of Kiambu, Gatundu South News and Home ni Lari, have been formed where lobbying and intense political campaigns have been taking place.
A number of WhatsApp groups among them Kiambu Opinion Polls, Kiambu Social politico and Jubilee Party-Kiambu among other have also been formed.
In this year’s governorship race, Kabogo is facing off with his political nemesis, Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu. The two bitter political rivals who are both graduates of Punjab University in India have each exuded confidence of securing a win in the forthcoming polls.
Kabogo will be defending his seat as an independent candidate after he quit the Jubilee Party after being handed a humiliating defeat by Waititu in primaries held in April. Waititu garnered 353,604 votes against Kabogo’s 69,916.
Many thought with the entry of Waititu into the county politics, the campaign would be the most exciting. Prior to the primaries, the county however witnessed robust campaigns with both Kabogo and Waititu holding mammoth rallies in all major towns as vote hunting went full throttle. Three days to the primaries, however marked the turning point after social media was awash with allegations that Kabogo had abused voters, particularly women.
Speaking in Kiambu town after being cleared by IEBC to last week, Kabogo said the claims were propaganda peddled by his rivals a few days to the primaries, which led to his loss.
“Let God strike me with leprosy if indeed I insulted women. I also pray to God to let those who crafted the propaganda against me to be stricken with leprosy,” he cursed. He said he had never insulted women, adding they were duped by his political detractors into believing that he had used offensive language against them.
During the primaries’ campaigns, Kabogo shocked residents with military-style vehicles in his campaign. However, since he announced that he would be running as an independent candidate, Kabogo seems to have been on a mission to re-brand himself.
For Waititu, who is leading a group dubbed ‘United for Kiambu’, the approach is different. The populist Kabete MP has been making impromptu visits to markets, bus parks, funerals and church functions. His campaign is devoid of high-end vehicles and conspicuous body guards. He has also been conducting silent and underground campaigns.
The Jubilee governorship nominee has lined up meetings with farmers and butchers fortheir votes.