The squatter problem and hunger that is affecting residents of Kilifi County has lately come to dominate gubernatorial campaigns.
Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro of Jubilee Party, former Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi of Kadu Asili and Mr James Kahindi Mangi (independent) are seeking to unseat Governor Amason Kingi of ODM party.
The battle is obviously between Mr Kingi, Mr Mung’aro and Mr Kambi, who have changed their campaign tactics of meeting opinion leaders before holding rallies later this month.
But in their latest campaigns, they have shifted their focus to tearing into opponents’ manifestos and comparing achievements of the county and national governments.
On several occasions, Mr Kingi has been attacking the ruling Jubilee government for frustrating devolution and under-developing the region, while criticising Kadu Asili’s call for five-piece voting.
Mr Kingi campaigns with Senator Stewart Madzayo, Kilifi Woman Rep candidate Gertrude Mbeyu, among others leaders, while Mr Kambi is usually accompanied by Kadu Asili senatorial candidate Lucas Maitha, a former Malindi MP.
At the same time, Mr Kingi has been urging residents to elect the Nasa presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga, describing him as “the father of devolution, who will empower counties with adequate funds for development”.
In his campaigns, Mr Kingi has been taken to task on development in Malindi, Kilifi South, Rabai, Ganze, Magarini, Kilifi South and Kaloleni Sub Counties.
“I have a record of development such as the ECD schools and polytechnics. Secondary and primary schools are the responsibility of the national government,” Mr Kingi said at Magarini.
On the other hand, Mr Mung’aro, the regional Jubilee pointman, campaigns with a team comprising Jubilee Woman Rep candidate Amina Mnyanzi, senatorial aspirant Ken Nyale and Watamu MCA Ibrahim Matumbo.
On several occasions, during rallies and opinion leaders’ meeting, Mr Kingi has been questioning why Mr Kambi urges people to vote for Kadu Asili governor and legislators while they decide the president for themselves.
“Electing Kadu Asili will deprive coast residents of development since they have failed to recognise that the President holds a lion’s share of national resources compared to governors,” Mr Kingi said at Marereni.
But Mr Mung’aro and Mr Kambi have countered these claims, saying the governor should first account for the billions of shillings the county received from the national government.
“It is absurd that a junior employee earning less than Sh30,000 per month now has mansions built from taxpayers’ money while the governor constructs a Sh150 million house when people are dying of hunger,” Mr Mung’aro said at Gede.
In his campaigns, Mr Mungaro has been proclaiming Jubilee Party’s achievements in the region from the rooftops.
He cites the ongoing tarmacking of the 110km Malindi-Sala Gate Road, Mariakani-Bamba road, Sabaki-Marafa, Sh2.4 billion Kakuyuni-Gongoni-Kilifi road, among others.
“It is time we shifted from empty rhetoric by the Opposition who have nothing to offer but only criticise Jubilee projects,” he said at Mtwapa.
Both Mr Mung’aro and Mr Kingi picked their running mates from Rabai.
They are outgoing Kilifi deputy governor Kenneth Kamto and Mr Gideon Samburi, respectively.
Mr Mung’aro has also pledged to introduce a fund — Kilifi Higher Education Loans Board — to assist students across the county to access higher education.
The loan is repayable when the beneficiary secures employment.
On the other hand, Mr Kambi on Saturday said that he will solve land and hunger issues through Kadu Asili party, claiming that he understands the problems of the locals more.
“We will utilise water from River Sabaki for irrigation, desalinate Indian Ocean salty water for irrigation and home use, construct level four hospitals once we come into power,” he said at a rally in Malindi Municipal Stadium.
He also said he is the only gender sensitive gubernatorial candidate by choosing Maureen Mwangovia, a former Pwani University lecturer as his running mate.
Mr Kambi, who was accompanied by the Kadu Asili parliamentary aspirant, Dr Harry Mwimali, accused Mr Kingi of failing to deliver through his ODM party.
“This is why we need to have a coast-based party that shall journey with you. Once we come into power, fruit and vegetable vendors will be exempted from paying taxes to eradicate poverty,” he added.
Mr Mangi, the independent gubernatorial candidate, for his part, also promised to exempt vegetable vendors from tax and introduce benevolent funds of Sh50,000 to ease funeral expenses.
“Jobless youths shall also be paid a stipend of Sh15,000 by the county until they secure jobs while old people will receive Sh15,000 support,” he added.