Four governors and many aspirants in the Coast are facing a herculean task on whom to pick as their running mates ahead of the August 8 General Election.
Except for Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya and his deputy Fatuma Achani and Lamu’s Issa Timamy and his deputy Eric Mugo being assured, the rest are yet to name their running mates after being deserted by their deputies.
In Mombasa, Governor Hassan Joho is still grappling with who to pick after his deputy, Hazel Katana, dumped him for Jubilee Party on whose ticket she is said to be eyeing the senatorial seat.
Although he has been putting a brave face, the governor, according to close associates has been on a scouting mission to identify an appropriate candidate to fill the gap from the same Mijikenda community of his previous deputy.
“There are many options to pick but the governor must weigh his options from which community to pick so as to tilt the weight on his side,” says one of the political analysts in the county.
His Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi is in the same predicament after losing his deputy Kenneth Kamto to his archrival and Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro.
Through Mr Kamto, the governor scooped many votes from the Rabai and Kaloleni sub-counties.
“Were it not for the larger Kaloleni constituency’s vote basket, Kingi would not have been the governor of Kilifi today,” said the former CS Kazungu Kambi in a recent phone interview.
This realisation, according to close associates of Mr Kingi, has forced the governor to scout for a replacement from Kilifi South, Kaloleni and Rabai constituencies to share spoils for the vast vote bloc of the Chonyi, Giriama, Jibana, Ribe and Rabai Mijikenda subtribes.
Immediately after his deputy Kamto’s exit at Krapf Memorial School grounds’ public rally late February, the governor made a desperate visit to the same venue to complain about his deputy’s departure to the ruling party.
In Taita Taveta, Governor John Mruttu seems to have a similar problem with his deputy Mary Ndigha Mwanyumba-Kibuka expected not to run for any seat due to undisclosed reasons with insiders claiming probably on ‘health grounds’.
With the expected stiff challenge from within National Super Alliance (Nasa) and without, the governor will have to tread carefully on whom he picks as his deputy.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an insider says: “Governor Mruttu will be in a catch-22 situation if his current running mate opts out from the race. This will open a Pandoras Box for him.”
Two weeks ago, Tana River Governor Hussein Dado defected from Wiper to join Jubilee at a rally at Tononoka grounds in Mombasa, received by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy William Ruto.
CHALLENGE HIS BOSS
But Mr Dado’s defection and that of his deputy Jire Siyat Mohammed to the same party complicates matters for the governor who has not been having ‘rosy’ relations with him.
At one time, the deputy from the Wardei community declared his interest and vowed to oust his boss for failing to deliver for the people of the county.
However, after joining the same outfit it remains ‘unclear’ whether they will work together or part ways allowing the governor to pick another running mate from the same Wardei community ahead of August 8 polls.
Jubilee party candidates, Mr Mung’aro who is eyeing the Kilifi gubernatorial seat and Mr Suleiman Shahbal (Mombasa), have already announced their running mates.
Mr Mung’aro has picked Governor Kingi’s former deputy Mr Kamto while Mr Shahbal’s running mate is former assistant minister and Kisauni MP Ananiah Mwaboza.
The Wiper Democratic Party remains in limbo in Mombasa with its two point men – Senator Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Hezron Awiti – both aspiring for the seat.
It is claimed that none of them is ready to deputise the other, with a fall-out between the two being a glaring likelihood.
Governor Joho’s team sourcing for his running mate is said to be burning the midnight oil trying to get a Mijikenda assistant.
This is because the Mijikenda community forms a big block of voters in the county and getting one of them to be running mate is a major boost.
Ms Hazel Katana, a Giriama, is said to have helped Governor Joho a lot in winning after bringing in a big portion of the Mijikenda votes in 2013.
Jubilee’s Shahbal settled on Mr Mwaboza, also a Mijikenda, for similar reasons with the Wiper party said to be sourcing for one too.
Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya Jacinta Mwatela who has received a direct ticket from Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s party Amani National Congress (ANC) has not picked her running mate either.
She will battle incumbent John Mruttu for the Taita Taveta seat. Mr Mruttu’s other challenger, Wundanyi ODM MP Thomas Mwadeghu too, is said to be searching for a running mate.