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Rosemary Odinga complicates Kibra math

Analysts say the opposition leader is keen to pass on the baton to the next generation Odinga in case he does not win the presidency.

In what appears to be a norm in Kenya’s game of dynasties, all the famous political families have strived to keep leadership within the family. President Uhuru Kenyatta is believed to be grooming his son Muhoho while Deputy President William Ruto is believed to be preparing his son Nick for politics.

The fallout between Raila Odinga and his former aide, Eliud Owalo, caused by the entry of the Cord leader’s daughter Rosemary in the race for the Kibra constituency seat, has complicated matters for the ODM party in one of its most solid political backyards. It is also seen as solidifying the existence of political dynasties.

Strategically, it appears the Kibra seat would be an easy sail for Mr Odinga’s second born since he held the constituency for 20 years, from 1992-2013. In addition the area is believed to contain some of the Cord leader’s die-hard supporters.

However, other contestants who think Ms Odinga will have an unfair advantage are up in arms as reality dawns.

‘HIS DAUGHTER’

“Raila should stop trying to reclaim the Kibra seat through his daughter. I don’t want her to be imposed on the people. I believe in objectivity,” Mr Owalo told the Nation.

Ms Odinga, who came into the limelight in early 2015 had kept under wraps her intentions to vie for the Kibra seat until last Saturday when she led a voter registration drive in Kibera slum.

She was accompanied by ODM Nairobi chairman George Aladwa, Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and Homabay Senator Moses Kajwang who all “pleaded” with her to vie for the seat amidst cheers from the crowd. She said: “Whatever you have said is what I will do, I will vie for this seat.”

Analysts, however, say that by vying for the Kibra seat, Ms Odinga could disadvantage her father’s quest to be president as his political enemies would discredit him on this.

“By going for the Kibra seat, this might be the crack that everybody outside who doesn’t agree with her father politically has been waiting for,” says Dr Joshua Kivuva of the University of Nairobi’s Department of Political Science.

‘EXCEPTIONAL QUALITIES’

“She has a right to vie for any seat since she is Kenyan but I don’t think she has any exceptional qualities in leadership other than being an Odinga,” says Dr Kivuva, adding “but looking at politics as an enterprise with good returns if your name is an Odinga and you vie for Kibra, it would be like opening a retail business and your family is the manufacturer so she is likely to win.”

The current MP has been running a door-to-door campaign to urge residents to register as voters.

“It is easy to underestimate people. I am only in control of the fact that I am in the Kibra 2017 parliamentary race for the long haul, but I am not in control of who my competitors will be,” Mr Okoth said on Friday as he toured the region.

During Mr Okoth’s time Kibra, which for a long time has been known for poverty, was twice ranked best nationally in the usage of the Constituency Development Fund.

His support for government poverty eradication projects also paved the way for the NYS, slum electrification, construction of tarmacked roads and permanent houses by the Kenya railways in order to move encroachers from the tracks.

Mr Ochieng Jera, who recently vacated his position as ODM chair in Langata in order to vie as MCA in Lindi, says he has no problem with Mr Okoth running again but it will be the people who will decide.

‘NEGATIVE WAY’

“I cannot discuss Okoth in a negative way. If he wins the ODM nomination I will vote for him. Both Rosemary and Owalo are Kenyans and they have a right to vie for any seat. But the negative politics being brought by Mr Owalo will not be condoned,” he says.

In response Mr Owalo says he is not disrespecting the ODM party but he only wants them to play fair.

“I don’t fear falling out with Raila.I believe in objective loyalty and not sycophancy,” he says.

If she wins the Kibra seat, Ms Rosemary will join dozens of other sons or daughters of prominent politicians who have continued the political dynasties of their families by keeping power within their blood lines.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s and Mr Odinga’s fathers were in the independence government as head of state and prime minister respectively. Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is retired president Daniel Moi’s son while Musalia Mudavadi’s father was an MP and Minister.

Former Coast political kingpin Noah Katana Ngala became MP just two years after his father died in 1972. In Rift Valley former ODM chair Henry Kosgey want to be the governor Nandi County while his sons Alex, the sitting Emgwen MP will defend his seat as Alan will be vying for the Kesses seat.

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