Chama Cha Mashinani Party Nakuru gubernatorial aspirant Dr Peter Koros (left, pointing) and Nakuru ODM Chairman Peter Ole Osono lead a team of local NASA officials in an inspection tour of Afraha Stadium – Annex in Nakuru on May 13, 2017 ahead of a political rally. [Photo/Suleiman Mbatiah/Standard]
With exactly a month to the August 8 General Election, aspirants from four political parties as well as those vying on an independent ticket scrambling to outdo each other, and it will take the most resolute of them to secure seats in the largely cosmopolitan Nakuru County.
Four political parties — Jubilee, Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), Kanu and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) — have all fielded candidates for the gubernatorial, senatorial, Women Representative and Ward Representative positions.
Nakuru, with an ethnic representation of almost all the 43 communities in Kenya, is a county of opportunity where no party overwhelmingly dominates.
And even though Jubilee may have an edge, the independent candidates and the resurgence of Kanu and CCM could complicate matters for it as it seeks to get 11 seats in the National Assembly and another 55 in the county assembly.
In the gubernatorial race, the former National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) chairman Lee Kinyanjui, will face off against five candidates after the incumbent Kinuthia Mbugua withdrew. Among those who have thrown their hat in the ring are former National Campaign Against Drugs and Alcohol Abuse chairman John Mututho, Senator James Mungai and Isaiah Gichanga Kariuki — all vying as independents — as well as Peter Koros (CCM), and Paul Njoroge (Kanu).
Ethnic arithmetic and the choice of running mates will therefore be key.
Kinyanjui has picked Dr Erick Korir as his running mate in a bid to win votes from the populous Kalenjin community while CCM’s Mr Koros picked James Michoma from the Abagusii community.
Even though he secured the Jubilee nomination, Kinyanjui is not leaving anything to chance.
“We are alive to the emerging challenge posed by independent candidates,” said Kinyanjui who noted that a good number candidates are motivated to serve by less altruistic motives.
Kinyanjui then beats his own drum and says his entry to the race is driven by a desire to fight corruption and ensure that the county’s resources are distributed equitably.
Some of the contestants have been criticised for their choice of running mate. One of them is
Senator Mungai whose choice of scholar Dr Stanley Karanja may not win him support from members of other ethnic groups.
“Nakuru County is cosmopolitan and it will be hard for Mr Mungai to convince voters from the Kalenjin, Luo, Luhya and other ethnic communities represented in the county that he will be sensitive to their interests,” observed Andrew Nyabuto, a local political commentator.
However, Mungai has down played these fears and said his choice of running mate should not be viewed as a move to isolate other communities in the management of county affairs.
Candidates outside the Jubilee axis are hoping that partly affiliation will not sway voters. Kanu’s Njoroge is particularly averse to what is now known as six-piece voting where the strong parties are pushing for all candidates elected at the primaries to get votes from party supporters during the elections. This is in reference to calls from the party’s leadership that supporters should only vote for the six candidates who secured nominations in the Jubilee primaries. This would include candidates for the governorship, the senate, the national assembly, the county assembly, the woman’s representative position as well as the presidency.
“Voters have to demonstrate to politicians who short changed them by rigging that you can be fooled once but not always,” Njoroge said.
The senate race is as good as a done deal for the Jubilee Party since none of the political heavyweights who lost in the primaries will be on the ballot on August 8 to take on overwhelming favourite Susan Kihika.
Even veteran politician Koigi Wamwere, who was among five candidates defeated by Kihika in the Jubilee primaries and has since shifted his political allegiance to NASA, will have his work cut out.
Other candidates vying for the senate are Omondi Ogada (ODM), Margaret Kiiru, a Jubilee nominated MCA, Mokoma Munyuthe (Independent), Jacob Mengich (Mazingira Party), Kenneth Odongo (Agano Party) and Daniel Rono.
For the County Woman Representative seat, CCM and ODM have fielded candidates in a contest that has attracted 13 women— among them four independent candidates.
Zipporah Kimani, Agnes Githinji, Sheila Mungai, Mary Ndegwa and incumbent Mary Mbugua will vie as independent candidates.
Jubilee candidate Liza Chelule is hoping to consolidate the Kalenjin vote and receive support of other communities to raise her prospects of victory.
She will battle out with Grace Karuga (Kanu), Gladys Kamuren (CCM) and ODM’s Asha Rashid.
Others in the race are Assumpta Wangui (Maendeleo Chap Chap), Sakina Said (Safina), Janet Wangui (Vision Party of Kenya) and Hellen Moraa (Republican Labour Party).