Kisii swing vote label gave Uhuru much needed votes

Kisii County has lived to its billing – that it is indeed a swing vote zone.

Contrary to expectation, President Uhuru Kenyatta performed well in the region, garnering 174,978 votes (43.22 per cent) against Nasa leader Raila Odinga’s 224,317 votes (55.40 per cent).

Despite Mr Odinga getting more votes in the county, the fact that President Kenyatta got 43 per cent of the votes cast boosted his national tally, enabling him to retain his seat at State House.

The President’s results in the region were an improvement from what he attained in 2013, where he received 95,596 (27.8 per cent) votes against Mr Odinga’s 236,831 (68.8 per cent) votes.

Interestingly, the county’s top seat went to ODM.

Governor James Ongwae was re-elected after attaining 206,110 votes.

He defeated outgoing Kisii Senator Chris Obure, who had 110,760 votes.

According to Dr Samuel Kiondi, a political analyst and philosophy don at Kenya Methodist University, the current trend in Kisii County is a show of political maturity.

“The fact that they have elected local leaders from ODM and given a good number of votes to President Kenyatta is an indication that Gusii people are mature politically,” he said.

The analyst points out that President Kenyatta made inroads in the region.

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Dr Kiondi, who hails from South Mugirango, said by re-electing Governor Ongwae, voters from the region showed that they have faith in their local leaders.

“The Jubilee leadership may not have been competent enough and Ongwae and his team seemed to have been the best choice for them. The community has faith in their services,” he said.

He added that the governor’s competitors may not have been in touch with this reality on the ground.

This explains why the local Jubilee leadership was heavily defeated.

Jubilee’s top candidates among them Mr Obure, former Constitution Implementation Commission chairman Charles Nyachae, who contested the senatorial seat, and Woman Rep candidate Dorice Aburi, all lost.

In addition, four of the MPs who defected to Jubilee ahead of the August 8 election were ousted.

In Bobasi Constituency, Mr Innocent Obiri of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defeated Mr Stephen Manoti, the Jubilee candidate, who came second.

In Bomachoge Borabu, an independent candidate, Prof Zadoc Agutu, defeated Jubilee’s Joel Onyancha.

In Bomachoge Chache, KNC candidate Alfah Miruka won after defeating the Jubilee candidate, Mr Simon Ogari, who came third.

In Bonchari, Mr John Oroo Oyioka of Peoples Democratic Party won against Jubilee’s Zebedeo Opore.

Despite ODM garnering all the top county seats, the party did not manage a single parliamentary seat as small parties carried the day.

Dr Kiondi believes it is the need for service delivery by Kisii residents that saw small parties being rewarded by the electorate.

“Omogusii want development. All they want is a straightforward leader and one who delivers. Parties are in the distant,” he said.

PDP and KNC parties each won two parliamentary seats. National Agenda Party of Kenya and an independent candidate each won a seat.

Mr Richard Tongi of Nyaribari Chache and Mr Jimmy Angwenyi of Kitutu Chache North retained their seats.

They were among MPs who defected to Jubilee.

The parliamentary election was not held in Kitutu Chache South following the death of the Jubilee candidate two weeks to the poll.

IEBC postponed the election to a later date.

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Mr Ongwae’s running mate Joash Maangi is a happy man following the outcome of the gubernatorial poll.

Mr Maangi returned to ODM, almost a year after he defected to Jubilee.

“I rejoined ODM after assessing the mood and feelings of our supporters. I defected back to ODM because of frustrations in Jubilee,” he said.

In the run-up to last Tuesday’s elections, Mr Ongwae had come out as a strong politician fighting for the rights of his community.

“The Jubilee government has given members of the Gusii community a raw deal through empty promises.

“Voters from this region are sharp people and are need of projects and not empty talks,” he said.

He added: “President Uhuru Kenyatta launched roads on his tour of Gusii region but the construction equipment left on the very day.”

The results of the General Election are not very different from polls conducted by Infotrak, a few weeks to the August 8 Election that put Mr Ongwae at 60.1 per cent while Mr Obure had 16.9 per cent.

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The group’s victory may have come as a result of their organisation where they jointly held several meetings and conducted rallies across the county.

The axis of the triple O’s – Ongeri, Ongwae and Ongera – seemed to have worked magic.

Prof Sam Ongeri won the senatorial seat with 188,375 votes.

His closest competitor and former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara (PDP) came second with 118,688 votes.

Mr Nyachae came a distant third with 71,747 votes.

Mr Nyachae was the top Jubilee campaigner in Nyanza region.

The Infotrak poll results put Prof Ongeri ahead with 36.9 per cent.

He is among respected elders from Gusii and decamped to ODM from Jubilee.

His move to the Opposition was seen as a big blow to the ruling party.

Soon after his defection, he mounted a major political protest against a government he had served with loyalty for so long.

“Members of the Gusii community pay taxes just like other Kenyans and it is wrong to discriminate against them when it comes to development.

“The community should be treated fairly especially in the sharing of the national cake,” Prof Ongeri said during a campaign trail in Keumbu.

In the Woman Rep race, outgoing nominated Senator Janet Ongera won with 171,492 votes against Ms Aburi, a former journalist, who came second with 144,973 votes.

This is contrary to the Infotrak poll that put Ms Aburi ahead with 51.9 per cent as Ms Ongera got 29.4 per cent.

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