The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is having a nightmare settling on a candidate for the Kwale senatorial seat left vacant following the death of Boy Juma Boy.
Although the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has indicated there will be no by-election for the seat, ODM has been working round the clock to identify a flag-bearer for the August polls.
The party, which swept most of the seats at the Coast in the 2013 General Election is also in a dilemma in its efforts to find a replacement for Governor Salim Mvurya who has shifted allegiance to Jubilee Party.
The entry of former Kenya’s ambassador to Tanzania Chirau Ali Mwakwere in the race for Kwale governorship, has complicated matters, with some of its supporters viewing him as a spent force and a latecomer.
Mr Mwakwere decamped from JP to ODM and announced his interest for the seat having lost in the senatorial race to the late Boy in the 2013 vote.
ODM is exploring how to identify a credible candidate to replace the late Juma Boy and a challenger for Governor Mvurya.
PUSH FOR BY-ELECTION
Party officials have been burning the mid-night oil since the sudden death of Senator Boy on February 12, in a bid to find solutions to these and other challenges.
Another major challenge that has popped up is how to deal with influence and control of the Coast votes by ODM Deputy Party leader Hassan Joho who is also the Mombasa governor.
A meeting chaired by the ODM branch chairman and Matuga MP Hassan Mwanyoha on Sunday at Ukunda stated that any influence from outside the county would be met with great resistance.
“We resolved at the meeting that we completely reject influence from Mombasa or any other quarter to endorse a candidate for us, either for the Senate or Governor’s seat As Kwale people, we should be left alone to decide our destiny because we are not foolish,” said Mr Simon Mwero Mkala, a running mate for Mr Mwakwere who attended the meeting.
The other agenda at the meeting was how to push for a by-election following the death of Senator Juma Boy.
This came in the wake of reports that there would be no by-election in Kwale and Nyeri where Governor Nderitu Gachagua has also died. This is due to the fact that the General Election is almost at hand.
“It’s our right as Kwale people that we must have representation after the death of our Senator. If IEBC says that it will not conduct a by-election, this will mean we remain for six months without a representative which is a violation of our rights.
REJECTION OF ‘NEWCOMERS’
Furthermore, the Constitution is explicit that there has to be a by-election within 90 days after a seat is vacated,” said the branch vice-chairman Nicholas Zani.
Mr Zani said it was also clear at the meeting that there was increasing rejection of “newcomers” to the party.
“We cannot accept projects to come here and get the party tickets at the expense of people who have been with the party and built it to its current strength and popularity today,” said Msambweni sub-county ODM chairlady Fatuma Juma.
She said there has been concerted efforts from Mr Joho “to impose his preferred candidates on the people of Kwale” saying this would not happen.
In a telephone interview last week, nominated Senator Agnes Zani warned that political differences among members will jeopardize the party’s chances.
“The main race is in August 8 and these endorsements will block our way of handling our main opponents in the coming elections,” she said.
Several delegations have visited Mr Zani at his father’s Golini home to try to convince him to go for the Senate seat in the event that there was a by-election and over to the August polls.
“Delegations have approached me and it has been difficult for me to decide because I also want to run for governor. But pressure has mounted so much that it has overwhelmed me and I think saying no is almost impossible. It’s therefore a concluded issue that I will go for the Senate both in a by-election and the August 8 polls” said Mr Zani on phone.