Rivals for senate position rush to catch voter’s eye

With just 10 days to the August 8 General Election, the Mombasa senate seat does not seem to excite voters, with a large number of them saying they are not decided who to vote for.

According to an Infotrak poll released this week, a whopping 62.5 per cent of voters in the county are not sure who to vote for as their Senator.

All the National Super Alliance (Nasa) parties have fielded candidates in the race.

They are Mohamed Faki (ODM), Lawrence Kisilu (Wiper) and Yasser Bajaber (Ford Kenya).

Deputy Governor Hazel Katana is the Jubilee Party candidate while Jabes Oduor and Hamisi Mwaguya are running as independent candidates.

Others in the crowded race are Habel Chome (Shirikisho Party), Wawuda Florence (Vibrant Democratic Party) and Yaa Stephen Mule (Maendeleo Chap Chap Party).

According to analysts, the huge number of undecided voters for the seat is as a result of failure by the candidates to sell their agenda to the electorate.

READ: ‘Undecided’ voters could tilt the scales

Mr Geoffreyson Khamala, University of Nairobi political science lecturer, says the candidates have not exposed themselves enough for voters to decide who to vote for.

“Nearly all the contestants are relatively new and have not properly sold their agenda to the electorate.

“In this scenario, you expect that the voters are likely to be swayed any direction in the last days to the election,” Mr Khamala said.

The seat does not have an incumbent since Senator Hassan Omar is running for the governor seat.

READ: Hassan Omar cut his teeth in student politics

Mr Mwaguya, who quit a plum job in the county government to run for the senate seat, expresses confidence that he will win the seat, saying he is the most experienced on county operations.

The candidate took a swipe at the current assembly, saying their sessions have been reduced into political party meetings and there was no transformative law that was ever passed.

“If you look at the way business was being conducted at the county you realise that there was nothing going on.

“The senator did not also collaborate with the governor, the reason nothing was done,” Mr Mwaguya said.

All the MCAs in the county are from ODM party.

Mr Mwaguya, who held the various positions of county secretary, chief of staff, executive for Trade and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s economic adviser, said he is the best candidate for the seat, adding that once elected he would work with the elected governor for the sake of the people of Mombasa.

“The practice of huddling people together like sheep and goats in parties has worked against service delivery.

“I am not aligned to any party and that is the kind of leader Mombasa needs to realise meaningful development,” he said.

Mr Mwaguya has been critical of ODM’s call for a six-piece voting pattern in the August elections.

He said the voting pattern will lock out good leaders.

He dismissed the call by ODM leader Raila Odinga and his deputy, Governor Joho, for voters to elect only ODM candidates and instead urged the voters not to be swayed by the politicians.

“People should not be cheated to vote along political party lines or six piece voting system. They should vote for leaders and not those who have been imposed on them,” he said.

The candidate views himself as neutral and does not support any gubernatorial candidate vying in the county, adding that he decided to vie as an independent because he wants to liberate the people from the bondage of political parties through servant leadership.

“I will devolve services even further to the sub-counties and even to the wards.

“Once elected I will ensure that each sub-county has an office where residents can seek all services offered at the county headquarters,” he said.  

Mr Mwaguya received a major boost after more than 100 elders from Likoni sub-county endorsed his candidature.

Chairman of the Likoni elders Suleiman Mwamzuka said they decided to throw their weight behind Mr Mwaguya because he is a good leader who will change their lives.

“I will also guard funds from the national government. I am the people’s watchdog.

“The power belongs to the people,” he said Thursday during his endorsement ceremony at Likodep hall in Likoni.

According to Abdulsalam Kasim, who was trounced by Hazel Katana in the nominations for the Jubilee ticket, the party stands a chance to win the seat.

He says he is working with Ms Katana and has told his supporters to vote for her.

He believes that the deputy governor is ahead of the rest.

“The polls are giving Faki a head start but I don’t think he will win the seat.

“I was far ahead of him and now that I am campaigning for Katana I don’t think he has a chance of taking the seat. In fact, I would rank him third after Mwaguya,” he told Nation in a telephone interview.

However, analysts agree that although Mr Faki is said to be leading, the undecided voter block is too huge to give him a win and might be swayed in any direction.

Mr Khamala says most people in Mombasa might be inclined to vote for the party – ODM – in which case Mr Faki stands a chance to win.

However, Mr Mwaguya is also in a position to benefit from the ODM popularity dividends, given his earlier dalliance with the party bigwigs including Governor Hassan Joho.

Mr Faki however exuded confidence that he will trounce his rivals, saying he enjoys a lot of support from the electorate.

According to Mr Khamala, Mr Mwaguya would benefit from the undecided vote if he works hard in the next remaining days to the poll.

“I see a situation where Mwaguya could upset the scales if he works harder in the next few days because after Faki, he is the next popular,” he said.

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