Nairobi businessman Maluki Mwendwa has received a huge boost after five out of six members of the Kitu County Assembly from Kitui West Constituency endorsed him to run for the parliamentary seat left vacant by the death of Francis Nyenze.
The by-election will be held on March 26 and will be preceded by party primaries.
Mr Mwendwa is the son of former MP Nyiva Mwendwa, the first Kenyan woman to serve as a Cabinet minister.
MCAs David Thuvi (Kwa Mutonga), Sylvester Kitheka (Matinyani), Felix Mbevo (Mutonguni), Esther Ndile (Nominated) and Florence Singi (Nominated) endorsed Mr Mwendwa saying he was the best candidate to succeed Mr Nyenze.
Speaking during Mwendwa’s campaign launch, the MCAs said he is the best candidate to take Kitui West to the next level and that as grassroots leaders, they have an obligation to guide the electorate in making the right choices.
They urged voters to choose their next MP wisely and avoid being swayed by trivial considerations.
“We have many candidates running, but considering all factors, Maluki is the best in terms ability, exposure, temperament and accessibility by all people” Mr Thuvi said during the launch at Matinyani market.
Mr Thuvi and his colleagues urged voters to pick the young Mwendwa during Tuesday’s Wiper party nominations saying he has the best credentials in articulating the issues affecting the constituency in the National Assembly.
Mr Mwendwa, is battling for the Wiper ticket with Mr Nyenze’s widow, Edith Vethi Nyenze, who is being backed by Kauwi MCA Jane Mutua.
Mr Mwendwa promised serve all people without bias or favour if elected, saying his candidacy represents a fresh start in managing the affairs of the constituency, and urged voters to first elect him as Wiper party’s candidate.
“As a newcomer in politics, I represent renewed freshness and hope for the future. I am confident of winning the Wiper ticket and I urge voters to pick a candidate who can deliver the seat to Wiper and the Nasa coalition,” Mr Mwendwa said.
The aspirant whose late father Kitili Mwendwa and mother Nyiva Mwendwa served as MPs of the area joins the race buoyed by the political legacy of his parents who enjoyed huge following in their heydays.
The prominent Mwendwa family is known for the exceptional firsts where his late father was Kenya’s first African Chief Justice while his mother was the country’s first woman Cabinet minister.
However, the young Mwendwa urged voters to evaluate his leadership capabilities as an individual saying his parents had their chance to serve the area and now it is the time for a younger generation to propel the constituency to greater heights of development.
“It is time for our generation to lead and serve our great constituency. I’ll be your servant as we deal with our social and economic challenges in a truly inclusive and consultative approach,” he said.
The campaign launch was graced by 15 MCAs from other constituencies, business and church leaders who endorsed him for the seat and urged voters to choose their next MP wisely.
He urged other aspirants including his main rival in Wiper primaries, Mr Nyenze’s widow, Edith Nyenze, to conduct peaceful campaigns and challenged them to a televised debate on who has the best manifesto, exposure, temperament and passion to serve.
Mrs Nyenze dismissed social media reports linking her to a secret State House visit last week.
Speaking through her young brother, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, she denied reports that she was taken by former Kitui senator David Musila to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta to be condoled for her husband’s death as fabricated to dent her loyalty to the Wiper party.
The unverified reports have caused uproar among Wiper loyalists who may not want an MP who will play double standards once elected.
The late Nyenze shocked party faithful in June 2017 when he openly called for the re-election of President Kenyatta, despite being the minority leader in the National Assembly.
Mrs Nyenze, a former secondary school principal, retired last year from the Retirement Benefits Authority while Mr Mwendwa has been the chairman of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).
The Wiper primaries pitting the young Mwendwa and Mrs Nyenze rekindle memories of the Nyiva Mwendwa-Francis Nyenze political rivalry of yesteryears and present a dilemma for Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka because the two leading candidates seeking his party’s ticket are his bosom friends.
Mr Nyenze was the minority leader in the last parliament having been nominated to the plum position by Mr Musyoka, while Maluki’s family has a long standing relationship with the former vice president dating as back to the 1980s.