Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka on Saturday embarked on a two-day campaign in Mutonguni Ward in Kitui County, amid protests from other candidates in the by-election.
Mr Musyoka, accompanied by new Wiper chairman Chirau Mwakwere, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua and MPs Makali Mulu (Kitui Central) Edith Nyenze (Kitui West), Charles Nguna (Mwingi West) Gideon Mulyungi (Mwingi Central) and Julius Mawathe (Embakasi South) campaigned for party nominee Stephen Kithuka.
Split in several campaign teams, the MPs combed the tiny ward as they urged voters not to embarrass Mr Musyoka by rejecting the party candidate.
He will on Sunday lead the Wiper party team comprising MCAs from Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties at a church fundraiser in Muthale market before addressing another campaign rally.
However, rival candidates criticised Mr Musyoka for 'stooping too low' to engage in a “village fight” that had no significance to his presidential ambitions.
The candidates who included Musee Mati (Maendeleo Chap Chap), Alex Nzau (Jubilee) and Mailu Mulonzya (Independent), said they had always supported Mr Musyoka.
Mr Mati, whose successful election petition dragged in courts for almost two years, said a ward by-election was too small for the Wiper leader. He said that the candidates should be allowed to square it off among themselves.
“This heavy involvement by Wiper party signifies panic that their candidate is losing. Mr Musyoka is only setting himself for embarrassment because his candidate, who came a distant third, is losing again,” said Mr Mati.
He argued Wiper already has the majority MCAs in Kitui County Assembly and should not be worried about losing the seat previously held by Narc Party.
After the Court of Appeal nullified the election of Mr Felix Mbevo of Narc, the Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu-led party declined to nominate any candidate. Ms Ngilu said she would work with whoever wins the seat.
Mr Nzau said Mr Musyoka needed the support of all candidates regardless of their party affiliations. He said that his involvement in ward campaigns will dent his national political ambitions.
The petition arose after Kitui West constituency returning officer James Mbai erroneously awarded the election certificate to the candidate who had lost the contest.
Efforts by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials to recall the certificate a day after poll results were announced were dashed after Mr Mbevo rushed to court and obtained an injunction, triggering a series of suits and appeals.
The matter was first heard by Kitui Resident Magistrate who annulled the election, prompting Mr Mbevo to appeal at the High Court. The appeal was heard by Justice Lilian Mutende who upheld the lower court’s decision.
During the hearing, the court was told Mr Mati emerged winner with 3,330 votes against Mr Mbevo’s 3,319, contrary to previous results of 3,071 and 3,273 votes respectively.
The returning officer testified that upon realising his mistake, he immediately wrote to Mr Mbevo, directing him to surrender the certificate as it was erroneously awarded to him.
The “winner” however declined to comply with IEBC directive, forcing Mr Mati to seek redress through the petition.
Mr Mbevo argued that he could not surrender the certificate because this woul rob him of his victory. He claimed that the win reflected the wishes of Mutonguni people.
Court of Appeal judges Erastus Githinji, Philip Waki and Mohammed Warsame ruled that there was no legal room for an MCA election petition appeal to reach the Supreme Court.
While directing IEBC to conduct fresh polls, the three judges ordered Mr Mbevo to pay the costs of the suit to both the petitioner Mr Mati and the IEBC.