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Why Kibra by-election attracted 24 candidates

Friday November 8 2019

Kibra

Kibra residents vote in the parliamentary by-election at Ayany Primary School on November 7, 2019. The contest was turned into a battle between proponents of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and Deputy President William Ruto. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUSTUS OCHIENG'
By JUSTUS OCHIENG'
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The just concluded Kibra parliamentary by-election was not only a unique one in terms of the heightened political campaigns, but also the high number of candidates.

At 24, the contestants were probably the highest number in a by-election witnessed in the recent past.

Orange party’s Benard Okoth won the seat after beating 23 rivals including McDonald Mariga (Jubilee), Eliud Owalo (Amani National Congress) and Anaciet Dorn (Development Party), Martin Andati (Modern Alliance Party), Felix Anditi (Independent) and Ibrahim Kimorko (Roots Party).

KIBRA CANDIDATES

On the same ballot paper was Kassim Abdul (The New Democrats), Titus Mutinda (Republican Liberty Party), Fridah Kerubo (Independent), Khamisi Butichi (Ford Kenya), Mathew Musyoka (Independent), Jared Nyakundi (National Liberal Party), Elijah Nyamwamu (National Rainbow Coalition - Kenya), Editar Ochieng’ (Ukweli Party) and Emmanuel Owiti (Green Congress).

Others were David Odanga (Independent), Isaac Ogongo (Justice and Freedom party), Fransco Ojiambo (Party of Democratic Unity), Shedrack Omondi (Independent), Shem Ocharo (Munngano), Abraham Okoth (Independent), Hamida Musa (United Green Movement) and Noah Migudo (Independent)

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Political Scientist Tom Mboya argues that some key individuals with interest in the final outcome may have sponsored candidates with an aim of splitting votes for the benefit of their parties.

"This is just but a conspiracy theory. Since Kibra is cosmopolitan, some big players especially those who wanted to test waters in Kibra might have sponsored candidates from particular communities with an aim of splitting votes in their candidate's favour. But apparently, this did not work out," Mr Mboya, who teaches political science, told the Nation on Friday.

He pointed out that since Kibra has predominantly been Mr Odinga's stronghold, some personalities may have backed certain contenders secretly with an aim of splitting votes in the ODM leader's disadvantage.

GAINING GROUND

But while the swarming of the field could not help rivals take over Mr Odinga’s proverbial Kibra ‘bedroom’, it helped chip away some of his support.

In the 2017 polls, ODM candidate, the late Ken Okoth, marshalled 78 percent of the votes cast but on Thursday, Imran only managed 58 percent.

Jubilee Party, for instance, more than doubled its share of votes from 12 percent to 26 per cent.

“We have demonstrated unprecedented resolve in the face of many odds to proudly double our [percentage] presence in territory otherwise considered no-go & shaming those who betrayed our leader & party,” DP Ruto tweeted on Friday.

“In spite of questionable reinforcements, the con-handshake candidate narrative, the violence/ intimidation, you went past the gate, the door & voted Jubilee a third of 'bedroom'.”

Political analyst Javas Bigambo argues that the Kibra by-election and the long ballot paper demonstrated that city politics are complex and competitive.

"It demonstrated that major political parties want to own a stake of the city by having political representation,” he said.

“Secondly, it was Ruto's chance to test his arsenal of navigating city politics by way of venturing into constituencies that are traditionally firmly aligned to Odinga.”

'POLITICAL JOKERS'

Mr Mboya, who lecturers at Maseno University, noted that whereas every Kenyan has a right to vie for any position, some of those who contested were "political jokers”.

For instance, the independent candidates, according to the don, could not shine because of their personalities.

"Normally, we see those independent candidates shine because for one reason or the other they get disgruntled in the main parties and defect, choosing to go it alone. But from the look of things and due to Kibra's cosmopolitan nature, some hoped to bank of their ethnic groups but that failed.”

This assertion was partly confirmed by ANC nominated MP MP Godfrey Osotsi who said some major players in the Kibra race— like his party, Jubilee and Ford Kenya— went to the campaigns "with an eye on the Luhya votes."

"For instance, Ruto felt that by fronting a Luhya candidate, he would benefit from their numerical number in the Constituency and win,” he said.

“This was also evident in Mudavadi's fronting of Eliud Owalo. He had banked on mobilising the Luhya votes for him and topping up with the Luo votes brought by Owalo. This failed flat on their face.”

Just like Mudavadi and Ruto, he said, Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula also banked on the same tribal block to propel his candidate Khamisi Butichi to Parliament.

"Despite his short-lived alliance with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, their candidate only managed a meagre 260 votes," he said.