By Oscar Obonyo
But unpalatable drama was not limited to the Nyanza region constituency where ODM holds sway. There were equally fierce battles in Kangema and Kajiado North constituencies, where a new outfit – The National Alliance (TNA) – is fighting for ground.
The experiences of Ndhiwa, Kangema, and Kajiado North give a glimpse of what might transpire in regions dominated by particular political parties, in the elections. Owing to this factor, competition is a do-or-die affair as winners in party primaries are almost assured of victory in the main poll.
This is the case in Nyanza where Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM is dominant, Ukambani (Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement), and central Kenya (Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA). Similarly, Eldoret North MP William Ruto’s United Republican Party is the party of choice in parts of Rift Valley.
These are the probable hotspots ahead of next year’s polls, as aspirants here have little manoeuvre of choice of parties and stand a high risk of falling victim to poll fraud. In Ndhiwa, for instance, a record 36 hopefuls lined up on the ODM ticket in an ill-tempered exercise.
Although some parties have proposed to engage services of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), none has actualised this. TNA, however, used the IEBC poll registers in a move protested by an aspirant in Kajiado North, Peter Parsimei Gitau.
And owing to stiff competition, most parties kept off the exercise. According to New Ford Kenya Secretary General Benjamin Muema, the party did not field a candidate in Ndhiwa, for instance, because the party does not enjoy much support in the area.
“With regard to Kajiado North and Kangema parliamentary seats, New Ford-Kenya simply opted to support candidates of TNA of which we are in partnership with,” says Muema.
But where the party shied away because of limited support, it compensated at civic level in Trans Nzoia County – the backyard of party leader and Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa. “We had a crowded field of more than 10 aspirants in each of the two wards, and I can assure you although we pulled through with minimum protests, it was a challenge,” says Muema.
No doubt the challenge would have been bigger and the stakes higher, had the contest been over a parliamentary seat. As the New Ford-Kenya official aptly puts it, competition for the two civic slots in Trans Nzoia was competitive because victory on the party “is almost a sure shot at the seat”.