If there was one thing Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka was keen on in his campaigns in Ukambani, it was to retain Kitui governor’s seat.
The seat meant many things; one because Kitui is his home county and a loss would mean he has lost grip in his backyard.
Kalonzo ran a spirited campaign to help Dr Julius Malombe retain the seat on a Wiper ticket even as it appeared former Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu and Senator David Musila were out to dislodge him.
Ngilu who won the seat with overwhelming numbers, was keen on resuscitating her political career which suffered a setback in 2013 after losing to Musila in the senatorial race and the humiliation of being hounded out of office by the Jubilee administration as Lands CS.
This explains why Ngilu took the race as a do-or-die affair, fronting a well-oiled grassroots mobilisation and addressing countless meetings in a day, sometimes into the dead of the night.
She also seems to have taken advantage of infighting in Wiper between Governor Malombe and Senator Musila – two protagonists who could not agree on anything – and cleverly latched onto Kalonzo’s coattail to endear herself to the electorate.
With her firebrand, bare knuckle and populism brand of politics, which sometimes sees Ngilu seat on the floor with village women or join them in sensual jigs, she easily overrun Malombe and Musila camps to emerge the winner.
“Unlike her competitors, Ngilu is a populist who knows how to excite people and connect with the masses. She also got a chunk of mileage by appearing to support Kalonzo and NASA in her campaigns,” opined Campbell Munyambu, a Wiper member who threw his lot with Governor Malombe.
Mr Musila who ran as an independent, on the other hand, was out to ‘teach Kalonzo a lesson’ following an acrimonious fallout between the two former political allies after the senator lost to Malombe in Wiper primaries. After his loss, Musila resigned as Wiper chairman and bitterly blamed Kalonzo for his loss.
Musila’s goose appeared to have been cooked when he failed to consolidate his larger Mwingi home turf where Ngilu, running with Wathe Nzau, a laid back veterinary doctor from Mui coal basin, hived off a huge chunk of votes.
A seasoned politician with a formidable financial muscle, Ngilu hyped her political rhetoric to interior parts of the county and avoided major centres like Kitui, Mutomo and Mwingi towns where people routinely called on her to account for funds meant for Umaa dam at the heart of Kitui Central which stalled during her reign as water minister in the grand coalition government.
Musila who was second with 108,635 votes against Ngilu’s 162,768 has conceded defeat.