Why ward election was do-or-die for Raila, Ruto

ODM Candidate Reuben Katana celebrates his victory at Kaloneni's Takaye primary school in Kilifi County.
Ganda Ward by-election came to an end on Friday with a win for ODM candidate Reuben Katana whose uncle Ngumbao Jola was gunned down in his home on Tuesday.

It is Tuesday’s unsolved murder of Jola that led to the arrest of Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and her aide Geoffrey Okuto.

Jumwa, who is estranged from ODM was the force behind independent candidate Abdulrahman Omar, with alleged financial support from DP William Ruto.

The by-election exposed the rapidly changing power dynamics and alliances. To begin with, Omar was elected to the Kilifi County Assembly on an ODM ticket on August 8, 2017 but was ousted after a protracted court battle spearheaded by Katana, who had vied on Kadu Asili ticket.

SEE ALSO :Jumwa in trouble over Malindi killing

After winning the court battle, Katana defected to ODM and was nominated to vie in the by-election.

This irked Omar and Jumwa, with the MP claiming she had not been consulted in the nomination.

Although Jubilee had nominated its candidate Joseph Kiponda, Jumwa who is allied to the DP’s Jubilee faction never campaigned for Kiponda.

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There were also claims that the DP himself gave Omar financial support.

Meanwhile, as the campaigns raged, all Kilifi MPs, including those who have been Ruto’s allies, and Governor Amason Kingi declared support for Katana. They were joined by Lands CAS Gideon Mung’aro and virtually all key Jubilee leaders in Mombasa and Kilifi.

Drifted away

In recent months, Ruto’s allies across the Coast region have seemingly trooped back to ODM and drifted away from the DP. In the only Jubilee strategy meeting the DP attended to support Kiponda in Malindi last month, all the DP’s allies, including Jumwa, were absent.

Conscious of how critical this by-election was to its reputation, ODM poured out its heart and resources in this fight. All key ODM leaders from the region and the national secretariat like party Secretary General Edwin Sifuna were regular visitors in Ganda throughout the campaigns.

For instance, on the last weekend of campaigns, the ODM fraternity in Malindi was joined by a team from the party headquarters, led by Sifuna and a host of Nairobi MCAs, and they were welcome by Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Zaburi. 

Another team from Mombasa, led by Deputy Governor William Kingi and MCAs, also set camp in Malindi to ensure the seat is retained by the Orange party. Jubilee officials from Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties also campaigned for the ODM candidate, despite the party having fielded a candidate.

“We are behind Reuben as a result of the handshake and we want to maintain that tempo because we know President Uhuru and Raila have something good to offer us,” said former Jubilee aspirant Phillip Charo during the campaigns.

Analysts say the by-election was a test for Jumwa’s survival in politics and now that her candidate lost she has lost the political ground not only in Malindi Constituency but also the Coast region.

“This is a real test and bearing in mind that all notable politicians are supporting ODM, it will be hard for her candidate to sail through and that will be the beginning of her downfall in Kilifi politics,” said Willy Mtengo, a local politician, before the election.

On Friday morning, celebrations rent the air at Takaye Primary School as Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Returning Officer Jumaa Musa announced Katana the winner with 4,177 votes.

Omar was second with 2,331 votes while Kiponda came a distant third with 599 and KADU Asili candidate David Mitsanze got 362 votes.

Katana thanked ODM supporters for standing with him and urged his competitors to join him in delivering for the people of Ganda.

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Ganda Ward by-electionODMReuben Katana