Poor plan, party politics that cost ODM Taita Taveta governor seat

Andrew Mwadime ran as an Independent candidate and won. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]

An error in selecting the right candidate to fly the ODM flag in the Taita Taveta governor race cost it the seat.

It has now been revealed that advice given by a group of Coast leaders on who should be given the direct ticket for the race was completely ignored, and a "weak" candidate was given the ticket.

Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung'aro and Senator Steward Madzayo chastised the ODM leadership on September 12 for denying Andrew Mwadime a direct party ticket in the recently concluded August 9 general election. Mwadime ran as an Independent candidate and won.

While blaming the loss on the party's contentious primaries, Mung'aro and Madzayo said they had previously conducted a popularity survey that revealed Mwadime was far ahead of others in the governor race.

Mung'aro, speaking in Voi town, said he told ODM leader Raila Odinga to give Mwadime the direct ticket, but in vain. "I said the mood on the ground favoured Mwadime and that he was going to win the seat. My prediction came true, as he won the seat by a landslide," the governor said.

ODM gave Thomas Mwakwida a direct ticket, which earned him 2,139 votes in the August polls. Mwadime won with 49,901 votes. Former Governor Granton Samboja, who flew the Jubilee flag, finished second with 23,718 votes. "We knew Mwadime would win because he has the vision to transform the lives of the people in his community," Madzayo said.

Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung'aro (centre). [File, Standard]

Mung'aro and Madzayo's concerns are set against the backdrop of the Orange party's dwindling popularity. The party won two parliamentary seats in the county in 2013, Mwatate and Voi, while Wiper and Jubilee won Wundanyi and Taveta, respectively. The party won 12 seats in the county assembly out of 20 electoral wards.

The party won two parliamentary seats in 2017, but the number of MCAs was reduced to eight. In 2022, the party won no parliamentary seats after Wiper, led by Kalonzo Musyoka, successfully wrestled Raila from his stronghold.

Wiper won three parliamentary seats in Voi, Wundanyi, and Taveta constituencies, while Jubilee won the Mwatate seat. Only the Senatorial seat and five county assembly seats were won by ODM. Mwadime, who was with Madzayo and Mung'aro, told the locals to stop complaining about his recent appointments.

"There are rumors circulating that the four appointments I made recently were not deserving. I am still learning, and please give me time and support as I strive to fulfill my campaign promises," the governor said.

Mwadime said those who criticise his administration should also compliment him when he meets expectations.

He promised to launch "Bunge La Wanainchi" in the four constituencies, where matters affecting locals would be discussed.