The race for the four parliamentary seats in Kwale County is taking shape with a brother and sister eyeing the same seat at the ballot if they get nomination tickets in their political formations.
Media personality Mwanaisha Chidzuga and her elder brother Hassan Chidzuga are set for a face-off in the Matuga constituency parliamentary race currently held by Engineer Kassim Tandaza of the Amani National Congress (ANC).
It will be a rematch in Kinango, Matuga and Lunga Lunga as main rivals are expected in the race while in Msambweni Mr Feisal Bader, who won in a by-election backed by Deputy President William Ruto, will face the battle of his life less than two years after going to Parliament.
At least four women have lined up for the race although they have to win at the primaries before they can be on the ballot on August 9.
Kwale Woman Representative Zuleikha Hassan, former Msambweni MP Marere wa Mwachai, Sharlet Akinyi and Mwanaisha have thrown their hats in the ring.
In separate interviews, Mwanaisha and her brother said they believed in selling their agenda to the electorate for them to choose.
Mwanaisha said she was not going to chicken out vowing to face off with Matuga United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairman Mr Mwalimu Digore and former Kwale County executive member (CEC) for Sports Ramadhan Bungale for the UDA ticket. “Let us sell our agenda to the voters. I am not going to chicken out of this race because I believe I will deliver the seat. Let wananchi decide. Everybody is welcome. But it is not going to be a walk in the park,” she said.
She pledged to ensure the completion of projects funded by the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), improve schools, build infrastructure and fund water projects if elected.
Hassan declared he was not ready to leave the seat to anyone, saying as a businessman, he has always been on the ground with the people. “Everyone has a right to contest this seat. I have always been on the ground and I cannot leave it to anyone,” Hassan said.
The two siblings entered the race after the death of their mother Zainab Kalekye Chidzuga, a prominent politician, last year.
The matriarch was until 2017 the Kwale County Women Representative. In 2007, the late Zainab contested for the Matuga parliamentary seat against her brother-in-law and current Wiper Democratic Movement national chairman Chirau Ali Mwakwere but lost to him.
Hassan, 35, has to fight for the Azimio ticket with Kwale County ODM chairman and former Matuga MP Hassan Mwanyoha. His focus is on youth and women empowerment, building and equipping schools and working closely with the governor and national government to harmonise the implementation of development projects.
Hassan Mwanyoha, who Tandaza beat in the 2017 polls, promised a tough battle saying he wants to go back to parliament to save the education sector from being ‘run down’ and ensure no child missed school because of lack of fees. “I want to ensure projects are not run down. I want to take every child to school whether their parents have school fees or not. I want to develop the infrastructure,” Mwanyoha said.
Digore said he was prepared for the primaries in UDA, adding that he wanted to provide focused leadership, streamline agriculture, cooperatives and education. Also in the race for Matuga is Suleiman Koti.
Matuga which was formerly Kwale Central was controlled by the former Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary-general the late Juma Boy and son Boy Juma Boy for more than two decades as MPs.
In Kinango Constituency, MP Benjamin Tayari, who left ODM for UDA is expected to face his arch-rival and former long-serving MP Gonzi Rai.
Mr Rai, who served between 1992 and 1997 and again in 2002 to 2017, said he was in the race following pressure from the electorate after education projects and plans to revive agriculture stalled.
“I had earlier planned to retire from politics by 2022. But I have decided to run in this election because projects in the education sector have been abandoned, distribution of bursary is not done fairly even by the county government and hungry families have gone without relief food,” Rai explained.
He added: “I want to return to leadership to push the construction of dams that will enable us to put at least 2000 acres each in Kinango and Samburu sub-counties under irrigation to improve food security. It is unfortunate many families have gone without relief food and no one seems to care,” Rai said.
High school principal Beja Mwambeyu who quit his job this month said he will focus on uplifting the standards of education particularly building of primary schools and push for employment of teachers.
Mr Mwambeyu who is yet to identify a party also said he will promote small and medium enterprises and develop infrastructure in an effort to address poverty.
Ms Zuleikha vowed to oust Mr Tayari promising to tackle the acute water problem, food insecurity, land issues and push for free secondary education.
“Government must step in because the economy has been very bad and parents cannot make money,” said the youthful politician who first went to parliament in 2013 through a nomination. But Tayari said he was ready for his opponents noting that he has managed to construct 245 new classrooms, lobbied for the Sh1.2 billion Makamini dam under construction and pushed for the completion of the 53km Samburu-Kinango tarmac road.
“I have achieved a lot with the NG-CDF in five years. In the 2019-2020 financial year I was declared the best MP in managing NG-CDF in the Coast region. Recently, I successfully lobbied for the tarmacking of Kinango-Kwale road, which has started,” said the Ruto ally.
Also seeking the Kinango seat are lawyer Mwatela Kamanza, former district officer Boniface Mwatela and Salim Mrina, former political advisor to Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya.
In Msambweni Constituency Ms Akinyi, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Executive Secretary Bashir Kilalo, Shee Mahmoud and Ali Mwakulonda are angling for the Azimio ticket in their bid to dislodge Mr Bader of UDA.
Mr Bader’s main challenger in the December 15, 2021 by-election Omar Boga has reportedly given the race a break after his elder brother and former Agriculture principal secretary Prof Hamad Boga entered into the Kwale governorship race under Azimio la Umoja banner.
Ms Marere who has led a crusade on land rights will vie on the National Vision Party where she is secretary-general. “Many families have been displaced after their land was taken away and we must address the problem of squatters urgently,” she said.
Peter Nzuki who was in Ruto’s camp said he will contest Msambweni seat on a Kanu ticket. “I will promote cottage industries, particularly processing of fruits and value addition of other crops,” he said. In Lunga Lunga constituency, MP Khatib Mwashetani of Jubilee who joined UDA is facing a battle of life after his main rival Joseph Muki, who in 2017 made a debut in politics as an independent candidate, intensified his campaigns after joining Wiper.
Muki, who on February 21, hosted Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi at Makambani in Lunga Lunga, vowed to give Mwashetani a run for his money. “I am ready to serve. I will unite communities, empower youth and women and improve the condition of our schools,” Muki, a businessman pledged.
A new entrant in the race Mangale Munga Chiforomodo, who until recently was Kwale’s CEC for Education, has also made in-roads in Lunga Lunga although he is yet to announce his political party.
Mombasa businessman Benson Mutisya, who is running for the third time, said he had perfected the game and was set to oust Mr Mwashetani, a key ally of Ruto. “The ground has shifted and is very receptive. I am confident of winning that seat,” said the Jubilee politician.
Others gunning for the Msambweni seat are prominent surveyor Mkaila Ngome, former Msambweni MP Omar Zonga and Mrabu Chaka.