It’s tight race for Kibwezi East seat as MP fights off challenge

Philip Kaloki. (Photo: Jenipher Wachie, Standard)

The entry of Kenya Medical Training College board chair Philip Kaloki in the race for Kibwezi East parliamentary seat currently held by Jessica Mbalu has set a stage for a bruising political battle.

The seat appears to have narrowed down to a three-horse race as Mr Nicholas Mwilu, a former director of finance, administration and human resources at the Kenya Vision 2030 secretariat, has also declared interest in the seat.

Ms Mbalu, a first time MP, is set to defend her seat on Wiper Party ticket.

Mwilu has settled on Muungano Party while Prof Kaloki is yet to declare his political vehicle for the August 8 General Election.

While Mbalu enjoys the advantage of incumbency in the race, both Mwilu and Kaloki boast of rich academic backgrounds and professional experience spanning several years in both private and public sector.

Kaloki, a Mathematics professor, initiated establishment of 52 new secondary schools during his tenure as Kibwezi MP.

And as the sitting board chairman of the Kenya Medical Training College, Kaloki has used his influence in the setting up KMTC’s branch in Makindu, which President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto commissioned few months ago.

Mwilu, a certified public accountant, is a graduate of Economics from the University of Nairobi and also holds an MBA from the United States International University.

He has worked for both National Bank and Industrial Development Bank as head of internal audit and later as the finance chief at the Multimedia University before he moved to Kenya’s Vision 2030 secretariat.

However, a raft of social, political and economic issues in the tiny constituency will largely define the campaigns, and ultimately the candidate who will carry the day on August 8.

High levels of youth unemployment, poverty as well as food and water scarcity have been cited as one of the greatest challenges facing residents of Kibwezi East.

The constituency’s proximity to the Nairobi-Mombasa highway and now the standard gauge railway is both an opportunity and liability. Whereas the infrastructural facilities would enhance trade and therefore create informal jobs, they could expose the local to social evils.

At Machinery shopping centre where The Standard interviewed several residents yesterday, accountability, and not party affiliation of those contesting Kibwezi East parliamentary seat in the forthcoming general election, will be the yardstick in picking the next MP for the area.

“In Kibwezi East, the deal is as good as done. Voters have already decided and we are only waiting for election day to do what we know best,” said a resident who identified himself only as Mutiso.

Another resident Mary said “poverty, lack of food and water are our greatest problems here, and we are determined to elect a leader who shows interest and has proven track record or capacity to address the problems.”

But the Muungano Party aspirant says he is determined to bring the much desired change the people of Kibwezi East have been yearning for.

“I am best placed to deal with these challenges because I have been in touch with the people, young and the elderly,” said Mwilu.

According to Mwilu, the constituency has lagged behind in development due to poor leadership and misallocation of resources, especially the NG-CDF.

“My priority will be to establish systems that create an all-inclusive leadership that values public participation and transparency in the management of public affairs and resources,” he said.

No push over

Mbalu, a staunch supporter of Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, will not be a push over either, according to another source in Kambu, the constituency’s headquarters.

“Ms Mbalu has initiated visible projects and she is not done with them yet. Soon Kalonzo will come back here and declare ‘Mbalu tosha’ and she will bounce back,” said Jackson Musembi.

Competition between Mbalu and Mwilu in particular, is expected to be intriguing given the former enjoys Kalonzo’s backing while the latter subscribes to Governor Kivutha Kibwana’s party.

But analysts believe Kaloki, who made a name as a selfless leader when he served as Kibwezi MP and who was recently endorsed by Deputy President William Ruto, may turn out to be the most formidable candidate in the battle for Kibwezi East seat.

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