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Ken Chonga's uphill task to break jinx of one-term MP

For the last 35 years, no MP has ever been re-elected in Kilifi South, formerly Bahari Constituency. Analyst says this trend has adversely affected development in the constituency.

Patrick Beja

No MP has been re-elected in Kilifi South, formerly Bahari Constituency, since 1987 when it was established. All eight MPs since then have served for one term each.

This begs the question of whether the incumbent, Ken Chonga, who was recently appointed ODM deputy national organising secretary, will on August 9 break the 35-year-old jinx.

Chonga exudes confidence he will recapture the seat, saying he has funded the education of many students through his bursary programme.

He faces former High Commissioner to Zambia Sophie Kombe of Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) and Hassan Joba (United Democratic Alliance).

Rev Joshua Mwavita of the Methodist Church says this habit of firing MPs every five years has adversely affected development in the constituency as leaders are never given time to actualise their plans.

Dr Mtana Lewa, who served as the first Bahari MP between 1988 and 1992, said he was kicked out because voters were impatient as they expected development to happen overnight.

“I was not given a chance to prove my worth. Voters should have allowed me to implement my mid-term and long-term development plans. They were impatient and removed me only after five years. There is a need for civic education to reverse this habit,” Dr Lewa said.

The second MP was John Mumba, who served between 1993 and 1997. He wondered why the trend of changing MPs continued unabated even after the constituency was reduced significantly in 2012 to create the Kilifi North constituency, and there is the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) to help MPs speed up development.

“When I stepped into Parliament in 1993, I earned a salary of Sh15,000 and left with Sh75,000 per month. The constituency was vast and without NG-CDF kitty and I had to conduct a Harambee every month. I do not understand why MPs are still being removed after five years yet they have resources and big perks,” said Mr Mumba.

Other MPs who suffered the same fate are former assistant minister, the late Jembe Mwakalu, journalist Joe Khamis, accountant Ben Gunda and the late journalist Idd Mustafa.

Apart from Kilifi South, Kilifi County has Kilifi North, Kaloleni, Rabai, Ganze, Malindi and Magarini constituencies.

Formidable competition

Voters from neighbouring Kaloleni and Ganze seem to have taken the cue from Kilifi South as they have not returned MPs after the exit of former Finance Assistant Minister Mathias Keah and former long-serving Cabinet Minister Noah Katana Ngala, respectively, in 2002.

Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire, who is the ODM Kilifi County chairman, exuded confidence he would successfully wade through formidable competition from engineer Kenneth Kazungu ‘Tungule’ of PAA, James Charo Samaki of UDA, Anderson Kenga and Emmanuel Kenga.

“I am ready for the two main competitors. I have not started my campaigns yet but I have built schools, roads and even water projects.

“I have balanced my projects in all wards and my record speaks for itself,” said Mr Mwambire, who got a director ticket from ODM.

Mr Tungule, former Kilifi County chief officer for Transport and Infrastructure and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi’s ally, said he has decided to join politics to save Ganze from high levels of poverty and unemployment as well as low education standards.

In Kaloleni, MP Paul Katana banks on the improvement of the 96 primary and 42 secondary schools and his bursary kitty to retain the seat.

“I am ready for my competitors because I have done what I am mandated by the Constitution to do. I have upgraded school buildings, some to storey status; equipped them with desks and distributed the bursary kitty fairly and transparently. I believe no MP in Kaloleni matches my development record,” Mr Katana said.

He will face businessman Jeff Ria of UDA and Winnie Chivila at the ballot.

In Rabai, MP William Kamoti of ODM faces journalist Philip Mbaji, former MCA Kenga Mupe of PAA and Mwawesa MCA Caroline Kalume of Jubilee Party, among others.

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