How UDA fever swept aside big names in Mt Kenya

"Yellow fever" is now the term used to describe the Mt Kenya's political realignments in the 2022 elections that has seen UDA sweep elective seats in the region.

Like a house of cards, most of the Azimio-allied politicians stumbled down all over the mountain.

And tongues are wagging about the political gamble that has jolted political careers including that of the longest serving regional political veteran, Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.

By yesterday, Kiraitu had all but lost his seat to Woman Rep Kawira Mwangaza by a big margin.

Although Ms Kawira was vying on an Independent ticket despite her long history with Ruto, it was the entry of Senator Mithika Linturi that sullied the waters eating into an Igembe voter pie that may have given Kiraitu some biting space.

By the time of going to press last evening, Kawira was ahead of her rivals with 181,243 votes. Linturi second at 130,126 and Kiraitu third at 71,487 votes. Kiraitu had lost all four Imenti constituencies to Kawira as well as the two Tigania constituencies and one Igembe constituency.

Linturi led in the other two Igembe constituencies. It will be an ignominious exit for a colourful politician first elected to Parliament in 1992 as part of the Ford's Young Turks whose other peers included the Azimio presidential pair of Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua as well as Paul Muite, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, James Orengo, Michael Wamalwa Kijana and Kisumu governor Anyang Nyong'o.

Notably, Kiraitu has been elected for six consecutive terms on different tickets. Others who took the risky gamble and paid dearly for it by associating with Azimio included National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya, who lost his Kipipiri parliamentary seat to former Nyandarua Woman Rep Wanjiku Muhia.

Kimunya is also a veteran of sorts who was first elected to Parliament in 1997 and has only been out for the 2013-2017 term and one of the Jubilee bigwigs who drove the intellectual discourse.

First term Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu was a tactful propagandist for Jubilee who coined the term 'Kieleweke' to describe the few soldiers who remained on President Uhuru Kenyatta's side in Jubilee.

He was one of the few Uhuru allies who took on rivals on the Ruto side on the Internet and on the ground. He lost to a perennial contestant Duncan Maina Mathenge. His Kieni counterpart Kanini Kega, who lost to Njoroge Wainaina, was also another loyal Jubilee promoter.

He had 25,002 votes almost being doubled by Wainaina's 45,371 votes after a bitter fight and despite what is seen as a stellar development record in the semi arid constituency. Another high profile casualty was Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni, who lost in Ndaragwa five years after making a comeback.

A thoughtful politician, Kioni only realised he was fighting a losing battle against the yellows when the results started streaming in. In Murang'a County, former minister Jamleck Kamau has to settle to the reality of yet another still born electoral dream despite years of investment into the same and five years of patiently waiting for the end of Mwangi wa Iria's term as governor.

Kamau's dream appears to have collapsed with his rival and outgoing Senator Irung'u Kangata leading with 146,030 votes on Wednesday evening against his 52,736 votes.

There are those who played safe and are smiling for it. Mwangi Kiunjuri who founded The Service Party of Kenya (TSP) after falling out with Uhuru but not getting directly under Ruto's ambit reclaimed his Laikipia East parliamentary seat, polling 30,199 against incumbent Amin Mohamed Deddy's 28,070 in the provisional results. His party also appeared likely to capture the Laikipia Woman Rep race.

Rahim Dawood, who run as an Independent in North Imenti, Meru, despite being allied to Uhuru, also won a third term. By the time of going to press yesterday, he had 22,197 against closest challenger Carol Muriuki who had 10,747 and UDA's Halima Mucheke with 8,238.

So did Kirinyaga Woman Rep Purity Ngirichi who was leading a tough race against incumbent Anne Waiguru and Jubilee's Charles Kibiru who conceded by early Wednesday.

Waiguru is leading, according to official results from three of the four constituencies in the area. In Ndia constituency, Ms Ngirichi polled 21,025 votes against Waiguru's 19,670 and Kibiru's 5,598 votes in provisional results.

In Keruguoya Central, Waiguru led with 26,178 votes against Ngirici's 24,861 while in Gichugu after 18 hours of chaos and re-tallying, Waiguru led with a difference of more than 15,000 after polling 36,675 votes to the Woman Rep's 21,285 votes. This left Mwea as the battleground which will determine who will take the governors mansion.

Waiguru thus had 82,523 votes by yesterday against Ngirici's 71,007 votes with Mwea to go.

Michael Wambugu Wainaina who won the Othaya parliamentary seat on a UDA ticket by amassing 26,976 votes to beat Jubilee's incumbent Gichuki Mugambi who had 9,019 votes said the results showed the disillusionment that Mt Kenya had against Uhuru's government.

In Igember North constituency, Julius Taimamu of UDA won 1ith 18,115, followed by Maoka Maore (Jubilee) 16,446, Erauki Joseph (TSP) 11,115. There was four other candidates.

"Our people's business had been ruined by the wrong policies and the farming sector is hardly delivering due to high input costs," said Wainaina.

He said the President had made the situation worse by staying away from the region.

"He was like a man who ran away from his burning house. He should have taken collective action to salvage the situation by staying close to even the harshest critics," said Wainaina.