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Unity test for Mudavadi party as big three eye Kakamega top seat

By Biketi Kikechi | December 6th 2021

 Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Lugari MP Ayub Savula, and former Cabinet Minister Amukowa Anangwe. [File, Standard]

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and the party secretariat are working to forestall a possible fallout among aspirants for the Kakamega governor’s seat.

Among those eyeing the ANC ticket for the seat are Lugari MP Ayub Savula, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and former Cabinet Minister Amukowa Anangwe.

Last week, Malala reportedly dismissed Savula’s position as deputy party leader, through a statement bearing Mudavadi’s name.

The party secretariat dismissed it as fake, saying Mudavadi was not aware of such communication.

“We wish to frankly dissociate from such deceitful and frivolous actions of manipulation whose intentions remain undefined,” the party said.

The truth however is that the party is making efforts to ensure the three candidates agree on a non-contested formula of picking its flag-bearer for the governor race.

Prof Anangwe said he does not think the party will hold nominations for the Kakamega governor seat.

“I speak to you as a party member and an insider but also as a professional and I can tell you ANC’s thinking is that there should be an understanding between the three of us to share the available slots,” he said.

The slots ANC wants shared among the three aspirants are the positions of governor, deputy governor and senatorial seat.

The university don said he was prompted by the party leadership to initiate talks with Malala and Savula. He said the discussion is still at the initial stages but is ongoing.

But sources said the three aspirants have so far disagreed although Anangwe and Mudavadi are convinced that a mutual understanding will be reached soon.

“The infighting you are seeing is because the guy who gets the ANC ticket will most likely be the front runner for the seat,” says political analyst Martin Andati.

He says a candidate running on an ANC ticket will have an added advantage because of the traction the party has gained in the region.

Andati is also privy to information that efforts to rally the aspirants into supporting one have so far failed because each believes he is more qualified than the rest.

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi. [Dennis Kavisu, Standard]

He says it is difficult for the aspirants to agree because Savula says he is the most experienced and has campaign resources while Malala credits himself with delivering the Matungu by-election.

Anangwe is also adamant that he is the most seasoned among them and has enough resources to mount a massive election campaign.

Also in the race for the party ticket is Nairobi-based lawyer Michael Osundwa, who argues that he should be on the ballot because he was the ANC flag bearer in 2017 and therefore has name recognition.

Speaking to The Standard, Savula oozed confidence when asked about his prospects of getting the ANC ticket, saying he expects all candidates will get a fair chance through party nominations.

“I will beat them early in the morning because I have the experience, being a two-term MP and a businessman with adequate resources, and if some are not careful they may miscalculate and miss out on pension, which is only given to two-term MPs,” said Savula.

He dismissed the alleged attack against him by Malala as fake news, saying they are working in harmony and had both attended the launch of the party website, the youth charter and transaction portal on Thursday with Mudavadi.

The MP said he will have an advantage over the rest because he is the only candidate from the populous northern part of Kakamega County that comprises Lurambi, Malava, Lugari and Likuyani constituencies.

But Anangwe assured the ANC members that the understanding is that whoever gets the ticket will be supported by the other two and so it is not as acrimonious as is published in the newspapers.

“I have a different approach from the rest because mine is structured at the grassroots, while theirs is the roadside style,” he said.

The professor appears to be optimistic of getting the ANC ticket because of “my solid experience as a minister, my vision, mission and 12-pillar transformative agenda”.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

But he is also confident that whoever gets the ticket will get the governorship and it does not matter if it is Savula, Malala or him.

Senator Malala is also no pushover and he has so far emerged as perhaps the most aggressive MP from the Western region championing community political interests.

The youthful, outspoken MP has fought many battles from the time he served as a Member of the County Assembly where he was a thorn in the flesh of Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

He is well known in Kakamega town where he marshals crowds among youth and boda boda operators anytime they are needed for political support of the One Kenya Alliance and ANC. But the contest will not just be confined to the ANC candidates because ODM will also have Kenya Electricity Transmission CEO Fernandes Barasa who has been mobilising support across the county since 2017.

He will face off with Deputy Governor Philip Kutima who has served for two terms and will be seeking to succeed his boss.

Then there is former Senator Boni Khalwale who has also been on the ground running with Deputy President William Ruto for a very long time now.

Other aspirants are CEO of Metropol Credit Reference Bureau Sam Omukoko, Mombasa-based lawyer Leonard Shimaka and Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito.

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