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Day of judgement for Homa Bay beckons

POLITICS
By Kiundu Waweru | February 7th 2015

The Seventh Day Adventists, unlike many other denominations do not believe that the dead go to heaven or hell. Rather, they remain unconscious until the return of Christ for judgment. Otieno Kajwang’ subscribed to this faith, and as he awaits the advent, or the coming of Christ, eight men are embroiled in a 'mapambano', a battle of their life. But for them, the judgment is five days away.

On Thursday February 12, a good percentage of 326,505 registered voters is expected to hit the ballot to decide who will succeed the charismatic Kajwang’. As the big days nears, the homestretch campaign mood is reaching fever pitch.

Last Thursday, as Raila joined the handpicked ODM flag bearer Moses Kajwang’, the younger brother of the 'mapambano' politician, whose death on November 18, was shrouded by a cloud of mystery, it was mixed reaction from the locals.

“Wadwaro Moses Kajwang’(We want Moses Kajwang)” some youth chanted.

A middle-aged businessman pleaded: “We want Phillip Okundi. Huyo kijana (Moses) atapotelea Nairobi.” Okundi and Kajwang’ have added colour to the campaigns.

The youthful Kajwang’, a political greenhorn insists he has leadership mojo, to take over the mantle.

At 35, Kajwang’, an Information Technology specialist, is full of youthful exuberance, is confident, polished and eloquent. On the other hand, Okundi, who following the handpicking of Kajwang’ left in a huff to join the little known Maendeleo Democratic Party, believes he is the man for the job.

Okundi, a career engineer is sharp, suave and boasts of political experience and wisdom. He has his facts at the fingertips, and, attracts sober audiences. But this is not an entirely two-horse race.

Fred Rabong’o of the National Agenda Party is said to be armed with money bags, which is oiling his campaign machine, while Hillary Alila, the Kenya Professional Boxing Commission Chairman has taken the campaign a notch higher by going door to door.

Given the many factors at play and the dynamics at hand, it is crystal clear that, this is a tough race for the ODM candidate and his fellow contestants.
James Mbori, a former three-term Kasipul Kabondo MP, first elected in 1969, then 1983 and holding the seat until 1992, speaking to The Standard on Saturday at his home in Saye, says the young Kajwang’ lacks preparation and experience.

“Otieno Kajwang’ was experienced as an MP; and was exposed to world affairs. Homa Bay needs a man of his stature. Not even his brother will fit into his shoes.”

“Okundi might claim age and experience as an MP, but senate is a different ball game...” the octogenarian says.

Mbori’s reckons that most of the candidates do not reside in Homa Bay, therefore they lack the political spine and understanding needed to transform a county rigged with enormous challenges.

One of the big problems is poor infrastructure that has affected the development progress of the region. The Oyugi-Kendu Bay Road is untarmacked, dusty with giant holes.
Water is another big issue despite the county having a massive water mass — Lake Victoria.

When it comes to agriculture in Homa Bay, it is virtually non-existent, despite the potential for sugar, pineapples, cotton and even water melon.
The only cotton ginnery in Homa Bay closed down, and the only sugar processing company is privately owned. Okundi says a World Bank analysis in early 2000 showed that Homa Bay could rival Trans Nzoia in sugarcane production.

Education is also in dire need of help. Homa Bay boasts of no university, nor a technical training institute only hosting constituent colleges. It cannot compete with its neighbours, Siaya and Kisumu and Kisii.
Unfortunately, on the campaign trail, these issues are never raised as politics takes centre stage. Meanwhile, campaigns continue to hot up.

Last Wednesday, Homa Bay town was treated to a spectacle as a low flying chopper sliced the air in circles before landing at the Tourist Hotel.  Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo and Siaya senator James Orengo disembarked from the chopper as a crowd started to mill around them.

 Midiwo, armed with a bundle of crisp Sh100 notes, tried to organise the youth into an orderly queue so that he could dish out the goodies. It proved to be a futile mission as the youth became rowdy and unruly forcing the politician to return to the chopper.

A local youth Kenneth Ouya, 24, says of the fiasco, “These guys are out of touch with reality. They could not even address us.”

Veteran politician Mbori, feels the same way, but blames his friend Raila for the happenings.

“He should not have imposed Moses on the people. He should have let them exercise their sovereign rights, as envisioned by Article One of the Constitution.”

To further compound problems, on the campaign trail, Kajwang’ and Okundi are engaged in bitter exchanges.

On Friday last week, Kajwang’ claimed that he had been attacked by Okundi’s goons but the latter’s camp retorts that Kajwang’ stage-managed the attack. His elder brother TJ Kajwang’ sought Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) help petitioning Okundi to answer to violations of the electoral code of conduct. Eng James Rege and George Oner were the respondents. The warring factions were summoned to the IEBC offices in Homa Bay on Thursday, but Kajwang’ failed to appear, forcing the commission to dismiss the petition.

“This is meant to derail me,” moans Okundi.

 Rege, seemingly infuriated says: “I am very bitter with the Kajwang’s supporters. The other day, while campaigning in my backyard, they abused me in the presence of my mother. I am bitter.” Rege dismisses ODM’s allegations that he was being supported by Jubilee.

“That is utter nonsense,” he says.

Meanwhile, as accusations continue to be traded, the candidates are putting their A-game in their last minute rush to woo every voter.

Mapambano rages on!

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