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ANC picks candidate for Matungu minipoll as big parties make assessments

POLITICS
By Brian Kisanji | December 20th 2020

Peter Nabulindo is to get ANC party ticket to run for the March 4, 2021, Matungu by-election. [Photo: Courtesy]

Amani National Congress (ANC) party is set to hand Peter Nabulindo the ticket to run for the March 4, 2021, Matungu by-election.

Mr Nabulindo who flew the Ford-Kenya flag in pursuit of the seat in 2017 General Election has crossed ANC boat to make a second stab.

The party has taken ta step to retain the seat that fell vacant on November 14 after the death of the area Member of Parliament Justus Murunga.

The party hierarchy led by six MPs and national chairman Kevin Lunani held a two-hour meeting with the aspirant on Saturday night at his home at Ejinja, and later announced they will be giving him a direct nomination ticket.

The night meeting was attended by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, MPs Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale), Titus Khamala (Lurambi), Alfred Agoi (Sabatia), Ayub Savula (Lugari) and Edward Kaunya (Teso North).

The ANC members said their move was necessitated by the need to beat Monday deadline issued by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for political parties to submit names of candidates participating in their primaries.

The leaders said they had the blessings of the ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi to endorse Nabulindo and issue him with the nomination certificate on Monday.

The legislators expressed optimism that Nabulindo is best placed to win the seat adding that he was the most popular in the constituency, hence, no need of primaries.

“We have done our survey and we have our party leader blessings to endorse the popular Nabulindo as our preferred candidate,” said Malala.

The senator said their intention was to retain the seat and having Nabulindo who came second to Murunga in the 2017 parliamentary election was an indication they will win the by-election.

Has run before

In 2017 parliamentary polls Nabulindo came second with 10,636 votes to Murunga’s 18,088.

Distance third was the then incumbent David Were with 8,618 votes.

Savula said they will be banking on Nabulindo’s popularity to retain the seat and the ANC party will fully finance his campaign.

Nabulindo said the endorsement by ANC was a clear indication that he was the most preferred candidate and he will strive to help the party retain the seat.

“I am happy that the party has trusted me with the ticket and I am a symbol of Luhya unity as I will be getting support from the entire team,” said Nabulindo.

Nabulindo in 2017 polls vied on Ford- Kenya ticket, and since then he jumped ship to Mudavadi’s outfit.

However, the Saturday night move did not augur well with other aspirants seeking the party ticket.

The ANC party had already seen nine candidates show interest in clinching the party’s ticket.

The aspirants called on the party to rescind the decision as they accused the party of letting non-members to have a free run in the party.

Discontent

List of individuals who had shown interest included Asomba Nesembe, late MP’s wife Christabel Amunga and son Eugene Ambwere, the current Constituency Development Fund (CDF) chairperson Athman Wangara, Auma Faida, Anzelimo Kongoti and Charles Kasamani.

Speaking hours after the night endorsement, Nesembe—who came in second in the ANC party’s nomination in 2017 and was seeking to clinch the ticket this time around—said it was unfair to lock other candidates.

He warned that the ANC members will not allow non-members to seek for the party ticket yet bonafide members are there in the race.

“We worked with Murunga to ensure we won the seat and as a bonafide member of the ANC party, I ought to have been given an opportunity,” said Nasembe.

Kasamani—a life member of ANC—said the party's national leadership should have given preference to the loyalists as opposed to looking for new politicians.

"I personally feel I am a front runner in this election and the ANC party should come on the ground and give a deserving member the ticket as opposed to newbies who want to dislodge us life members," said Kasamani.

Nabulindo endorsement comes even as confusion mars the late MP's family after three close relatives showed interest in vying for the seat.

The family members failed to reach a compromised agreement on who to support despite holding three meetings.  The late MP’s wife Christabel, son Eugene and the current CDF chairperson Wangara are all eyeing the seat.

The extended family of the late MP on Friday unceremoniously endorsed the widow to run for the seat.

Christabel was said to be eying the ANC ticket, and according to persons close to her, she is poised to go all through as an independent candidate should she miss out on a ticket.

“The only person who can finish up the legacy started by the late MP is the wife. We hope the ANC primaries will be fair and if not Christabel will be going all the way as an independent candidate,” said George Nyongesa, former personal assistant to the late MP.

The late MP’s son and CDF chairman are said to be reluctant on letting the opportunity of vying to pass them.

The ANC announcement is set also to be a wakeup call to other parties ahead of the strict timelines set by the IEBC.

The late Justus Murunga who served as Matungu MP. [File, Standard]

Scramble for candidates

Jubilee party is said to have been angling to scoop Nabulindo but they were beaten up in the race by ANC.

Jubilee members have been on the grassroots trying also together to find a suitable candidate.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali said they will be backing an aspirant who reflects the ideology of the party and that who wins favours from the party hierarchy.

"We know Murunga was a friend of Deputy President William Ruto and it would be good if we had his successor be a person who is allied to the TangaTanga team," said Washiali.

The ODM party is also racing with time to pick a suitable candidate for the race.

Paul Achayo who was an ODM candidate in 2017 has insisted he will still vie on the party's ticket. But there are indications ODM will drop Achayo following claims for other candidates like the EX-MP Were.

Paul Posho, Jeremiah Namunyu's employer at the Kakamega County government has also shown interest in clinching the ODM party ticket.

Most of the candidates are also weighing up ditching party nominations and deciding to run on independent tickets.

The Ford Kenya National Youth leader Benard Wakoli is said to be eying the seat but since his party leader Moses Wetang’ula pulled the party out of the race he might go on as an independent party.

Factions at the Ford-Kenya are split over the decision by Wetang’ula.

IEBC intends to carry out the mini poll to replace Murunga on March 4, 2021.

After the gazettement of the timelines by the IEBC on December 16, politicians have been travelling to Nairobi to clear with their parties before the Monday deadline.

After nomination the parties have until January 4, 2021, to resolve disputes arising from the exercise.

On the same date, political parties that would have issued direct nominations will also be submitting their candidate’s names to IEBC.

Candidates will be presented with nomination papers between January 11 and 12.

After the presentation of nomination papers, the official campaign period kicks off from January 11 to March 1.

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