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By-elections give Mudavadi and Wetang’ula boost

POLITICS
By John Shilitsa | March 6th 2021

Kabuchai MP-elect Majimbo Kalasinga (c). [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Buoyed by victories in Matungu and Kabuchai parliamentary by-elections, “Sacred Alliance” leaders Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula, Gideon Moi and Kalonzo Musyoka have shifted their focus to 2022 succession battle.

They believe the victories, coupled with the locking out of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) from Parliament, have boosted their alliance’s grand march to State House.

Part of the strategy involves uniting Western under one vote bloc and the results of the by-election was going to play an important role in facilitating this process. 

Powerful message

“I am happy with the outcome of the polls. The people of Matungu and Kabuchai have made us proud and sent a powerful message for all to hear. The big victories can only mean that the grand march is now on,” said Mudavadi when he joined Matungu MP-elect Peter Oscar Nabulindo in celebration at Bulimbo Primary School moments after IEBC declared the ANC candidate, the winner.

He predicted more victories ahead, saying the region’s unity has been mirrored in the two by-elections earlier billed a contest pitting disgruntled National Super Alliance (Nasa) leaders – Mudavadi, Wetang’ula and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka – on one side against ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto.

“Just imagine if the entire region was united, completely united, a lot could be achieved,” argued the Amani leader while addressing hundreds of ANC supporters.

Mudavadi extended an olive branch to other leaders from the region to join him and Wetang’ula.

He told the locals to be wary of individuals investing in disunity of the region. 

“The voice of the people of Matungu and Kabuchai must remind such people that Western has decided to move in a particular direction,” argued Mudavadi.

Political pundits had earlier argued that Mudavadi’s political lifeline was dependent on the outcome of the two by-elections and that a loss would have complicated his political career and ambitions.

According to Martin Andati, a political commentator, a victory was a must for both Mudavadi and Wetang’ula.

“The stakes were high in Matungu where Mudavadi’s political nemesis had their focus. He would have been rendered politically irrelevant in case the seat evaded him but as things are, the former vice-president has proved a point and can walk shoulders high after securing the seat.

“Mudavadi has demonstrated his resolve and determination to galvanise the region. It was a big win for him,” says Andati.

He argues that ODM and UDA dismal performance must have left Raila and Ruto with egg on their faces.

The two by-elections were one of the most closely watched races in the country and the Matungu one went down to the wire.

Ruto was out to test the waters in the vote-rich region as he prepares to take a stab at the presidency and the outcome was disappointing.

Political prowess

Another casualty was Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who was seeking to prove his political prowess in a bid to lock out Mudavadi from Kakamega. The county chief had urged locals to reject Nabulindo on grounds that a vote for him amounted to endorsing Mudavadi.

Matungu and Kabuchai seats fell vacant following the deaths of MPs Justus Murunga Makokha and James Mkwe Lusweti respectively.

Nabulindo, who had earlier been tipped to win, bagged the seat after garnering 14,257 votes to floor 14 other competitors.

ODM’s David Were, a former MP, emerged second with 10,565 votes. Mr Were earlier served as Matungu MP for 15 consecutive years.

UDA candidate Alex Lanya got 5,513 votes.

There was voter apathy, with 33,318 voters turning out to cast their ballots of the 62,386 registered voters.

Christabel Jane Murunga, the widow of the late MP, got 427 votes, ahead of her step-son Eugene Ambwere by 94 votes.

In his acceptance speech, Nabulindo urged the people of Matungu to put the polls behind and work together.

He also pledged to complete all development projects initiated by the former MP for the benefit of locals.

“We should overcome the temptation to look at ourselves based on our clans or tribes. I promise to serve everybody equally and we must rise up and give our contribution towards the development of our constituency,” he said.

He also thanked ANC and his party boss Mudavadi for bankrolling his campaigns.

In Kabuchai, Bungoma County, Joseph Majimbo Kalasinga bagged 19,274 votes, edging out seven contenders. The votes translated to 65 per cent of the total ballots cast.

UDA’s Evans Kakai came a distant second after garnering 6,455 votes, representing 22 per cent.

Wetang’ula seized the opportunity to warn Ford Kenya rebels, saying they must shape up or ship out.

According to Wetang’ula, those out to rock the Lion’s party boat from within will not be tolerated.

“They must purpose to join us so that we can strengthen our party which is our heritage as demonstrated by the people of Kabuchai,” argued Wetang’ula.

The win has cemented Wetang’ula’s role as the county’s political supremo having sought the support of MCAs in campaigning for Majimbo.

After botched coup in the party, lawmakers behind it namely Eseli Simiyu (Tongareni) and Kanduyi’s Wafula Wamunyinyi and Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati opted not to support the Ford Kenya candidate.

Four legislators from the county allied to DP Ruto literally camped in Kabuchai drumming up support for the UDA man, Kakai.

With strong victories in Matungu and Kabuchai, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula are now convinced they have been able to ring-fence the region.

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