The Suba South parliamentary seat has become a battlefield for politicians out to succeed National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi. Suba South is one of the eight constituencies in Homa Bay County.
It is in the Western part of the county and borders Lake Victoria to the West, Suba North and Ndhiwa constituencies in Homa Bay County and Nyatike Constituency in Migori County.
As of 2017, according to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) register, the constituency had 46,499 voters.
The number is expected to rise in the new register the commission is preparing for the August 9 elections.
The main economic activities in Suba South are farming and fishing.
The Constituency is predominantly occupied by the Abasuba tribe, almost all speaking Dholuo because they were assimilated by the Luo.
The constituency’s major clans are Gwassi and Kaksingri. Some parts of the constituency, especially in Sindo Township, are cosmopolitan.
The key ask for residents is infrastructure development.
In the last General Election, Mbadi, vying on ODM, got 20,650 votes. He was followed by Ford-Kenya’s Peter Ocholla, who garnered 18,705 votes, and Lucy Mwanzia of Jubilee Party with 179.
Many aspirants have expressed interest in the parliamentary seat, even as parties prepare for primaries in April.
Mbadi has exited the parliamentary race to vie for the Homa Bay gubernatorial post. This has left the seat with no incumbency, levelling the playground.
They include former Raila Odinga’s Chief of Staff in the office of Prime Minister Caroli Omondi, businessman Stephen Sangira, businessman Tom Kituka, former Homa Bay County Government Chief Officer Julius Opala, Community Health Worker Lucy Manyala, Gwassi North MCA Evans Marieba, Sylvester Kasipuku and Maren Agar.
For the first time, Mr Omondi is decamping from ODM, which he says short-changed him in two previous elections.
He, however, said: “I am vying for the seat on a political party under Azimio la Umoja because I am supporting Raila. ODM short-changed me in Homa Bay senatorial by-election and 2017 party primaries.”
Omondi vowed to speed up tarmacking of the Mbita-Sindo-Magunga-Sori road and the greater Lake Victoria ring road from Sindo to Sori via Nyagwethe, Nyandiwa and Mikuyu if elected.
“The road was designed by the coalition government but it has not been completed to date. I will use my networks with the forthcoming administration to complete it,” he said.
He also pledged a school feeding programme and a tree planting one in the constituency’s primary schools.
Omondi also intends to start entrepreneurship programmes for empowering the youth and women to reduce unemployment in the constituency.
“I will deal with food insecurity by supplying clean water to residents and promoting irrigation. I want to ensure our health facilities have ambulances for rescuing patients in critical conditions,” he added.
Mr Sangira believes his sub-clan, Kachuodho, will give him an upper hand in the contest, as it has been producing swing votes in previous elections.
“My sub-clan is the second largest in this constituency but I believe I am going to win the seat by combining their votes with those from other clans,” he said.
He wants to improve infrastructure by ensuring good roads are constructed to promote development. “Suba South has fertile land for agriculture, but there are no major roads for transporting the agricultural produce. I will lobby to ensure all necessary roads are constructed to make transportation of agricultural produce,” he said.
Sangira wants to put water towers in the constituency into use besides empowering youth and women.
He has also vowed to ensure proper power supply to spur economic growth and promote healthcare access, through his networks.
“Agribusiness is going to be one of my priorities. This will reduce unemployment rates. I also want to do away with bribery in which the youth have to part with money to be recruited for government jobs,” Sangira said.
According to Kituka, there is a need to promote education as a foundation of development locally.
“I will bring professionals together to enable us to venture into innovation for empowering our youth and women through job creation,” Kituka said.
He also intends to use his networks in the US to attract foreign aid to residents.
Opala has vowed to promote women and youth economic empowerment if elected. “I want to promote engagement through public participation to promote development in our constituency,” Opala said.
Ms Manyala pledged to unite Suba South residents to promote development projects. She believes in her capability of uniting the constituency because she does not have a clan in the area.
“I am able to unite Suba because a married woman doesn’t have a clan. The unity will enhance development,” she said.
Locals have demanded better roads, besides access to clean water and protection of fishermen from harassment by Uganda and Tanzania. “We need clean water because water is life. We also want corporate social responsibility from Ruma National Park, which is in our constituency,” said Evance Oloo, a resident.
Bony Sidika, also a resident, said they want a leader who can promote development projects locally. “We have lagged behind for so long in terms of development. We want an MP who can empower the people,” Sidika said.