SECTIONS

Test for Kenya Kwanza in Bungoma by-election

 Moses Mabonga, Wafula Wamunyinyi and Wafula Wakoli. [File, Standard]

As the date for the Thursday election beckons, both Mabonga (UDA) and Wakoli (Ford Kenya) are on the ballot paper.

Race which is shaping up to be a three-horse contest between Wamunyinyi of Azimio, Wakoli and Mabonga, has eight other candidates. 

Robert Amalemba and Juliet Omelo, Bungoma

In the wake of the vacancy for the Bungoma senator seat, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula hinted that Kenya Kwanza would front a sole candidate to square it out with the sole Azimio candidate. This, however, did not happen.

Wetang’ula said he would “sit down with President William Ruto” to determine who between Moses Mabonga and Wafula Wakoli would fly the coalition’s ticket.

He spoke at the homecoming rally of Bungoma Deputy Governor Jennifer Mbatiany in Mt Elgon constituency.

As the date for the Thursday election beckons, both Mabonga (UDA) and Wakoli (Ford Kenya) are on the ballot paper.

Wetang’ula had promised to initiate the ceasefire process between the two Kenya Kwanza candidates. One was to drop their bid and support the other.

However, he has turned to belittle the odds of Mabonga, the immediate former Bumula MP, becoming senator as he elevates his preferred bet Wakoli.

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

“If Mabonga and Wafula Wamunyinyi, the immediate former Kanduyi MP, failed to clinch their constituency seats how can they win the support from the rest of Bungoma constituencies?

“They were voted out because they could not deliver,” he said in one of the rallies as he drummed up support for his party’s candidate.

“Wakoli understands the role of a senator because he has served as my office manager for a long time. He has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities that make him the best candidate.”

The race which is shaping up to be a three-horse contest between Wamunyinyi of Azimio, Wakoli and Mabonga, has eight other candidates from different parties. 

The eight are Elias Barasa who is vying for the People’s Empowerment Party and Enock Opara, Julius Masinde and Radon Munoko who are independent.

Others are Fredrick Busolo of Vibrant Democracy Party, Aaron Wafula (Republican Liberty Party), Geoffrey Barasa (National Ordinary People Empowerment Union) and Robert Sifuna (Roots Party of Kenya).

Wakoli got a boost Saturday when Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi traversed parts of Bungoma campaigning for him alongside Wetang’ula.

Mudavadi told Bungoma residents that Wakoli was a competent and promising young man.

“He has experience having served as a teacher and a personal assistant to the former senator, he is our best bet,” he said.

Mudavadi added that as Kenya Kwanza, they are set to provide a conducive space to nurture vibrant young leaders to take up leadership roles in Bungoma. 

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi. [File, Standard]

DAP-K Secretary General Eseli Simiyu said the Kenya Kwanza team is split beyond repair and that would work to Azimio’s advantage in the Thursday poll.

He said Kenya Kwanza started a propaganda campaign on social media about Wamunyinyi not being gazetted by the IEBC to contest, an indicator that “they are panicking”. 

The former Wetang’ula close ally said the Azimio candidate, a former three-term MP, is listed as a contestant in the poll. 

“The propaganda is being pushed by their influencers on social media who notice how compromised their chances are in the contest.

“Seeing that they have no chance of beating our sole Azimio candidate they have resorted to spreading misinformation to confuse our supporters,” Simiyu said.

He added that Wamunyinyi is seasoned politician and has the nerve to check the excesses of Governor Ken Lusaka of Kenya Kwanza, “compared to Wakoli whose campaign is being fronted by among others, Lusaka.” 

Professor Gitile Naituli, a lecturer at Multimedia University, said Wetang’ula’s influence would determine who becomes senator as he still enjoys support on the ground.

He said Wakoli’s experience or lack of it will count less even as his opponents label him a Wetang’ula stooge.

“He is the representation and arguably the face of Kenya Kwanza in Bungoma. His man has the better chance in the eyes of your average Kenya Kwanza supporter in the county. “Add that to the cult-like support his Ford Kenya party has then his candidate is halfway into the senate,” Naituli said.

He added that the continued attacks of UDA lawmakers on Wetang’ula would work for the good of Azimio. The UDA legislators say Wetang’ula is selfish for refusing to support their candidate after having bagged the Speaker position courtesy of UDA. 

Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama (UDA) has also criticised Wetang’ula for not supporting Mabonga.