Gearing up for 2022: what next for governors, MPs?
The 2022 General Election is just a stone throw away. Those eyeing various seats are positioning themselves in readiness for the murky campaigns while the incumbent are nervous to death.
Of particular interest to political observers are governors, who have concluded their tenure in office having served the constitutionally permitted two term limit but are still in their prime ages. They are unlikely to retreat into political oblivion at a time the country is heading into its fourth republic.
These governors, who hold a lot of sway in regional politics, include include Wycliffe Operanya (Kakamega), Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Prof Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Mwangi wa Iria (Muranga).
Others serving their final terms are Sam Mvurya (Kwale), Fahim Twaha (Lamu), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Ibrahim Roba (Mandera), Martin Wambora (Embu), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Samwel Tunai (Narok), Prof Paul Kiprono (Kericho) and Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia).
There is also Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), Zakaria Obado (Migori) and James Ongwae (Kisii).
Political analysts say while the Constitution bars governors from holding office beyond their second terms, it gives them a blank cheque to vie for any other political seat. This means a second term governor is free to vie not just for the presidency but also seek to be a running mate to a presidential candidate. They can also go for the other seats on offer, including that of senator, MP or Woman Representative.
Of the outgoing governors, three – Oparanya, Joho and Mutua – have declared presidential elections. Whether they intend to walk the talk remains to be judged, seeing as their political clout on the national scale pales in comparison to Raila Odinga and William Ruto, who are presumed to be the matadors to square it out in 2022.
Pundits say they could merely be positioning themselves to take advantage of pickings that will fall off the tree should the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which proposes a raft of new plum seats, come into fruition.
Further, the BBI task force proposal that Cabinet members be drawn from among MPs should cause sitting legislators a lot of worry. For instance, should Oparanya opt to go this route, his political clout and financial muscle would overwhelm first time Butere MP Mwale Tindi. It could be a massacre.
And if he ran for senate, it could be shackles of doom for Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala. The same can be said of Joho, Mandago, Obado, Kibwana, Mutua and several powerful outgoing governors.
Political analyst Dr Wanguhu Gitonga notes that while some influential governors and other politicians are likely to aim higher, most are set to go for less glamorous but lucrative seats such as that of MP, which with control of the Constituency Development Fund intact, remains crucial at the grassroots.
“I agree BBI is important but also consider what CDF had done in areas where it has been used well. Then, we will also soon have the Ward Development Fund,” he added.
Multimedia University of Kenya lecturer Kipkirui arap Telwa also argues that a number of Cabinet Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and governors are too young to quit the public sphere and are likely to aspire to continue serving in different portfolios.
He cites those likely to go for higher portfolios to include Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and former Senate Deputy Speaker Kindiki Kithure.
“They have money and political clout, the much needed resources in every political contest. Some are doing it to protect their political largesse,” he says of governors.
However, Ka Telwa contends that even with changes, sitting MPs are unlikely to be pushovers.
“They have much needed resources and if we adopt BBI, then they will push for delimitation of constituency boundaries to be postponed until after the next general election and ensure it is done through gerrymandering,” he told The Nairobian.
He added that in the short term, Cabinet Secretaries such as Peter Munya, Fred Matiang’i and Mutahi Kagwe appear to be positioning themselves for higher positions in the envisaged new positions. Others include Chief Administrative Secretaries John Musonik (Petroleum), Ababu Namwamba (Foreign Affairs) and Charles Sunkuli (Environment).
Note that even though the High Court on Monday declared the position of CAS unconstitutional, Kap Telwa holds the President may hold it out until his tenure ends.
“The President hardly obeys court orders. These appointments were challenged at High Court and what did he do? He has refused to appoint judges and we have lived with it,” he said.