Voters in Kibra will tomorrow throng polling stations to choose their next Member of Parliament. The seat fell vacant after the death of Ken Okoth, a man credited with transforming the constituency’s fortunes, especially as regards education.
The battle for the seat has been high octane, with political supremos flexing their muscle in what seems to be a precursor of the 2022 General Election.
ODM leader Raila Odinga has enlisted the support of other political figures, among them Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana.
Deputy President William Ruto is also leaving nothing to chance as he markets former football star MacDonald Mariga as Kibra’s best bet. He understands that the stakes are high and has been on the offensive to wrest the ‘bedroom’ from Raila’s two-decade-plus oversight.
Ford-Kenya and Amani National Congress have also thrown their hats into the ring through the candidatures of Hamisi Butichi and Eliud Owalo, respectively.
The involvement of these key figures, however, has pushed the needs and concerns of the ordinary Kibra voter to the periphery. Even the actual candidates have been overshadowed by Raila and Ruto.
Politicians revel in working up crowds of people. They offer a glimmer of hope that hardly materialises. Slums, especially in Kenya, are seen as voter catchment areas. Nowhere else can such huge numbers of voters be found as readily.
For a long time, Kibra has represented the rough edges of Kenya. Its sprawling slum lacks basic amenities. Sanitation has gone to the dogs. Insecurity is a part of life. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Roads and other infrastructure are dilapidated. Put simply, Kibra is synonymous with poverty that defies description.
This is why whoever wins the seat should settle down fast and implement their party’s colourful pledges. Anything short of this will reek of a betrayal of the trust of the people.
The Kibra by-election should herald a new awakening among the constituency’s residents. They should choose a candidate who truly has their interests at heart.